Where You're At: Bookshop Family | KBIA

Where You're At: Bookshop Family

Apr 22, 2020

We at KBIA have found strength in our community during the COVID-19 crisis. In our series “Where You’re At,” we’re calling our neighbors to see how they’re coping during the pandemic.

If you’d like to share your story and how you are doing, email us at news@kbia.org.

Here’s Seth Bodine’s call with Joe Chevalier in Columbia. Joe and his wife Kelsey Hammond own Yellow Dog Book Shop. Hammond is also the executive director of Columbia Art League.

How are you doing? 

Well, we're holding on. They're kind of two sides. There's just life at home with children both out of school. One is in sixth grade and one in second grade. It's an adjustment to have them home all day and try to figure out how to manage them to keep them focused on the projects they're getting from the school system and without stressing us too much without stressing them out too much. 

And the other side is the stress that we're – my wife and I – are having over our businesses with the stay-at-home order and the various other measures. Neither of us is really working in the same way we would have been otherwise. 

For having two kids at home, how have you been managing that -- school and helping with them? 

Oh, it's been hard. My daughter is in sixth grade is a little more – since she's older, she's a little more focused and self-managed in a way. So she's able to look at her assignments daily and enjoys working out that by herself. And my son is in second grade. Any second grader is a little harder to keep focused. I've mostly been at the shop in the daytime when he's trying to do his schoolwork, so it's fallen a lot on my wife and also on my mother-in-law who lives with us to try to manage him and keep him entertained.

What's something specific you miss about life before the stay-at-home order? 

I really miss the daily interactions in the bookshop. One of the things I love about having the shop is being able to talk to people about books and see the books that people bring in to sell. Since we're shut down, I can't do that. It's lonely in here. And this is I'm sure happening with a lot of people that we miss social interaction. 

What are you worried about? 

You know, depending on how long the shutdown goes, we're aware that at some point we won't be able to sustain the business maybe, depending on how things go. So that's a worry that if it goes on. Or if it's this pattern they are saying of relaxing, then shut down again, relax and shut down. Will we be able to keep things going? The other fear is that when things are relaxed, what happens if we if we get sick? What would that look like? When you're a small business or you know Kelsey is integral to the Art League, even if we weren't sick enough to go to hospital, if we just had to be isolated for three weeks or four weeks, that is a major impact on our livelihoods as well. 

Once this is all over, what do you look forward to? 

I look forward to just kind of the normal practices of our everyday lives. Again, assuming you know my favorite places survive: going into Sparky's, going into Pizza Tree, going to Uprise, going to movie theaters. I hope being able to just go out without fear again, without the sort of paranoia that can creep in when you don't know how can I get this disease and what will happen?