Closing down any small retail business for six months would spell long-term disaster for many entrepreneurs.

Hank’s Mini Market proved to be an exception when it shut its doors in March 2020 due to the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and managed to reopen in mid-October, much to the community’s relief.

Owner Kelli Jackson says she had a roadmap for relevance during the retail sabbatical. Even while closed, the store didn’t “disappear.” Instead, Jackson leveraged social-media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to communicate with locals, encouraging them to get tested for COVID-19. A cable TV special featured the store in a segment, providing crucial national exposure.

Located in South Central Los Angeles, Hank’s reopened to much fanfare, having long been a mecca for gatherings from the days when Jackson’s father ran the business.

These days, Hank’s Mini Market is back up and running, and Jackson is hoping for good things in 2021. “It was the best decision to step away,” said Jackson, who owns the 2,500-square-foot store and didn’t lay off anyone. “The time away helped catapult a new chapter for us. I needed it to rest and recoup, and ask, ‘How do we want to return?’ ”

Going forward, Hank’s Mini Market is prepared for any new curve balls that might upend the store’s plans, including developments connected to the pandemic and beyond. Jackson said that plan is to remain true to the company mission, which is “using art and food to inspire and uplift the community, and dedicate itself to building a healthy community through access to safe spaces. Essentially, we are eager to meet people where they are,” said Jackson.

And, she hopes to meet them at the re-booted Hank’s Mini Market.

Kelli Jackson, owner of Hank’s Mini Mart