Liz Tucker shows jewelry

Liz Tucker, the owner of Poppy, displays some of the jewelry made by Sharon Zimmerman of Sharon Z Jewelry in San Francisco. Zimmerman was featured on "Lunch with Liz," a livestream created by Tucker. 

Each video starts Mr. Rogers-style. Liz Tucker slips on a navy jacket and gold boots as she talks to the camera.

"How are you feeling?" she asks. "Check in. How are you?"

Tucker owns Poppy, a boutique on Broadway in downtown Columbia. She had to shut the doors to her shop on Sunday due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn't stopped her from connecting with friends and customers in other ways. 

"Lunch with Liz" is a series she started Tuesday to take the conversations she usually has on the sales floor to Facebook Live and Instagram. In each video, she features an artist or jewelry-maker whose work she sells. 

The lunchtime videos broadcast in the early afternoon on Poppy's Facebook page, and Tucker plans on reading children's stories on Saturday mornings. 

She knew that when social isolation became more widespread, she would need to find a way to keep in touch with the community that has formed around her store.

"I've really gotten to know a lot of my customers really well," Tucker said. "I see their kids grow up, hear about their upcoming exciting things, their celebrations, the really happy things in their lives.

"It's just ... being a place where they can come whenever the not-so-happy things happen, being able to comfort people, being able to listen to people and being a place for people to gather when times are hard."

She chose the Mr. Rogers-inspired introduction because of its calming effect, both on the viewers and on herself. 

Tucker said she hates being on camera, but that the motions of putting on her shoes and jackets brings her to "a different place of calm."

In the two videos posted as of Wednesday, she featured jewelry makers based in the Bay Area of California, which has been under a shelter-in-place order since Tuesday. 

Sharon Zimmerman, owner of Sharon Z Jewelry based in San Francisco, was featured in Wednesday's "Lunch with Liz." She said her business, which includes jewelry-making classes, has essentially come to a halt because she can't access her studio. 

"The community is something that I’ve been leaning on a lot in the past few days," Zimmerman said. "A lot of us are just reaching out and asking the question, 'Hey, how are you doing?'"

With many small businesses stalled by quarantines and social distancing, other creators and sellers of handmade goods are supporting each other by sharing each other's work and encouraging their customers to support small businesses in monetary and non-monetary ways, Zimmerman said.

Tucker, who describes herself as a "relentless optimist by nature," said part of her mission is to give people a consistent place to interact.

"So far it has done exactly what I wanted it to do, and that is letting people know that we are still connected," Tucker said. "Even though we are not physically connected, we are still a part of each others' lives."

For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • State government reporter, spring 2020. I am a senior studying investigative journalism and international studies. You can reach me at mgmcvan@mail.missouri.edu.

  • Mark Horvit is the state government editor. Call me at 817-726-1621 with story ideas, tips or complaints.

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