A shop chain dedicated to providing pandemic essentials including customized face masks has sprung up in the United States.
The “COVID-19 Essentials” shops offer a range of coronavirus-related products in eight US cities following a dramatic increase in demand for products such as the highly rated N95 face mask.
“We didn’t go into it with the idea of opening many stores, but we got busy from the second we opened,” founder Nadav Benimetzky told the New York Times.
The shops reportedly offer products including “keylike devices” that allow the customer to open doors and press buttons without touching them, high-quality hand sanitizer spray, and ultraviolet-light devices that can be used to disinfect phones.
However, according to customers who spoke to the New York Times, the main attraction are the customized face masks.
Face mask wearing has increased dramatically across the globe following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in January, 2020.
While the most common mask is the standard blue and white medical white mask, many have invested in patterned cloth masks. COVID-19 Essentials offers custom-made patterns that feature artistic designs or political slogans including “Black Lives Matter” and support for both US President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden.
The first branch opened in Miami’s Aventura Mall in June.
Speaking to Miami’s 7News at the time, Benimetzky pointed to the demand for masks.
“People want to have their own masks customized in a couple minutes. Everyone wants to express their own fashion, and we’re here to really customize the mask, A to Z,” he explained.
One customer explained why they had gone to the store.
“With all this situation and everything, it’s like a toy store. That’s our reality right now. We need to protect ourselves, and we need to be very careful,” Hili Hazan told 7News.
With much of the world experiencing a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for protective products is unlikely to go away.
Rival stores have since popped up, including CV-19 ESSENTIAL, established by Tony Park, in New York City.
Despite this, Benimetzky said his store is not designed to last forever.
“I can’t wait to go out of business eventually,” he told the New York Times, reflecting hope that one day the pandemic will be talked about in the past tense, and not as a fixture of the new normal.