PEI

Mask-making items good for business at P.E.I. fabric stores

Fabric stores on P.E.I. are seeing an increase in business as more people are making their own face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Customers looking for unique styles that also offer good protection

Selina Martens sifts through the different styles of cotton at Island Fabric in Charlottetown. (Shane Ross/CBC)

Fabric stores on P.E.I. are seeing an increase in business as more people are making their own face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Barb Perry, manager of Island Fabric Outlet in Charlottetown, said more than half her sales are now cotton fabric and elastics.

"We've been really busy," she said. "In fact, this past week we were busier even than we have been in the last couple of months."

Last week, P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison strongly recommended wearing masks at indoor public places where physical distancing is difficult.

Perry estimates she's had a 30 per cent increase in new customers during the pandemic. She was able to convert one part-time employee to full time.

Suzanne Lane, owner of Quilting B and More in Charlottetown, has also seen an increase in business.

Men are very hard to find masks for. They're fussy.— Suzanne Lane

She said most of her customers are women who are making masks for their families.

"Men are very hard to find masks for," she said with a chuckle. "They're fussy. They don't want flowers, they don't want any pink. I get that a lot from the ladies coming in."

Lane said people want something that will look fashionable but also offer protection.

Suzanne Lane, right, and Stephanie Whitlock have seen lots of new customers at Quilting B and More. (Shane Ross/CBC)

"I've had a few grandmothers come in who are making them for their grandchildren and they've got grandchildren who are 14, 15, 16, and it's not cool to wear a mask when you're that age and so they're trying to find something that these kids will like wear so we're getting all kinds of questions."

She said some people add a layer of interfacing to help the mask keep its shape.

Lane and Perry don't make masks for sale, but said there are patterns and videos online that show how to make them.

Perry said she has sold cotton with patterns ranging from lobsters to sea glass to motorcycles.

"A lot of people want something unique to show their interests or their job or just something funky," she said.

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