Joann Stores and Neiman Marcus sew hope for healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus

Discussion
Source: Joann Stores - "How to Make a Face Mask"
Mar 26, 2020
George Anderson

The news has been filled with daily reports of hospital workers who have no choice but to reuse personal protective equipment such as N95 face masks or make their own when caring for coronavirus patients. Medical professionals and government authorities have made public pleas to manufacturers for more masks, gowns and scrubs as the numbers of people suffering from COVID-19 grow larger day by day. Enter Joann Stores.

The arts and crafts retailer is stepping up to assist in meeting the need by recruiting customers to sew face masks and other essential protective items. The company is also partnering with Neiman Marcus to do the same.

 

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Last week we joined a coalition of domestic manufacturers who have come together to address the massive shortage of medical masks facing the country. Over the last seven days, we’ve worked to retool our North Carolina facilities and retrain our team of remarkable seamstresses. Effective today we are making HHS-certified medical masks and distributing them to the front line medical personnel that are confronting this crisis. Our initial target is 35,000 masks per week, and we expect to be climbing aggressively from there. We are deeply grateful to our NC team of seamstresses, supervisors, and managers who have stepped in to help–they are true heroes themselves. We ask for your patience and understanding as we stop production of American Giant products in support of this effort. You may experience some out of stocks in the coming weeks, but we trust that you will understand. Right now we need masks more than sweatshirts! As always, we are grateful to you, our incredible customers, who allow us to be in a position to help. P.S. Bayard (founder/CEO) will be hopping onto Instagram Live tomorrow morning a little after 8am PST (11am EST) to answer any questions you may have about all of this. Please join us! #ppeshortage #maskshortage #protectivemask #medicalpasks #coronamasks #covid19usa #covid_19 #americanmanufacturing

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Earlier this week, Joann opened classrooms at its stores across the country for people who are volunteering to make face masks, gowns and other items to be donated to hospitals. The retailer is providing and donating 100 percent of the supplies for the project and is offering sewing machines and guidance. Joann emphasized that the physical space was being managed to adhere to social distancing guidelines, with associates on hand to sanitize work areas.

The retailer is working with hospitals and medical facilities to donate items being produced. It is also working with these facilities to help acquire materials, including fabric, elastic and clear vinyl.

“We are seeing hospital workers, organizations and individuals coming into our stores for supplies to make these essential items, and our customers are asking us how they can help,” Wade Miquelon, President & CEO of Joann, said in a statement. “So many are spending their time and money to help in this tragic situation, and we want to step in to do our part to protect the amazing people who are helping the communities we serve.”

In related news, Joann and Neiman Marcus Group are teaming up to make free masks, gowns and scrubs for medical personnel. The crafts retailer is sending material to the luxury department store operator’s alterations facilities for production.

Materials being used will adhere to guidelines established by the Providence Hospital System in Washington. Requirements for protection levels have been lowered in the face of the national shortage. These materials will be used after supplies of those complying with requirements set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have run out.

The first shipment will go out this week. The retailers are covering the costs.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is it more important now than usual for retailers such as Joann Stores and Neiman Marcus to engage in acts of civic responsibility? Do you see other ways that retailers are contributing or can contribute in this time to establish their places as good citizens in the eyes of the American public?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
" A true depiction of people at their best. It is especially impressive that they are adhering to the guidelines for materials. "
"I believe that creativity will continue to be the hope that will see us through the circumstances we face. It extends far beyond being a good citizen..."
"I have said this before, and will continue to sing the same song. Consumers will remember what retailers do during these times."

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14 Comments on "Joann Stores and Neiman Marcus sew hope for healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus"


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Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

While I understand the great civic participation, it was noted yesterday that this should be the last resort for getting actual medical masks needed for hospitals, etc. Many retailers that are not in this medical mask field are beginning to make the actual medical masks to help fill in the gaps due to the shortage.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Bravo!

Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

It’s important for every, retailer, organization and citizen to do their part. I applaud everyone who steps up to help in any way that they can. Whether that’s Joann and Neiman Marcus making face masks, Ford motor company manufacturing ventilators or Dyson inventing a new ventilator — there’s an amazing amount of ingenuity being demonstrated and we’ll need even more to get past this.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

I believe that creativity will continue to be the hope that will see us through the circumstances we face. It extends far beyond being a good citizen or making a lasting impression — this is about pulling together as one and removing all barriers to overcome the odds and creating a pathway to survival. This is no longer just about business; it’s personal.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Independent quilt and craft retailers across the U.S. have been rallying customers and supplying free kits to make masks and gowns to be donated to local hospitals. These retailers are serving their communities safely and quietly.

While I applaud Joann’s efforts to make masks and gowns using complimentary materials, I find it irresponsible to open its classrooms to the public. An article in the St. Louis River Front Times quoted a Joann employee saying things are not a rosy in-store as it seems.

I feel better about the partnership with Neiman Marcus where the non-surgical items are being made in the retailer’s alterations facilities. Helping is imperative but we have to be smart about how we do it.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Anything anyone can do to help all of us should be applauded. Period.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

It is great to see retailers and businesses stepping up. Joann’s donation of material to Neiman Marcus is to be applauded. My only concern about having customers make masks in stores and employees serve them is that it does expose people to some risk, even if that risk is minimal. There have also been some reports that the mask making at Joann shops is not well organized and is unpopular with employees, as discussed in the article Georganne shared above.

David Weinand
BrainTrust

This is great to see. A true depiction of people at their best. It is especially impressive that they are adhering to the guidelines for materials. I’ve read that others are making masks but not necessarily adhering to materials guidelines (still to be applauded).

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

No company (or person) stands so tall as when they stoop to help people in need. Well thought out and safe, these efforts are absolutely wonderful.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

As we are living in unprecedented times, it’s truly impressive to see the clothing industry rise up to the challenge to help fill some critical healthcare supply needs. We are in an all-hands-on-deck scenario until the usual healthcare supply providers are able to scale up to meet the increasing demands for face masks and other essential supplies.

We will only get through this crisis together.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

I have said this before, and will continue to sing the same song. Consumers will remember what retailers do during these times. So great for Joann to be doing this, when one of its competitors (who shall remain nameless here) is instead taking the opportunity to rake in money and subject its workers to needless harm.

Three cheers for the good Karma guys.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

This accomplishes two things … even while machines can turn out thousands of masks at a time, that mask they make may be the one that saves a life. Secondly there is solace in feeling like you can do something to help out, even if it’s a small something. This helps restore some feeling of control which certainly helps reduce stress. Bravo.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I can’t imagine anyone objecting to the activities outlined (how effective they actually are I don’t know). The (potential) problem of course lies in the “telling us about it” part: some info provided by retailers — grocers, pharmacies, even banks — is useful because it directly impacts us. This really doesn’t, so in addition to the “info overload” I mentioned the other day, there’s a danger of turning a good deed into self-promotion. A company’s own website and/or a discrete newspaper ad is a good place to announce these initiatives … anything more aggressive is not.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Yes, Joann and Neiman Marcus should be taking additional civic steps, starting with creating a safe environment for their customers and for protecting their employees. All customers should be required to wear a mask and gloves before entering the stores, and they should walk through a sanitizing bath to ensure their feet are clean.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
" A true depiction of people at their best. It is especially impressive that they are adhering to the guidelines for materials. "
"I believe that creativity will continue to be the hope that will see us through the circumstances we face. It extends far beyond being a good citizen..."
"I have said this before, and will continue to sing the same song. Consumers will remember what retailers do during these times."

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