Len’s Mill Stores come for aid during coronavirus outbreak

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Len’s Mill Stores create masks, gowns and caps for people during coronavirus outbreak

Len’s Mill Stores are coming for aid during the coronavirus outbreak, by producing protective gear for people. The company has started producing thousands of masks, gowns and caps for people to wear and therefore respect social distancing. But that’s not the only heart-warming news for the day.

It all started when owner Pete Menary decided to lay off over 200 employees. He was not sure the 11 stores in Ontario would withstand the new measures. A few days later, the provincial government ordered all non-essential businesses to close. And that was the moment Pete Menary knew he would not be able to pay his employees.

“When we closed all of our doors, our income dropped to zero … [that was] the first time anybody’s ever been laid off in our 53 year history”, said Menary. But that’s exactly when everything turned from disastrous to hopeful. Many of the employees reached out to him, because they wanted to help people dealing with COVID-19 across the country.

So Len’s Mill Stores resolved to come up with a plan and schedule to produce and deliver thousands of masks, gowns and caps for common people. “Nobody really knew what we were doing”, said Menary. People kept asking him if they would be paid. And he would reply he didn’t know, but they needed to do something. “I don’t know what’s going to happen but we need to do something”, he told them. And many said to him: “Count me in, we’ll figure out something later.”

Menary confirmed they have cut enough for more than 20000 masks and 8000 gowns. These will be priced at or below cost. Moreover, he has estimated they will have fabric for 80000 masks and 15000 gowns by the end of the week.

A return to the company’s past?

Another interesting development of the outbreak was exactly Len’s Mill return to its own past. 54 years ago, one of the first facilities in Port Dover started producing retail. Before, they used to produce baby clothing and bedding. And the man that oversaw the switch in production was Menary’s own grandfather. Now, the company has been forced by circumstances to switch back again.

But that’s not all of it – some of Menary’s grandfather own designs are being integrated into newer production. “I thought it a nice homage to his life efforts in our communities to include his design in masks that are helping so many”, said Menary.

Meanwhile, the future is uncertain, but Menary is once again hopeful. Getting out what people need the most right now is the most important thing. Then after, he can foresee a turn for online retailing because of social distancing measures. “There will be a new normal, but I think the most important thing for everybody to focus on at this time is the well-being of our communities, of our families, of our friends”, he says.

In the end, “If we focus on each other, and look after each other, then when the dust settles and everything clears, we’ll all be better for it”, Menary remarks. Len’s Mill Stores new focus is certainly yet another sign that Canadians are stepping up to help and support each other amid times of crisis.