This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Many people have taken it upon themselves to make masks for healthcare workers and their family members. And some have made mask making a business. But shops that supply materials are getting a boost.

S&R Sewing and Vacuum Center has been serving North Alabama for years. Owner Tony Coulson said the business has weathered many crises, but nothing quite like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thankfully, those past experiences taught Coulson how to plan for the worst.

“The big box stores, Walmart, Target, they all ran out of sewing machines very quickly,” the store owner explained. “Because we are a little bit smaller than most, we were able to get machines from secondary, or third tier channels.”

The majority of customers who have visited the shop have done so to either pick up new materials or bring their sewing machines in for repair.

Coulson said his customers don’t mind the new policies he’s put in place.

“I don’t think it’s required but we have asked for everybody’s safety, to wear the face shields or the face masks,” he explained. “It’s worked out pretty well, everyone’s been compliant.”

Compliant, but also creative. Coulson said finding filter materials has been difficult for many mask makers. S&R also services vacuum cleaners and customers have begun repurposing those supplies.

“We have sold hundreds of packs of vacuum cleaner bags, a lot of them are HEPA filtration level,” Coulson added.

The store has brought its furloughed workers back and hired new employees to better serve customers. Coulson said they’re ready for the long haul.

“Unfortunately I do think that masks are going to be here to stay for a while,” he explained.

With craft supply shortages in so many stores, Coulson said he’s actively working to ensure his customers have everything they need in the future.

The shop says it will likely continue to hire associates for several locations. For more information call them at (256) 536-5696 or visit them on site (1407 Memorial Pkwy NW Suite No. 1).