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Selling COVID-19 PPE is softening financial blow for one West Palm Beach business

McGowen Displays selling logoed masks, social distancing stickers, and protective barriers
McGowen Displays, Inc. making PPE
Posted at 11:11 AM, Jan 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-09 11:30:42-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Amy McGowen owns McGowen Displays, which has been in business for 41 years in West Palm Beach.

The company sells everything a retail store needs like wooden racks, metal racks, hat displays, club displays, and mannequins.

So when the coronavirus quarantine started and retailers and country clubs closed, "It basically shut us down," said McGowen.

McGowen quickly realized there was a market for PPE in South Florida.

"Out of necessity... is born another business," said Trent Jones, a McGowen Displays employee.

McGowen started selling social distancing markers, logoed masks, hand sanitizer, and protective barriers.

"A protective barrier, they call it a sneeze guard. You can see the lucite separates the customer from the salesperson and then it's got the slot here for cash and credit cards. And these are available in different sizes," McGowen said.

Year over year, McGowen Displays is down 30% in total sales.

"If it were not for some PPE sales I would of been 48%," said McGowen.

McGowen had to reduce the hours of her one employee, Trent Jones. "She has struggled to keep both of us breathing. I'm so appreciative of that because a lot of people have shut the doors," Jones said.

The financial burden has set the Jones' back. "We have older kids that were in the hospitality industry, wiped them right out. So now you have to dig into your savings," Jones said. "And at the age we are, that was supposed to be your nest. So now you have to go to your nest because you have to help your kids."

McGowen said business for the PPE supplies has slowed.

When asked what moving from PPE to back to normal looks like, McGowen said, "I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon which is why I'm sticking with this. I think we are going to have to wear masks for a while. We're going to have to wear masks, you might as well put your logo on it and promote your business."

The company said they are not giving up and they are even remodeling closets for people's homes and selling shirt folders.