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Fairfield T-shirt shop switches gears to selling customized face masks during pandemic

A Fairfield T-shirt shop switched its business model to selling customized face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

News 12 Staff

Aug 25, 2020, 9:10 PM

Updated 1,395 days ago

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A Fairfield T-shirt shop switched its business model to selling customized face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
David Kulzer and Dustin Winthal started Puddle Bear, located on the Post Road, four years ago, selling custom T-shirts, hats, stretched canvas and decals. They say their biggest seller was matching shirt-sets for families going on vacation.
Then, the pandemic came along.
"When that industry tanked, and everything was closed down, cruises obviously shut down, Disney shut down, everything shut down... like everything just kind of shut down for us and business just came to a grinding halt," says Winthal.
Kulzer and Winthal knew the company wouldn't survive if they didn't shift gears.
"We were lucky that one of our suppliers was pretty quick in making a face mask so it was like 'OK, well, let's try that,'" says Kulzer.
"I pretty much took my stimulus and just invested all of it into it," says Winthal.
That paid off. Puddle Bear's face masks are now their No. 1 item.
"I put the bear outside as well as a sign that says 'face masks now;' as a matter of fact, that's what brought a lot of people in," says Winthal.
The cotton washable masks come with ear loops or ties and in sizes for adults and kids. Plus, you can get customize your mask with your favorite sports team or even Disney princesses.
Puddle Bear has personalized masks for local restaurants and businesses, and "back to school time" has meant local schools as customers.
"Tomlinson, the middle school, placed an order; as well as Roger Sherman, the elementary school," Kulzer says.
The focus on face masks has also brought in people who never knew the store was there, introducing them to Puddle Bear's original merchandise.


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