Updated: November 22, 2020 08:10 PM
Created: November 21, 2020 11:15 PM
It may be the first of its kind. An unassuming storefront, with a neon sign that just says "Face Masks."
“I’ve made over 56,000 masks now,” says Buddy "Rocketman" Michaelson, the owner of Rocketman Facemasks. “So far it’s really good, a lot of people are coming through here and masking up the community.”
"World’s Largest Selection," reads a sign outside the store at the corner of Old Shakopee Road and France Avenue in Bloomington.
"I think he's helped save lives one mask at a time,” said Jodi Magrum, Michaelson’s mother. “Buddy’s a great hard worker. He’s got a lot of ingenuity. Very creative, always coming out with ways of making masks more comfortable, listening to the customers.”
It’s been a labor of love that began as a favor to friends.
Before the pandemic, Michaelson and his father, Ky, made parachutes for recreational and industrial use.
But in March, that all changed.
"Started doing pop-up shops around town, and now with winter coming, I've moved into my own location,” Michaelson said.
The store has been open for business since Oct. 23, operating only on Fridays and Saturdays.
Plans are already in the works for Sunday hours, starting this weekend.
“I think it’s great,” says Peggy Gordien, of Bloomington. “I’m glad he’s got a shop. He should have a shop because there’s always people here all the time.”
Michaelson estimates he sells about 1,000 masks on Fridays and Saturdays.
"We've just been working, sewing non-stop all day, every day,” he said. “Just trying to get as many masks out there in the community as possible so we can stop the spread."
There are health precautions here: Customers are required to wear masks and must undergo a temperature check before they’re allowed in. The floors are lined with safe distancing stickers.
“We really need to turn this around,” customer Clint Smalley said. “I don’t know what it’s going to take, but I hope there are some great leaders that can turn it around.”
Among the rows of masks, there are thoughts of hope and change. Many customers are well aware of how the pandemic will make this holiday season different.
“With Thanksgiving coming, it’s just something I’m having to think seriously about because I usually have Thanksgiving at my place,” Gordien said. “Very scary times, I think, but I do the best I can and make the most of it.”
Michaelson is doing his best to keep the business upbeat.
Some masks are whimsical, others have sports themes or holiday themes. A Christmas tree in one corner even has masks as decorations.
His best seller? The so-called "cigar mask," which features an outline of a mouth clamped on a stogie.
Michaelson has sold about 300 of those, he says.
“At least we can get some comfort in this pandemic while we have to wear these masks all day,” Magrum said.
The masks cost $5 each.
Michaelson says he’ll likely keep the store going at least until March of next year, but the 20-year old entrepreneur adds he hopes at some point to go out of business because that would mean the pandemic is over.
“Actually, I wish I would go out of business, because as soon as that happens, that means no one needs masks and the pandemic is going away,” Michaelson says. “So that would be ideal.”
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