HUEYTOWN, Ala. (WIAT) — The coronavirus pandemic has forced many businesses to close, but one Hueytown couple is responding to the crisis in a creative way.
Michelle and Rod Hodges own American Pride Trophies and Awards in Hueytown. They had to temporarily close their business when the pandemic spread to Alabama. But sewing has long been hobby of Michelle’s, so she gathered supplies, started making masks, and donated them to the medical center in Tampa where their daughter works. They also donated masks to law enforcement. Initially, they simply wanted to help.
“I didn’t want to have to sell them because I felt that it was taking advantage of people during the situation,” Michelle said. “But I prayed about it, and my pastor’s wife said maybe this is God’s way of showing you a way to replace your income.”
That’s when the Hodges set up a Facebook shop to sell them to the public. They’ve now sent more than 800 masks to 20 states. The Hodges say their masks are so popular because of a unique feature: a small piece of bendable aluminum across the nose. It makes the masks fit better and prevents your glasses from fogging up while wearing the mask.
“Financially, it’s the only thing that’s keeping us going,” Rod said. “And it has been amazing, the outpouring of the people of Hueytown and surrounding cities that find out about us.”
The business has helped them stay afloat during what would have been their two busiest months of the year. Rod Hodges says April and May provide 85% of their annual income. And because schools aren’t in session and local ball teams aren’t playing, there’s little hope of recouping that once they’re able to reopen.
“When they open (restaurants) back up, people will flock to the restaurants. I know I’m going to go to a restaurant,” Rod said. “But nobody’s going to flock to us because our season’s over.”
The couple also sells their masks at the Hueytown Harvest Farmers Market each Saturday. And they still donate masks to front-line workers.