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Fabric Mart ordered to close 3 Oahu stores as residents search for material for homemade face masks

  • DENNIS ODA /DODA@ STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Customers flocked to the Fabric Mart store on Kalakaua Avenue Tuesday as residents looked for fabric to make do-it-yourself masks that government officials are advising people to wear when outside the home. Now the company is shutting its three Oahu stores to comply with the city’s emergency orders.

    DENNIS ODA /DODA@ STARADVERTISER.COM

    Customers flocked to the Fabric Mart store on Kalakaua Avenue Tuesday as residents looked for fabric to make do-it-yourself masks that government officials are advising people to wear when outside the home. Now the company is shutting its three Oahu stores to comply with the city’s emergency orders.

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                There was long line of people waiting to get into Fabric Mart on Kalakaua Avenue on Tuesday as customers looked for fabric to make do-it-yourself masks. Now the company is shutting its three Oahu stores to comply with the city’s emergency orders.

    DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    There was long line of people waiting to get into Fabric Mart on Kalakaua Avenue on Tuesday as customers looked for fabric to make do-it-yourself masks. Now the company is shutting its three Oahu stores to comply with the city’s emergency orders.

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Customers of Fabric Mart practiced social distancing as they waited in a long line to enter the Kalakaua Avenue store and buy fabric for do-it-yourself face masks Tuesday. Now the company is shutting its three Oahu stores to comply with the city’s emergency orders.

    DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Customers of Fabric Mart practiced social distancing as they waited in a long line to enter the Kalakaua Avenue store and buy fabric for do-it-yourself face masks Tuesday. Now the company is shutting its three Oahu stores to comply with the city’s emergency orders.

Fabric Mart is temporarily closing its Oahu retail stores at the end of the business day today to comply with Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s emergency “stay-at-home” orders.

Demand for fabric has been high, with long lines outside the door, as the public looks for material to make fabric cloth masks in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Angie Kim, owner of the family business, confirmed that the three retail stores in Kaneohe, Honolulu and Aiea would close at the end of the business day today.

She said the mayor’s office had given the business notice that it was not complying with the emergency proclamation.

“For now, we’re going to move everybody towards shopping online,” she said.

In a “stay at home” guidance document updated on Thursday, the city specifically mentioned that there was no change to retail fabric stores, and stores selling face coverings, as non-essential businesses despite the mayor’s recommendation that Honolulu residents wear cloth masks when going out in the community.

“Retail stores that sell items such as scarves, ski masks, and/or fabric and sewing supplies that may be used to make the recommended face coverings are not now ‘Essential Businesses’ under the Stay at Home Order,” said the document. “Such businesses must cease all activity within their facilities located in the City and County of Honolulu in accordance with Order 2 of the Stay at Home Order.”

Fabric Mart will still remain open for business online at hawaiifabricmart.com.

“We’re going to look into creating a way that fabric distributors could operate on possibly a pick up only, or on phone only and pick up at the location basis,” said city spokesman Alexander Zannes. “Something similar to our farm-to-car program, so people wouldn’t have to go into the store.”

Zannes said the city wants to prevent people from standing in line outside the store or gathering in any way.

He said the city would be making a decision on fabric distributors soon, hopefully in the next few days.

In addition, Fabric Mart has a wholesale company, Printex Fabrics, available to nonprofits seeking materials to make fabric masks for health care workers. Orders can be made at printexfabric.com.

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Related story, video and graphic: How to make your own fabric face mask without touching a sewing machine

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