Mask requirements a new business opportunity

Keys entrepreneurs wasted no time turning masks into merchandise, as a branding initiative or a sales opportunity. And while there are many types of masks on the market, buffs seem to be very popular in the Florida Keys.

Craig McBay, owner of Florida Keys Brewing Co. in Islamorada, said, “We had always wanted to add buffs to our merchandise lineup, but never got around to it. Once the shutdown started, we saw a good opportunity to start.” 

“I think people will be more likely to cover their faces and be safe if they like what they are wearing, so we came out with some great designs,” the brewer added. 

McBay noted that while face covers are useful right now as mask-alternatives during the pandemic, many already use them for sun protection. He anticipates the new product will always be able to sell. The masks have been popular, selling out in person and online with back orders in place.  

The Caribbean Club in Key Largo is also selling branded buffs on its Facebook page. The iconic bar began selling fishing buffs online before getting the green light to open the bar back up. 

The Hemingway Rum Co.’s Key West flagship location is selling buffs featuring its Papa’s Pilar Rum logo, and the legendary Sloppy Joe’s Bar is featuring face masks with the bar’s logo that declare it “Still the Best Party in Key West.”

The at-home vendors on Etsy have included Key West in their online offerings of face masks and buffs. Current inventory includes buffs with the Conch Republic flag as well as a traditional face mask with a photo of Key West’s iconic Southernmost Point. 

At Grassy Flats Resort, a shipment of buffs has arrived featuring the hotel logo. Managers passed them out to owners and are selling them to guests, much like a souvenir T-shirt of yesteryear.

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