Two boys surrounded by lots of Fat Witch brownie bags

Pearl River Mask Drive Update: Ups and Downs (And Lots of Fat Witch Brownies)

It’s been a week of ups and downs for us. Like many small businesses, we hopefully applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan earlier this month and were disheartened to hear that the money has run out as of Thursday, much of it having been issued to large corporations instead of small businesses, states outside of COVID-19 hot zones, and industries like construction and professional services that are still able to operate (as opposed to public-facing sectors like restaurants and retail).

Relief under the federal EIDL program and NYC’s Small Business Continuity Loan Program also seems to be tapped out or frozen due to overwhelming demand. It is hard to know exactly what is happening or how to plan a future path for our business and 35 employees.

As always though, we hope for the best, celebrate the good news, and concentrate on what’s in front of us.

We were overjoyed to hear that Governor Cuomo believes New York State’s surge situation has stabilized due to New Yorkers’ compliance with social distancing guidelines. While he is cautiously optimistic that the worst is behind us, we hear from our medical provider friends that the need for PPE is still great in area hospitals, and will be great for some time (despite statements from hospital administrators that PPE supply is now at adequate levels). In addition to hospitals, PPE is still most certainly needed at secondary frontline care facilities, such as nursing homes and community clinics.

We learned this week that our awaited shipment of 30,000 masks has been held up in China due to newly tightened export restrictions. Because of this uncertainty, we are in the process of placing smaller orders with additional vendors in China, Japan, and Vietnam, in order to widen our chances of shipments making it through. We will keep you updated on the arrival of these orders.

In the meantime, we are delighted to report that our call to small business friends to spread the word has resulted not only in additional monetary donations but also generous and extremely valuable PPE donations! We could not be happier to pick up from our friends Foremost Groups, Inc., Tea and Milk, Ten Thousand Foxes, and Fat Witch Bakery a terrific collection of 300 KN95s, 2,450 surgical masks, 1,000 disposable gloves, and 1,000 yummy Fat Witch brownies!

These will be dropped off next week at Elmhurst Hospital with the help of City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, Chair of the NY City Council’s Committee on Hospitals. We are extremely grateful to CM Rivera and her team, along with U.S. Congressmember Grace Meng of Queens and her team, for valuable guidance about the fast-changing needs of area hospitals and for their assistance scheduling distributions directly with the hospitals.

If you are interested in learning more about our efforts to procure PPE as well as Pearl River’s long history of, ahem, “creatively” sourcing goods from Asia, with or without government approval, please check out this piece written by Alexandria Misch of Canal Street News. Thank you Canal Street News!

Stay safe and healthy, New York! If you need pretty dishes for all that bread you’ve been baking, you know where to find us! And to learn more about the PPE drive, visit our GoFundMe page. No donation is too small!

Joanne Kwong, Mr. and Mrs. Chen, and all of us at Pearl River Mart

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