SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The world seemed to change overnight because of COVID-19. It took a minute for many of us to wrap our heads around the concept of a global pandemic, much less the ramifications it would have. Protective equipment has become a critical everyday necessity, as a lot of this battle is about barrier protection.
Facemasks and social distancing still feel strange, though some hygienic health safety rules and regulations have long been in place. Everyone’s familiar with Plexiglas sneeze guards used to shield a salad bar, or one of those yummy Las Vegas buffets—though the pandemic has made salad bars and buffets things of the past.
Before the pandemic, Will Smith, chief executive officer at Bud Bar Displays, and his team were busier than usual fabricating custom display pieces for cannabis dispensaries: innovative display pods that allow consumers to see and sniff dried flower, LED-lit shelves for cannabis extract products, free-standing cabinets and shelf units, and Plexiglas countertop displays to hold penny pipes and other impulse items.
“Before the pandemic, there was a lot of new store activity, as well as existing clients expanding and opening new locations,” Smith told mgRetailer.
When the entire country shut down in March in an attempt to slow the virus’s spread, new construction and remodeling ground to a virtual halt. Within weeks, cannabis businesses in most states had been granted “essential service” status, but construction and remodeling remained slow because of economic uncertainty.
Bud Bar Displays’ team pivoted to fabricating protective barriers for essential services, including their regular cannabis customers. Medical facilities began to compose a large percentage of the company’s orders.
“Hospitals were the first,” Smith described. “Initially, there was a lot of confusion from them on exactly what they needed. But as things quickly shook out, it was mainly the counters where incoming patients interact with hospital staff that ended up being the primary protection goal.
“After that, the requests for specialized breath barriers moved deeper into the hospital/patient areas—emergency room areas, treatment areas, and then operating rooms. About the same time is when grocery stores, gas stations, and other essential businesses began requesting sneeze barriers,” he said.
When it comes to Plexiglas barriers, Smith explained, “The main goal is to prevent one person’s breath vapors from reaching another person’s face while in close proximity to each other.
“We spent time researching how a person’s breath vapor lingers in the air and how forcefully the vapor of a sneeze can travel, then used that information to create different designs for different situations,” he added. “Realistically, you will not be able to achieve a 100-percent-effective barrier in our everyday social life without going to extremes. But like all the other preventative measures we are taking, it is a critical component to help slow the spread of this virus.”
To read more about how Will Smith and his team at Bud Bar Displays are meeting the demand during these strange, quarantined times, pick up the September issue of mg Magazine, available at newsstands or by subscription.