When the pandemic took the world by storm in early 2020, masks suddenly became a very hot commodity. Since nobody saw the pandemic coming, legacy Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suppliers were simply unprepared for all the demand. This created a lucrative opening for a medley of new entrants, including adjacent businesses, mom-and-pops, and small brokers who saw an opportunity at a time when many of their core businesses were suffering as a result of lockdowns and restrictions. These new entrants flocked to the business of masks in the hopes of fulfilling unmet needs and profiting handsomely. Unfortunately, many of them charged excessive prices since they knew buyers had no other choice (side note: we are proud to stand behind the fact that we always charged fair prices). As the vaccines rolled out, mask mandates were ended, and 'mask fatigue' set in nationwide, that demand subsided and many of those opportunistic new entrants were left holding the bag.
In the spring of 2021, a period of heavy liquidation took place as many of those recently established mask sellers and brokers were trying to exit a market that had lost its heat. In fact, disposable masks were being sold for as low as $0.01 per piece.
As we moved into this summer, it seemed to many as though we were nearing the end of the pandemic. But in the past several weeks, cases have been rising dramatically across the nation.