As a manufacturer of collectable good, licensed artwork and movie memorabilia, Trend Setters Ltd., in Tremont would have been considered a non-essential business during the COVID-19 pandemic.


That was before the company acquired thousands of three-ply disposable face masks and began offering them for sale to hospital and first responders.


“When this all happened, some of my vendors reached out (and said) that medical masks were available,” said Trend Setters Ltd. President JoEllyn Jablonski. “That allowed me to keep things moving so I could keep my staff employed and working.”


Trend Setters has been filling order for face masks since late March, when Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order.


With the May 1 expectation that citizens wear protective masks when they leave their homes, the company began offering their face masks for sale to the general public earlier this week. Jablonski estimated that, as of Tuesday, Trend Setters still had about 5,000 masks remaining from the initial order of 20,000 units. She has ordered an additional 20,000 and expects them to arrive in between one and two weeks.


“It’s about making sure people have proper protection if they’re out in public and not able to social distance,” Jablonski added. “That what it really comes down to.”


The three-ply masks block between 95% and 98% of germs, according to Jablonski. The current retail price is $15 for a sealed pack of 10.


“We plan to wholesale them to businesses so they can have them for their employees or even sell on their shelves in the case of pharmacies,” said Shawna Jablonski, marketing department manager for Trend Setters. “We know that the public needs masks and nobody can find them.”


Trend Setters Ltd. is located at 22500 Illinois Route 9, Tremont. The store offers curbside pick-up and will ship to customers on request. For more information on the current availability of face masks, call 309-929-7012.