The COVID-19 pandemic has upended business as usual in virtually every corner of the country, prompting scores of businesses in the Clarkfield-Granite Falls area to close or dramatically alter how they do business. One such business is Clarkfield Outdoors - an outdoors wear clothing producing. According to Sales & Customer Service Manager Michelle Pharr, “with all of the mandated shutdowns, most of our customers were forced to temporarily close. No customers means no orders in our world! We are a made to order company.” 

Despite the loss of orders, the company has found an innovative and appropriate way to stay busy - pumping out desperately needed face masks. Pharr explained the sequence of events which prompted this sudden shift in operations. 

“We received a phone call a week before the stay at home order was put into effect from a farm in Grove City, MN asking if we could make them 300 masks,” Pharr said. “We’ve never made masks before, so we searched and found a pattern for double layer masks and within 2 hours of that phone call, we had samples done. Since we manufacture apparel, the material was all on hand. And in the time we had left before the shut down, we were able to fulfill their order. We decided to post some pictures of them on our Facebook page and the gates opened!”

Although Clarkfield Outdoors is now busy making masks, the orders have not been sufficient to keep the facility operating at full staff. Pharr reported that roughly half of the original workforce were sent home. “We received more [orders] and more inquiries/orders so we called more back,” Pharr said, adding that “we ended up making a few  ‘teams of three’ sewers and they had the production down like a science instantly!”

At the time of going to press, Clarkfield Outdoors has produced and shipped about 15,000 face masks. “As long as there is a need for them, we will be making them!,” Pharr said enthusiastically. Orders have come in everywhere from law enforcement agencies to farms and everywhere in between. 

The masks are made using 100% cotton and are doubled layered with elastic ear loops. They are also machine washable and are reusable. Each mask costs $3.25, and the company asks for orders of a minimum of 25 in order to “keep less traffic in and out for everyone’s safety.”