One of Vancouver’s premier sports clubs is teaming up with the Vancouver Aquarium to help the beleaguered institution stave off bankruptcy during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Vancouver Whitecaps have partnered with the aquarium to sell non-medical masks bearing both organization’s logos, with proceeds going to the cash-starved facility.
The Aquarium was forced to shut its doors on March 17 due to COVID-19, and despite laying off more than half of its staff, still needs about $1 million per month to stay afloat.
“I reached out to a supplier and just asked if it was possible to create face masks.”
That supplier is Alliance Mercantile, a company that usually makes uniforms and promotional merchandise for corporations like McDonald’s and Coca Cola.
The initiative has been a lifeline for his company, too.
“We thought we would have to lay off all of our employees; we only had enough business to continue for at least one month,” said CEO Mark Trotzuk.
The masks, which cost about $20, come in a variety of designs ranging from straight logos to jellyfish to a kid-friendly version with the Whitecaps’ mascot and a cartoon otter.
“We have enough fabric to make half a million to a million masks,” said Trotzuk.
They may need it — by late Friday, consumers had snapped up about 7,500 of them.
Lasse Gustavsson, president and CEO of the Ocean Wise Conservation Association, which operates the aquarium, said the masks will both help save the facility and prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
“This is a super creative initiative from the Whitecaps, and as I said we’re grateful,” he said.
“Right now we’re focused on getting those masks out to as many people as possible.”
Health officials say that non-medical masks won’t protect individuals from COVID-19, but can help stop people who have the virus from spreading it.
The institution has so far managed to raise about $625,000 from donors, and Gustavsson said he hopes Ocean Wise can reach a funding deal with the provincial government as well.
-With files from Linda AylesworthView link »