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Regina clothing store turns backlash over making masks into business opportunity

Regina clothing store Tall Grass Apparel is now selling T-shirts that promote wearing face masks during the coronavirus pandemic.
Regina clothing store Tall Grass Apparel is now selling T-shirts that promote wearing face masks during the coronavirus pandemic. Allison Bamford / Global News

After receiving backlash over its decision to make face masks, a local Regina clothing store is taking a stance, turning the feedback into a business opportunity.

Tall Grass Apparel began making masks as the coronavirus pandemic hit and while many praised the idea, some opposed it.

The store put out an advertisement about two weeks ago promoting its masks and was surprised with the response.

Read more: Why some people still refuse to wear masks

“We ran it for about a week and it was just constant comments. A lot of them were good, but there were a lot of extremely negative ones, including a phone call from someone swearing at me,” said Matt Thompson, Tall Grass Apparel co-owner.

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He said most comments regarded anti-mask myths and conspiracy theories about the pandemic.

“There were a lot of comments about us pleasing the blind sheep, following,” Thompson said.

Thompson thought it would be a good idea to create a T-shirt making light of the backlash.

Tall Grass Apparel Sheeple T-shirt.
Tall Grass Apparel Sheeple T-shirt. Allison Bamford / Global News

“I finally had enough and reached out to one of our designers and said, ‘Do you have any ideas in mind?’ and within an hour, he had this shirt made,” Thompson said.

Read more: Which mask should I buy? ⁠From cotton to silk, finding the right fabrics

And it didn’t take long before orders started pouring in for the T-shirt, which features a sheep wearing a mask and the word “sheeple.”

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“Within five minutes of it being on the website yesterday, we sold 10,” Thompson said. “I’m hoping it spreads awareness about the need to wear masks as well as poking a little fun at a couple people.”

When it comes to wearing masks, Thompson’s take on the importance of wearing them is backed by many, including Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer.

“You are protecting others and if others are doing that, then they are protecting you,” Dr. Saqib Shahab  said on June 22.

T-shirts and masks are available on the Tall Grass Apparel website and at the Centennial Market that takes place in Regina on Saturdays and Sundays.

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