By Allyssa Baird, YSN

One of BrandSource’s newest members hails all the way from Bangor, Maine, where it learned quite a lesson about karma and community commitment.

A year after moving to a 143,000-square-foot former Macy’s location, owners Desmond and Kathy Harvey of Furniture Mattresses & More decided to bless Bangor’s local artisans by hosting a craft fair. The event cost the couple $40,000 to produce but drew 750 vendors and over 20,000 visitors.

Fast forward to the health crisis. Thanks to the TVs and laptops they carry, Furniture Mattresses & More was considered “essential” and remained open for business, although there was precious little to be had. Nonetheless, foreseeing a need for facemasks and looking for a way to bless the community, the couple reached out to Bangor’s crafters again — this time investing over $50,000 when their neighboring box stores declined to pitch in.

In short order, 51 artisans fired up their sewing machines and began producing handcrafted facemasks. The move proved prophetic after Maine’s governor made face coverings mandatory and Desmond and Kathy’s furniture store became the only place in town to find them. The couple sold the masks at or below cost, gave them away to those who couldn’t afford them, and donated the rest to seniors, outpatients, veterans and veterinarians. They also had thousands of clear masks made for the hearing impaired, and even designed an under-the-ear model that doesn’t irritate the skin.

To date, Furniture Mattresses & More has now sold or donated more than 300,000 facemasks and keeps 50,000 in stock at all times. The traffic drivers retail for between $2.50 and $4.50 and feature a wide variety of designs, included a seasonal selection of Halloween-themed images.

 “I am proud of our store, as well as our employees and local crafters,” Kathy told YSN. “We came together during a crisis and showed that a local community can stand strong and take care of its own.”

What’s more, she added, “This community blessing has come back to bless us — many, many customers come in to thank us and now shop at the store.”

No question then that this Maine event was truly a blessing in disguise.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.