As virus spreads, pop-up shop pops up in D.C.

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - NATION & WORLD - By Ashraf Khalil

WASH­ING­TON — The na­tion’s cap­i­tal has pop-up shops for food and drink, even mar­i­juana. And now, coro­n­avirus pre­ven­tion sup­plies.

As lo­cal stores sell out of masks and hand san­i­tizer, Adil­isha Pa­trom, owner of a co-work­ing and event space next to Gal­laudet Uni­ver­sity, saw an op­por­tu­nity.

In­side her store­front, face masks and hand san­i­tizer bot­tles in var­i­ous sizes are dis­played along a stack of in­for­ma­tion sheets from the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

A Florida na­tive who came to Wash­ing­ton to at­tend Howard Uni­ver­sity, Pa­trom, 29, sells her masks for be­tween $5 and $20, de­pend­ing on the model. She also makes pre­ven­tion kits with masks, sur­gi­cal gloves and san­i­tizer, which sell for $20 to $30.

The high-end N95 masks are priced at about twice what they sell for on Ama­zon. But Pa­trom says her goal isn’t to get rich. Rather, she sees the shop as a ser­vice to the com­mu­nity and says dis­counts are avail­able to those in need and to se­nior cit­i­zens, who are most vul­ner­a­ble.

“I just feel so blessed to HAVE, just to have the abil­ity,” to stock up on sup­plies, she said.

The idea started with a health cri­sis in her own fam­ily: Pa­trom’s fa­ther was di­ag­nosed with a blood cancer in Novem­ber. With her fa­ther’s im­mune sys­tem weak­ened by on­go­ing chemo­ther­apy treat­ments, Pa­trom bought boxes of N95 face­masks, which are con­sid­ered su­pe­rior to the ba­sic sur­gi­cal masks.

As the global coro­n­avirus death toll in­creased and the virus be­gan mak­ing in­roads in the U.S., Pa­trom de­cided to stock up on hand san­i­tiz­ers and open her shop. So far, Pa­trom said, she has only made three sales since open­ing last week. The ma­jor­ity of her vis­i­tors, she says, are just seek­ing ba­sic in­for­ma­tion and walk­ing away with a CDC fact sheet.

NATHAN ELLGREN/AP

Adil­isha Pa­trom, owner of a co-work­ing and event space, puts to­gether coro­n­avirus pre­ven­tion kits at her shop.

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