United Uniforms / Sew Shore - 2020 Wrap Up Review
Happy New Year Sew Shore-lites and United Uniformians! To say 2020 was an interesting year would be an incredible understatement. COVID-19 aside, we saw many changes and interruptions within our business and industry this year. Alas, we are still standing and moving forward as per usual. Let's cut to the chase and review the year 2020 and a few significant year-end updates.
United Uniforms / Sew Shore added a few new services to our repertoire in 2020. We are happy to announce speedier turnaround times for our screen printing services. Many jobs are now completed within 7 business days. When our queue gets significantly backed up, we are still producing printed jobs within 10 business days. This would not be possible without our outstanding partners in the screen printing division who continue to fine tune their skills. We've cranked out some of our most brilliant prints to-date and numerous simulated process prints with cumbersome setups. Despite a decline in restaurant apparel and school spirit wear, we just might've hit our all time high with screen printing in 2020.
In addition to speedier turnaround times and simulated process prints, we've added Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing to our list of services. We've been able to replicate some of our more complicated screen prints with DTG printing, and on dark shirts to boot. Initially, we only offered Dye Sublimation printing for low quantity orders. The only caveat with Dye Sublimation was that the apparel needed to be 100% polyester and light in color. DTG printing affords us low quantity printing on most apparel, both light and dark colors.
In our embroidery division, we've added several different frames for a variety of applications which would include large format logos and unique items such as tennis shoes and smaller pockets and locations. We've fine tuned our digitizing process to include trends such as ombre and space-dyed colors. Lastly, we have become authorized embellishers for The North Face and Under Armour brands. We continue to operate on 4 state-of-the-art Barudan embroidery machines and we'll continue to push the envelope for options and creativity.
During the early stages of COVID shutdowns, we continued to stay open as an essential business to our healthcare workers and public safety works (police, fire, etc...) We introduced emergency delivery options and curbside pickups during this period. Additionally, we completely upgraded our point-of-sale system during the lag in walk-ins. Our new POS system documents all visitor history, inquiries, and purchases. The new system works simultaneously between our two locations to easily connect our customers to both stores. We've integrated a new seamless, and paperless, payroll deduction option within this new system. Our POS system ties into our store inventory and feeds to a new website for in-store or online purchasing options.
With the addition of the website built to integrate with our new point-of-sale system, we've built out a completely new platform to include independent purchasing portals for our government accounts and businesses that operate on purchase orders. Our new government purchasing portals are on U.S. based servers, supported by a local IT team, and monitored and managed by United Uniform / Sew Shore staff members.
Our Healthcare and Medical Scrubs retail division saw quite a few changes in 2020. We saw the launch of quite a few significant lines from our medical scrub vendors. A list of those newly added lines to our stores are as follows:
Cherokee - Form, Allura
Healing Hands - Onyx
Koi Designer Scrubs - NextGen
Landau Scrubs - Urbane Impulse
MedCouture - Energy
Medichic - Mini Marilyn
The rise of joggers finally happened in 2020. For the record, we've been asking for joggers since several years ago. Our manufacturers dabbled in them at the most. However, the demand for joggers seemed to really hit their "stride" in 2020. Our top selling joggers were Wonderwink's W123 jogger, followed by MedCouture's Energy jogger. We saw spikes with joggers by Healing Hands & Koi Designer Scrubs in the third and fourth quarter. Many of the more popular joggers were backordered in 2020. We could not distinguish whether this was related to their popularity demand or COVID production stalls.
However, I would sum up our medical retail for 2020 as "The Year of Accessories". For a couple of years we sold fun and funny face masks, or face coverings. The masks were purchased more as gag gifts than the functional necessity they became. By early March, we were wiped out of masks completely. What started as hundreds of mask and face coverings turned into thousands and then the backorders happened. We were blessed by some of the retailers that made us a priority ship for our Healthcare Systems. I'd like to give a huge shoutout to Koi Designer Scrubs for the bulk mask shipments and filters, and a huge thank you to Healing Hands for bulk KN-95 mask production and case shipments. As mask inventories dried up, the focus became surgical scrub caps. Something we used to make in-house, and could no longer giveaway, became one of the hottest commodities in healthcare. We'd like to give a big thanks to the folks at Careismatic Brands (Cherokee, Dickies, Heartsoul) for shipping scrub caps and to MediChic for the quick turnaround on locally made scrub caps. As the dust settled, we saw new SKUs for new and improved masks and scrub caps in a variety of fabrics and colors. We assume that even with vaccinations, these items will become the norm for our retail stores again.
Lastly, the most significant change to our medical industry came in late 2020 on December 15th in a letter from Careismatic Brands, Inc. CEO Mike Singer. It was an announcement that Careismatic Brands acquired Healing Hands. The news was significant as CBI is the industry giant and Healing Hands has become a hot selling, ferociously popular brand on it's own. Formerly Strategic Partners, Careismatic Brands Inc. is perhaps the largest vendor for medical apparel in our industry. The lineup of brands by CBI notably include Cherokee, Dickies, Heartsoul, Tooniforms, and more. With the acquisition of Healing Hands, CBI brands will dominate much of our top sellers list.
On the heels of the Careismatic / Healing Hands announcement, we learned that select Wonderwink scrubs will be distributed through SanMar, another industry giant in our network. The significance is that the particular line of scrubs that were once exclusive to select brick and mortar locations will now be available to all SanMar resellers. Time will tell if this was a successful move for Superior Uniform Group, who acquired CID Resources the designer and manufacturer of Wonderwink. I would say that as a retailer, I'm disappointed in this decision as it does not support a brick and mortar that invested in Wonderwink's success. However, as an eternal optimist, I do not feel the select offerings through SanMar will interrupt Wonderwink's top-sellers in retail stores. I hope that the brand could become more popular through this distribution and that we'll benefit by offering the more exclusive, higher quality options.
2020 was not kind to restaurants, restauranteurs, waitstaff, and hospitality workers. Our deepest sympathies are with these businesses and their colleagues as they maneuver a difficult year and work towards survival. As a show of support we have provided donations, discounts, trades, and offers for our various clientele in the food industry. We encourage our readers to support their local restaurants and businesses, and to be kind and considerate. You don't have to dine in to show your support. Inquire about to-go orders and the ability to purchase gift cards for future use.
This year we worked with Hey Collection to offer input and design for affordable chef and kitchen apparel. The result is "Hey Chef", a classic look with modern touches budgeted for anyone. We now offer traditional black and white, short sleeve and long sleeve chef jackets by Hey Chef. In addition to the classics, we offer short sleeve and long sleeve zip up denim jackets, and breathable mesh chef pants.
We continue to offer Chefworks, Chefwear, and Uncommon Threads apparel.
Lastly, I'll leave you with a few personal favorite hits and misses of things you should know that happened in 2020. I hope these things give you a smile, inspire you, whatever... time to move on. Welcome to 2021, do your best and let's turn this world back on course!
A few hits
- @Sew Shore has 4,500+ Facebook Followers and 2,000+ Instagram Followers
- Cocktails To-Go
- Netflix & Disney+
A few misses
- Forget Birkenstocks... slide sandals are back big time