Hello! This is Nadia Kean, owner of Strong Athletic. I am writing this post to tell you about our operations during the COVID-19 outbreak so that you have insight into how our company is addressing safety measures for our staff while ensuring that orders are still processed and continue to be shipped.
People who have worn Strong Athletic since our origin in 2014 might remember when I sold the original grey t-shirts out of my beat up old IKEA bag. We've since expanded and now do the majority of our business online and at events.
All of the events we were scheduled to attend this spring and early summer have been cancelled, which means that the only way to get something from Strong Athletic is by ordering it from one of the small, locally owned shops that carry it or directly through our website.
Strong Athletic ships from three different locations in the United States and, because we are still a small-scale operation, our inventory has always been housed in the private homes of our amazing employees, allowing them to continue to send out orders without having to leave their homes. Each person who fulfills orders has been given the option to stop operations during this time.
We are reading the USPS website daily to make sure that we are up to date with what their needs and requirements are. The latest post, from April 2, can be found here. We've also been doing research on our end to make sure that it is not only safe for our employees to send out packages, but that it is safe for our customers to receive them.
A post from the World Health Organization on this topic can be found here. The post addresses the question: "Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?" According to WHO: "Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low."
In regard to production, we had to stop printing in Austin due to the mandatory Shelter In Place order that was put into effect. Our printer was unable to complete the Strong Athletic Super Awkward design before having to shut down operations. As a result, we’ve moved production for that item to a different state, where the screen printing shop that we work with is still able to operate, and the shop is grateful for the work due to a significant decline in business. We anticipate that the shirts will arrive within 2 weeks, and then we'll be able to send them out to everyone who ordered them.
If you're wondering if you should online shop for non-essential items during the COVID-19 outbreak, the jury still seems to be out on this one. Although Strong Athletic employees do not need to leave their house to send you an order, USPS employees will need to leave their houses and go out into public to deliver it to you. We read a few articles on it (found here and here), and we'll continue to stay informed with regard to what USPS employees want and what rules the USPS is enforcing for their employees. There is no direction from the federal government or the USPS on what small businesses like Strong Athletic should be doing, so at this point we are taking all the information that we can find and implementing it the best that we can.
For now, Strong Athletic will continue to keep our online “doors” open. We'll stay as informed as possible about the current situation so that we obey local and federal laws. We will continue to put the health of our Strong Athletic employees first. We'll continue to follow the direction of USPS employees, and if at some point it is revealed that it is inappropriate to send parcels that are not essential items, we'll stop shipping.
We will continue to communicate with our customers when there are possible delays and we apologize for any inconvenience that they may cause. We hope that when you order from us and receive your package, the experience makes you happy and adds some much needed light to your day. We’re still overwhelmed with pride every time someone buys from Strong Athletic, as if each order reassures us that the statement we are making is a powerful one and one that is much needed in the world.
Thank you again for your support of Strong Athletic at this time and always. Remember, you are Strong. You are Athletic. You do not need permission to demonstrate your strength.
Nadia Kean and the Strong Athletic Team