Talisman Menswear struggles to keep up with mask demand

By Madi Chwasta

Talisman Menswear's answering machine message says it all.

“Please don't leave a message regarding the face masks — unfortunately I'm getting hundreds of calls and I can't keep up,” owner Paul Jerome says.

And since the Victorian Government announced mask-wearing would be mandatory for regional Victorians from Monday, it's only become worse.

On Thursday and Friday, Mr Jerome received a few hundred orders.

And as well as being unable to keep up with the calls, Mr Jerome can't source enough elastic to complete all the requests.

After local elastic suppliers ran out of stock, Mr Jerome began importing rolls from the United States — but they have been taking nearly two weeks to arrive.

“Elastic is the new toilet paper,” he said.

Plus, each triple-layered mask takes Mr Jerome about 30 minutes to make, and he has had to work 14- to 15-hour days to meet demand.

“And Sunday fortnight ago, I worked 21 hours and made 53 masks.”

For these reasons, masks are strictly made to order, there's a limit of four masks per order, and inquiries can only be made via the Talisman Menswear Facebook page (not via phone or text).

Hours of work: Talisman Menswear's Paul Jerome is run off his feet.

Despite it all, Mr Jerome said he had been dealing with customers frustrated about the 10-day turnaround and the price he charges ($20 per mask).

He has asked the community to be patient and understanding, and to remember any face covering is better than nothing.

“Everybody is doing the best they possibly can,” he said.

“Don't be greedy — there are plenty of other people out there making masks.

“Order what you need to get yourself by, because this is something we'll have for a little while.”