Oak Park menswear store distributing free face masks to area small businesses for solidarity

Marty Babayov is putting his money where his mouth is.


Babayov, the owner of menswear store The Suit Depot in Oak Park, has purchased 2,500 reusable face masks to be distributed among Michigan small businesses and their employees – for free.

As businesses are struggling enough already, Babayov says that he’s giving away the face masks to small businesses so that they can protect their employees without worrying about finding the extra money for PPE. He'll order more as supplies run out.

Small business owners are simply invited to call or visit The Suit Depot to request the masks which they’ll then receive, free of charge.

"This is less about the money but instead to create solidarity among small businesses. And to tell others to support small businesses, as well. These masks can act as a reminder," Babayov says.

"We want to be there for small businesses where we can."

These aren’t your average masks, either, but of a quality one might expect from a store that specializes in suits and designer menswear and apparel.

The face masks are reusable and washable, made of four-ply fabric with a pocket for disposable filters. They’re outfitted with a metal insert to seal around users’ noses.

What’s more, each mask is printed with #MichiganStrong on the side. While he’s not sure whether it will take off or not, Babayov would love to see a movement for supporting small businesses come from the hashtag.

"I’ve seen a lot of small businesses struggling with some of the basics, even if they were doing well before the pandemic or not," Babayov says.

"As a business that’s been doing okay as we go through this, we’re in a position to get behind something to make a difference. Hopefully it means a lot more to people than the $5,000 or $10,000 we end up investing in this."

The Suit Depot is located at 26150 Greenfield Rd. in Oak Park.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.