Like so many people, Rob Ainbinder and Mike Hall were dealt a financial blow with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two friends, who live in Asheboro and met working at a marketing firm in Greensboro, each had independent businesses — web design for Hall and internet marketing for Ainbinder. But with businesses closing and people staying home, their client load dropped significantly.

“We were just two independent guys who ran their own businesses who really needed to pivot,” Ainbinder said.

So just over two weeks ago, they got an idea — partner with a local printer to launch a custom social distancing floor decal business, simply called Social Distance Floor Decals.

“In four days we designed, priced and built a website, and we were ready to sell on day five,” Ainbinder said. “We essentially opened the doors, and that day we sold an order.”

Since then, the orders have been rolling in from both local businesses and those in locales as far away as New Hampshire, Florida and Texas. The company offers generic social distancing decal designs, as well as custom options.

“Those have been getting increasingly popular,” Ainbinder said. “We’re launching hair-stylist decals, and we already have brewery/bar-type decals, as well as winery designs. And a church in Florida even wanted a seashell on theirs. That’s one of the great things about this — we can experiment a little bit.”

In addition to the decals, the company also has added protective face masks and acrylic sneeze guards to its product offerings. It partnered with a hosiery mill near Asheboro to produce the masks.

“We aim to help businesses here in North Carolina,” Ainbinder said. “We are a North Carolina business, and we try to work with partners in North Carolina. We really try to keep business here, keep our dollars here.”

The operation has allowed Ainbinder and Hall to not only produce income for themselves, but also to do something to help keep others safe from the spread of COVID-19.

“There are some companies really trying to do their best to keep customers safe and healthy,” Ainbinder said. “And that’s where we find ourselves — working with people who want to keep their customers safe. We know wearing a mask and staying apart helps.”

As states continue to loosen restrictions and businesses slowly reopen, Ainbinder said the company will expand to help meet the demand for products that allow customers to socially distance. And while he and Hall never imagined they’d be running this business, they’re grateful and encourage others think outside their personal box to create new ideas in this difficult financial landscape.

“Even in challenging times there can be opportunities, and I would say you have to be on the lookout for that opportunity because you never know when it might present itself,” he said.

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