Many businesses are suffering during the pandemic but John Lee Cronin and his father Mark X. Cronin aren’t going to the pandemic or anything else stop them; they are coming up with ways to turn this challenge into an opportunity.
John’s Crazy Socks was started by John and his father, Mark, in 2016 when John graduated from high school and had to decide what the future held for him. Like many children with disabilities, John, who has Down Syndrome, faced a crossroads after school ended of what he should do next.
John created the job he wanted to have being passionate about crazy socks for his whole life.
Deemed an essential business, they never officially closed the doors of their Melville headquarters during quarantine. Their staff, consisting of 23 individuals, 19 of whom have disabilities, was limited during the height of the coronavirus. The Cronin family worked to sort and pack customers’ shipments. No one was laid off and they were able to return to a full staff in April following all CDC guidelines.
They brought in Kathy DiBenedetto, the director of Infectious Disease from Good Samaritan Hospital, to inform the staff of good hygiene practices.
They screen everyone’s temperature upon entering the building and follow social distancing guidelines. The number of individuals entering the building is limited to follow social distancing guidelines and masks are required.
They are happy to have their full staff back to help pack orders. As they are dedicated to hiring those with differing abilities they believe, “Skills matter, but we have learned that culture and mission matter more.” Every package includes candy and a thank you note from John, as well as a sticker with the name and photo of the “Sock Wrangler” or “Happiness Packer” who packed their items. The personal touches along with their local same day delivery service set them apart from other companies.
Mark estimates they have lost over $250,000 in sales this spring but, John’s Crazy Socks has pivoted their business to meet the demand for other supplies. Though they will always sell socks, they’ve expanded to greeting cards, gift baskets, apparel and, of course, masks. They are ,assembling a Down Syndrome Summer Gift Box with 16 products, including coffee samplers and candles, from small businesses led by people with Down Syndrome.
John’s Crazy Socks has used their online presence and social media following to make lemons out of lemonade. With speaking engagements, events and tours of their warehouse canceled, they had to be innovative about engaging others in their mission. They have transitioned to Zoom speaking engagements and tours allowing them to reach a larger audience. John, who hand delivers packages to people locally in Huntington, is still able to do socially distant dropoffs, just without the hugs. Every Tuesday at 3 P.M., John hosts a dance party and, John and Mark host the Spreading Happiness Show on Facebook live twice a week, which reaches over 40,000 people. Many of these changes and alterations to their business due to the pandemic will be continuing going forward.
The company has donated 5 percent of profits to the Special Olympics, a cause near and dear to John’s heart as a former competitor himself. The “awareness” tab on their website donates 10 percent of profits from socks sold to different charities. Some of the causes include Alzheimer’s, Breast Cancer and Suicide Awareness as well as a newer edition, Healthcare superheroes, intended to thank frontline workers. Portions of those proceeds as well as those from their masks, go to the American Nurses Coronavirus Response Fund and the Good Samaritan Hospital Coronavirus Relief Fund which have raised over $30,000 so far. They plan to continuously unveil more socks for a cause within the next few months including ‘EMT’ socks that donate ten percent of profits to Huntington Community First Aid Squad.
Huntington Now is catching up with businesses to see how they’re doing during the pandemic. If you’d like us to report on your business, email Sapphire Delzio at [email protected].