CAMDEN, NJ — When a customer in Florida — a food distribution center — put in an order for 5,000 pairs of latex gloves, Royal Paper Company owner Rashaan Hornsby didn’t bat an eye.
“I went to the supermarket and I know places have limits, but we don’t,” Hornsby told TAPinto Camden. “The 96-roll cases of toilet paper are selling like no tomorrow. Orders coming in from here to California, Oregon, Texas and all of Pennsylvania. We even have back orders on products...I never thought I’d say that.”
Since August 2017, the Royal Paper Company has sold a catalog of approximately 800 USA-made bathroom tissue and other paper products. That includes stationery, office necessities, and janitorial cleaning products.
But as COVID-19 takes a grip on the country, Hornsby, who was born and raised in Camden, said most customers have clicked “Add to Cart” on toilet paper, hand sanitizer, nylon gloves and cleaning wipes — eager to stock up on what they need during "stay at home" sanctions.
Sales have increased between 50 and 75 percent, Hornsby estimated — with most purchases coming from online orders with residents limiting the amount of time they're out of the house. He also said social media page visits have seen a noticeable increase.
As manufacturers work to meet demand, Hornsby noted that delivery times have predictably had to be extended.
“That’s why communication has been so important, I let people know from the start so they know whereas we could deliver in 3-5 days before, it might be more like 7 to 9 days now,” he said. “But I’m easily available. People can call me. I’ve gotten great feedback from people just happy they were able to actually talk to a person. With everything going on, that's rarer.”
Shipping costs have gone up, but Hornsby said he’s assured customers prices won’t see a dramatic rise.
“People are being taken advantage of right now," he said in reference to price gouging taking place throughout the nation. "There are also some who have means and are hoarding. Its important companies don’t make things harder for people with everything that’s going on.”
Mindful of products and partners
Royal Paper Company takes extra steps to be sustainable, excluding dioxins from any of its products, for instance, Hornsby said.
“It’s important that African American business owners support our own,” said Hornsby. “I [also] look to hire people from the city of Camden, including ex-offenders who may need a job to get back on their feet or youth who are out of high school and need experience.”
He said he’s aimed to be a homegrown company with top-quality products that establishes itself as a trusted name.
In addition, with the ongoing pandemic he said, “businesses of all shapes and sizes need support right now.”
Hornsby is currently looking into potentially opening a brick-and-mortar on Haddon Avenue in Camden to offer his products. He also hopes to open the doors to a warehouse in the area, and continue developing partnerships with the city and other community members.
“This is something I want to pass down to my children, so I’m constantly invested in its growth,” Hornsby said.