The year of Covid, 2020, wreaked havoc on small businesses/organizations. “Weathering the Storm” will profile local businesses in an attempt to celebrate survival and the promise of calmer seas on the horizon. We ask about the enormous challenges they faced, how businesses adapted, what the future holds, and ultimately how, as a community, we may help them rise above the tides.

Marblehead’s F.L. Woods has weathered the storm of COVID-19

When Wayne George took over at the helm of F.L. Woods nearly twenty years ago, a global pandemic was the farthest thing from his mind.

The harsh reality of Covid in March, 2020 brought the temporary closing of the Marblehead institution that first opened its doors at 76 Washington St. in 1938. The shop has been serving mariners “in the same old creaky federal building ” since selling an array of Marblehead nautical wear and accessories.

As was the case with countless local retailers, George was faced with the tall order of finding safe ways of conducting and maintaining business in the midst of Covid-19.

When supply became an additional issue–reliable vendors could no longer deliver products—George was forced to readjust his business model.

“The best thing we did was to double-down on manufacturing of our own U.S. made products,” ultimately providing more control over the process, recalls George.

The introduction of a local delivery service became a welcome relief for many F.L. Woods loyalists.

“Some folks preferred to shop over the phone leveraging our recommendations,” says George, “while others shopped online via our website.”

George feels confident that the efforts invested in the F.L.Woods website and the decision to further develop their own unique brand is what will drive the future of their business.

In revisiting the last year, it’s no surprise that George feels buoyed by his many patrons.

“The power of an amazingly supportive community cannot be underestimated,” he said.

“So many customers are going out of their way to support us.”

  • He recounts with fondness the feedback F.L. Wood customers have shared, particularly as it relates to the notion of “downtown.”
  • “If we don’t support you and our local shops we will not have a downtown, and what would Marblehead be without our downtown?”
  • George recognizes the power of this mindset and feels strongly that a community sentiment of “shop local” would have lasting impacts on the future of our downtown.

“As it stands today, we have lost a handful of retail shops due to the combination of the challenges of running a business in a small community and the pandemic,” says George.

Community support coupled with “strong leadership from town planners and possibly some additions to zoning that might discourage retail to residential conversions,” will together go a long way toward maintaining a vibrant downtown, according to George.

Visit F.L.Woods in person or online at:

Marblehead’s F.L. Woods has weathered the storm of COVID-19

Originally published on, republished with permission.

F.L. Woods
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