VANCOUVER -- As stores seek to reopen, the need to install protective shields at the till is creating a run on Plexiglas.

“It’s been crazy,” said Tarlan Seyedfarshi, co-owner of Plexiguards. “Every other minute or two we’re getting a phone call, people on the website.”

Her business with partner Addel Silavi usually makes high-end portfolio books, but during COVID-19, demand for that item has dropped.

So when they saw all the Plexiglas guards going up at stores, Seyedfarshi said, “this is a material that we’ve always worked with and we have the fabrication shop and the machinery so it kind of clicked that this is something we can pivot to to stay open and help other businesses stay open.”

The pair and their team make up five people working at Plexiguards. Together they’ve built shields for Amazon’s warehouses, coffee shops and cellphone sale booths, to name a few businesses. “Everyone’s trying to get their hands on it,” said Seyedfarshi.

That includes salons in Vancouver, which are part of the province’s plan for reopening, which starts Tuesday.

“WorkSafeBC has recommended that all salons install a Plexiglas barrier or some sort of barrier between clients, especially when they can’t maintain that physical distance,” said Greg Robins, executive director of the Western Canada Beauty Council. “A lot of our members are finding it a challenge to source, install and put in the Plexiglas before the official date.”

Seyedfarshi said there is an international shortage of the product. “The Plexiglas supply has been depleted in most of North America so the price of Plexiglas is going up, or gone up by 20-30 per cent,” she said.

Robins said one of the council's members was quoted $4,000 to install a Plexiglas shield between the sinks, which he described as "a huge cost for a lot of these places.”

The guards created by Seyedfarshi’s team are an ‘install-in-yourself’ kind of model. They provide the pieces, and “the average one takes about 30 seconds to install. Everything interlocks to one another and you don’t need to use any hardware.”

One of the best parts, Seyedfarshi and her co-owner Silavi said, is they’re getting to know more local businesses in Vancouver.

“It feels good to help and be helped when really a few weeks ago we didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said. "A very dire situation has turned hopeful.”

While everyone tries to get through these challenging times and reopen businesses with strict guidelines, it seems “Plexiglas is definitely having a moment,” said Seyedfarshi.