Owners of Eco Lips and Cedar Ridge Winery make hand sanitizer to give away for free during coronavirus crisis

Hand sanitizer giveaway

NewBo City Market -- Wednesday, March 18 at 10 a.m.

Steve Shriver (left) teamed up with Dr. Ryan Sundermann from St. Luke’s UnityPoint Health and Jeff Quint, owner of Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery, to create homemade sanitizer. — photo courtesy of Steve Shriver

Hand sanitizer is in high demand, with stores in Iowa and across the country experiencing shortages as people stock up to protect themselves from COVID-19. Seeing the community need for the product, business owner Steve Shriver and Dr. Ryan Sundermann decided to pair up with Jeff Quint, owner of Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery to make more.

“I called Jeff Quint out at Cedar Ridge, and within five minutes, we decided that we should hook up and start making hand sanitizer,” Shriver told Little Village. “We didn’t even question it, and we immediately decided to give it away for free until it’s back on the store shelves.”

“Five days ago is when we agreed on it, and then within the last five days, I’ve been putting together the formula, sourcing some of the raw materials outside of the alcohol, getting the bottles and the caps and the labels and equipment to manufacture it.”

The Centers for Disease Control recommends washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, but a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is an alternative if soap and water aren’t available. The sanitizer being made is 65 percent.

Tuesday was the first day of production, and 1,000 four-ounce bottles were made. Shriver said a challenge was finding all the materials because not only is hand sanitizer itself difficult to find but so are the ingredients to make and package it.

photo courtesy of Steve Shriver

The bottles will be given away at New Bo City Market Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. In order to minimize contact, people are asked to pull up to the parking lot in their car.

“This is the first batch hopefully of many,” Shriver said.

Because the group is planning to make more, Shriver said he would prefer to give out the sanitizer to people who are completely out. Updates on production and future locations can be found on Facebook.

Shriver said this has been a distraction for him during a difficult time as he’s wondering what will happen to his businesses. He’s the owner of Brewhemia, Soko Outfitters and Eco Lips, as well as involved with the Olympic, an event venue that was supposed to open this month.

Shriver’s largest business is Eco Lips, which makes organic and free trade lip balm and other personal care products. Even though he said the business hasn’t experienced any downturn in sales yet, he brought up Amazon’s announcement to sellers and vendors that the company will suspend shipments of nonessential products to its warehouses.

“I’ve got four different businesses in four different industries, and I’m already starting to see them all impacted in one way or another,” Shriver said.

“It’s just so difficult.”

He encourages people to support their local businesses in any way that they can, like buying a gift card to use for later or donating money to local stores that might go out of business because of the pandemic.

“Most of Johnson County and Linn County are a ghost town right now,” he said. “So every single penny that goes into a local business is great. The gift card idea is amazing. Buy gift cards, let us float on the money that you’re using on the gift cards and then come redeem them a few months down the road.”

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