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Indiana Daily Student

Cardinal Spirits pauses beverage operations to make hand sanitizer

<p>Bottles of hand sanitizer sit on the counter. Cardinal Spirits, a Bloomington distillery, began making hand sanitizer in addition to gin amid the COVID-19 pandemic.</p>

Bottles of hand sanitizer sit on the counter. Cardinal Spirits, a Bloomington distillery, began making hand sanitizer in addition to gin amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fear over the coronavirus pandemic has created a lack of hand sanitizer products on shelves around Bloomington. 

Local Bloomington business Cardinal Spirits is using its distillery to produce more than 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer each week.

After hearing about hand sanitizer shortages due to the pandemic, the company began producing 5-gallon buckets of hand sanitizer in mid-March. By March 30, the company had halted normal production and was exclusively distilling sanitizer for the public.

Jeff Wuslich, co-founder and president of Cardinal Spirits, said they made the decision to transition to sanitizer production almost overnight.

“We saw that there is a real need for sanitizer, and we had the resources to make it,” Wuslich said. 

Cardinal Spirits has been donating the sanitizer to places in need such as police and fire departments, hospitals, the postal service and rehab and healthcare facilities that were unable to get sanitizer from their normal sources. They’ve also donated to trucking companies that rely on hand sanitizer to keep their employees safe on the go. 

The sanitizer complies with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that advise using a sanitizer with over 60% alcohol content to fight the virus if soap is unaccessible. 

Cardinal Spirits is asking larger businesses that can afford to pay for the products to do so but is happy to donate to those in need.

Due to mass demand, they have had to pause production on spirits and other products. 

Wuslich said he's lucky to be able to keep his staff employed and working around the clock, even though they had to make the abrupt switch to hand sanitizer production.

“They’ve been really supportive,” Wuslich said. “They’re just happy to join the fight.”

Communications director Erica Sagon said the company has been working tirelessly to meet sales goals through communication with social media followers.

“It's always tricky to be transparent about our sales needs,” Sagon said. “We’re trying to be honest about what we need to keep our carryout and operations going during this time.”

The company posts its daily sales goals for its shelved products such as canned cocktails and cocktails-to-go on Instagram. Sagon said achieving these goals will allow them to keep distributing the sanitizer to the public for free. 

“People seem to really appreciate it,” Sagon said. “It seems to have opened up a new level of communication with our customers.”

Sanitizer might be hard to find on grocery store shelves, but citizens can bring their own small bottle to fill up at the distillery’s location at 922 S. Morton St., Bloomington.

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