As it watched the small community close up, family-owned business Diamond K Sweets in Spencer, Indiana, wanted to find some way to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kristi Risk, 49, and her four kids have been making hand sanitizer for Owen County first responders, emergency workers and residents since businesses were ordered to close down last month. On top of making hand sanitizer, the family is still making candy and chocolate while preparing to open a new store in Bloomington.
Risk said her family wasn’t prepared for the shutdown. They were planning to open a new store in Bloomington in late May when Gov. Eric Holcomb ordered businesses to close. The family closed the storefront in Spencer and switched to doing curbside pickup and online orders.
The store is selling four-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer for $7. People can bring back the empty bottles to be sanitized and resold for $5. Risk said they've sold about 240 bottles so far.
Kelsie Risk-Reyes, 25, said she knew her mom wanted the family to help the community, even if they weren’t able to sell candy in the store. She said it didn’t take long for them to realize they had the equipment in the store and the space to make hand sanitizer in bulk, similar to some restaurants and breweries.
“She’s always instilled in us to help others and go the extra mile,” Risk-Reyes said. “We’re not doctors or scientists, but we’re still able to help.”
Risk said she usually works from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and about five hours of that is spent making hand sanitizer. Her kids, ranging in age from 13 to 25, help with the candy side of business while she makes the hand sanitizer.
“It used to smell like chocolate in here, and we’d get compliments for that,” Risk said. “But now it smells like bleach.”
Risk said she was originally making the hand sanitizer only for first responders and medical workers, but she soon had residents driving up to the store asking if they could buy it. She said she realized there was a real need for it, so they switched to making more for the community.
“The real heroes are the EMS and the nurses,” Risk-Reyes said. “What we’re doing really is nothing.”
A couple weeks before Easter, the town canceled its Easter egg hunt, and around the same time, someone canceled an order of 900 bags of fudge from Diamond K Sweets. Risk said morale was low around the city after the Easter egg hunt was canceled, so she and her kids put fudge in bags with a little note celebrating the holiday. They put bags on every door within city limits.
Risk said they plan to donate remaining fudge from that order to Hoosier Hills Food Bank.
The family said they’re still planning to open a new candy and chocolate store in Bloomington called DK Sweets at the end of May. They plan to sell hand sanitizer and do curbside pickup until Holcomb declares it’s OK to reopen businesses.
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