When store shelves were stripped of cleaning supplies and toilet paper early in the COVID-19 pandemic, two South Surrey and White Rock businesses quickly acted to fill the void.
And while there wasn’t much they could do about the toilet paper shortage, 3 Dogs Brewing (1515 Johnston Rd.) and Mainland Whisky (107 3425 189 St.) shifted gears to produce and donate cleaning products and hand-sanitizer.
It’s been about a year since the demand for such products subsided, and the owners of both businesses said they helped out simply because they had the capacity to do so.
Reflecting on the effort, 3 Dogs Brewing co-owner Pam Glazier said they risked fines in order to do something they saw was for the greater good of the community.
“I don’t even know if you should put this in print, but this was before the government gave us authorization to do it,” Glazier said. “We have a brewery licence, we don’t have a distilling licence. But you know what, crazy times call for crazy measures. There is no hand sanitizer out there. This is a pandemic, we’ll take the hit, let’s get going on it.”
The brewery began the distilling process, which can take up to two weeks, while waiting for official approval from the government.
“Finally, the government said, hey, if you’re a brewery and you have the ability to do it, do it. So luckily, before we cracked our first can of it, we had the authorization to do it,” Glazier said.
In April last year, 3 Dogs began donating sanitizer to the RCMP, firefighters, HandyDART and Peace Arch Hospital. After covering first responders, the brewery started giving sanitizer away to the community, but requested a small donation.
“Strictly to cover the cost, which, of course, it didn’t, but that’s OK. We now have hand sanitizer for us to use, and go figure, we still use it,” Glazier said. “We just wanted everyone to have it, everyone to be safe, and we’ll figure it out later.”
Ultimately, 3 Dogs ended up giving away 355 litres of hand sanitizer, or 2,800 125ml bottles.
Similar to 3 Dogs, Mainland Whisky owner Steve Watts said his company started producing cleaning products in March after shelves started to empty.
In total, Mainland donated 350 litres of surface cleaner, and donated 100 litres of hand sanitizer to charities and hospitals in Surrey, Langley and White Rock.
The company did ask customers for a small donation if they requested sanitizer to help cover the costs. Surface cleaner was given away for free, provided a customer brought in a bottle to fill.
The sanitizer, Watts explained, requires glycerin and hydrogen peroxide, and both materials were hard to find.
A team of volunteers canvassed convenience stores throughout the Lower Mainland, buying every bottle of peroxide they could find, he said. Glycerin was even harder to source.
“If it wasn’t for one gentleman in the community. He actually rode his bike past the distillery quite a bit. He came one day and dropped off a five-gallon bucket of glycerin. He just said, ‘Here, you can have that,’” Watts said. “That was the glycerin that I used in basically all of the hand sanitizer.”
Once store shelves were replenished with sanitizer and cleaner, Watts said they stopped producing the products. However, he renewed his provincial permit in 2021 to manufacture the material, just in case.
“You can get hand sanitizer, you can get surface cleaner anywhere now and there’s so much of it. There’s no point in creating it if the demand is gone,” Watts said.