Dive Deeper Blog

Keeping It Real: The Challenge of Selling Sanitizer during a Pandemic

April 17, 2020

Like most small businesses today, we are concerned about our future. Before coronavirus, we were well-stocked and prepared for a busy travel and safe sunscreen season.

Then BAM…the world is suddenly very different.

As we looked for ways to stay productive, I had the opportunity to buy some alcohol.  I added camphor for its antiviral properties and eucalyptus to support lung function, then fast-tracked our alcohol license and FDA registration.  I posted the product on my personal Facebook page asking for input on the label.  I didn’t know how long the supply would last, or where I would get our next lot of packaging, but the next thing I knew, we had orders coming out of our ears!

We shipped over 10,000 bottles the first week – without promoting ANYWHERE!  Most of the first orders went to personal friends (THANK YOU) and to local first responders and retailers.

It’s gratifying that we have managed to keep our staff busy AND support our local community during this time of crisis, BUT in the process, we have managed to frustrate some of our accounts and sales team.  “WHY will you not allow us to sell this to all of our accounts who are begging for sanitizer?”  WHY can we not order for our stores?”

Trust me when I say that we really, really would like to fill every order we’ve received!

After the first few weeks, I was nervous that we wouldn’t be able to find a steady supply of alcohol.  The suppliers are all sold out, and those that have it in stock have TRIPLED their prices.  We paid about $220 per drum for the first barrels. Now I am happily paying over $600 and am just grateful to have found a steady supply.

Now packaging is the problem.  I started out buying all the bottles and sprayers that I could find.  Trigger sprayers that once cost 0.20 each are now commonly priced at over $1.00 — if we’re lucky enough to find them!  And my beloved bio-based bottles?  Long gone, and the lead time for more is two to six months…maybe longer.

I was able to secure more sprayers this morning, so we will be good for another week or two.  I am sharing this blog for two reasons:

  1. I am truly sorry to those that I haven’t been able to supply and to those that had to wait longer than expected to get their orders. We have been prioritizing our shipments — local customers and first responders first, and then trying to take care of everyone else as the orders come in.
  2. PLEASE RECYCLE and consider buying REFILL SIZES.  Instead of ordering six of our 2-ounce bottles, maybe just buy one or two with a 32-ounce bottle to refill them.  I would appreciate it, and so would our planet.
Thank you for understanding and for your ongoing support. We will come through this…Stronger and better, together!
Be safe and stay healthy!


Autumn Blum
Formulator & CEO

From Stream2Sea – Protect what you love 

Autumn Blum, Founder & Cosmetic Chemist of Stream2Sea, the ONLY mineral sunscreen that’s been tested and proven safe for fish and coral larvae, AND has passed the stringent HEL Labs Protect Land + Sea certification.