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Elmira company producing hand sanitizer as virus hits

Benjamin Murphy (right) and Gage Murphy with some of the hand sanitizer now being made at Murphy’s Law Distillery in Elmira. [Sean Heeger]

Usually focused on your taste buds rather than your finger tips, Elmira-based Murphy’s Law Distillery has branched out to making hand sanitizer in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Company owner Benjamin Murphy said the move was prompted by seeing the store shelves cleared bare as people began stockpiling necessary household products, with some of them turning around and selling items at a profit really. Given the shortage of products such as hand sanitizer, he decided to do something about it to ensure the health and safety of frontline workers and the rest of the community during the COVID-19 crisis.

“That really ticked me off seeing that (people stockpiling household products),” said Murphy. “We’re doing everything at cost and you can kind of tell when someone is taking advantage of a situation. If you’re an organization and you need 400 bottles … definitely it’s going out to them. If you’re one person and you’re coming in here asking for a bottle, that’s fine. If you’re coming in here asking for 20 bottles, not so much.”

The moonshine he regularly makes and the hand sanitizer are both alcohol-based products, making the new line a fairly easy addition.

Murphy said he tested his hand sanitizer solution a week prior to selling, asking his family and friends for their opinions. He then told the head of Elmira District Community Living about his product, and from there the project took on a life of its own.

Spreading the word on the company’s Facebook page March 18 to let the community know about their sanitizer, Murphy received orders for more than 1,000 bottles within hours of the initial post. He says they have also been contacted by multiple police services and others who employ frontline workers.

To protect those workers who have to be out there every day during the pandemic, Murphy says they are selling their product at cost and making no profit because they want to keep everyone safe and healthy.

“Everyone that orders one, we’re not making profit from it,” said Murphy. “We do charge a little bit of labour to cover [costs] but our profit is coming from the LCBO and our retail sales … so this is more just to get the community happy and healthy.”

Their sanitizer is very basic, with no added bells and whistles, Murphy noted, pointing out the goal is to simply kill off bacteria.

While they’re taking on this new venture during the COVID-19 pandemic, Murphy wants customers to know that they’re still making moonshine and hope for their continued support.

“That’s where our profit is coming in from so, they’re still being made (the moonshine). You can order at our front door; you can order online. We’re going to see a better rollout in terms of home delivery. So, we’re doing our best to keep that going,” said Murphy.

If you want a bottle of their hand sanitizer, contact Murphy’s Law at Benjamin@murphyslawmoonshine.com. Bottles will be sold to the public once frontline workers have been taken care of.

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