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A new local business has found a way to stay afloat.

The Waypoint VRcade in Mishawaka hasn’t been able to get any financial aid, so they’re selling homemade hand sanitizer and apothic bath products, along with T-shirt in front of their store. For every one sold, a bottle of hand sanitizer goes to first responders.

Two months ago it was shaping up to be an exciting new place to play in Mishawaka. The owner Todd Van Leeuwin says at first, the business was booming.

“I’m getting emotional right now, it was awesome,” said Van Leeuwin.

The arcade is a dream he’s worked on for two years, only to have coronavirus hit two weeks after their grand opening.

“A couple of days of screaming into the pillow,” said Van Leeuwin. “It was heartbreaking to have to shut down, it’s hard enough to open a business in normal conditions.”

He said the shop hasn’t been able to get any financial aid because they are so new.

So what does a small business do when they have no food for take out, and the whole premise of their sales involves strapping a shared device to your face?

Turns out, Van Leeuwin has a passion for potions and has been perfecting his hand sanitizer recipe for months. He said he’s consulted with chemists and doctors about which ingredients wouldn’t leave your hands dried out and has tested the product on himself, and occasionally his wife.

“Before I knew it my house was turned into sanitize city,” said Jennifer Van Leeuwin, Todd’s wife. “It’s a wild ride, I said in my vows I’d be with him and support him on every crazy adventure no matter how weird it is.”

Van Leeuwin said he’s not trying to profiteer off a pandemic but rather, wants a reason to pay his employees.

“When I got told I could come back I was so excited I like got ready three hours early so I could be here, just to be here,” said employee Kenzie Pulling.

In fact, Van Leeuwin had wanted to try making bath products even before the coronavirus started, and now was the perfect time to start.

“I keep hearing about it and everything that you guys keep going through and it’s like, we’re going,” said customer DJ Cannan.

Cannan was willing to drive half an hour because they want to support the small guys.

“I live in Elkhart,” said Canaan. “I would much rather give my money to the small businesses who are trying to make it as opposed to a big box store who is already made it.

Facebook bans running ads for sanitizers, but the VRcade has got a bit of publicity help from the local radio station, 103.9 the Bear, who set up a tent and brought people in.

With budgets so tight, the company is shaving its profits by giving so much hand sanitizer away to first responders.

“I feel like if we just look out for ourselves nobody would care about us and we wouldn’t be doing our job,” said Van Leeuwin. “I think everything is gonna work out in the long run as long as we do what is right for the community.”

Turns out even in times of trouble, there’s always room to give back.

They plan to make the sales a weekly event, on Fridays from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon to 4:00 p.m.


Originally posted on https://wsbt.com/, by Selina Guevaran: Link »