Free Masks Bring Long Line to Vikre Distillery

Lake Superior Medical Equipment and Duluth Screen Printing team up to make 175 masks to distribute at Vikre.

DULUTH, Minn.- The Center for Disease Control has updated its recommendations, advising people to wear masks while out in public. Now Vikre Distillery is partnering with local businesses to distribute free cloth masks to Northlanders, along with hand sanitizer.

“Keeps us busy while we’re closed, and feels really nice to be able to help the community that way,” said Doug Kouma, Director of Visitor Experience at Vikre.

175 masks were provided by Lake Superior Medical Equipment (LSME), who worked with Duluth Screen Printing to produce them. Included are instructions on how to properly use and sanitize them.

“Vikre was handing out sanitizer a few weeks ago, and so my office came down and got sanitizer then,” Tamara Carlson said. “I picked up some for myself today and now I’m waiting in line for masks.”

After the popularity of Vikre’s handmade sanitizer, to give the masks out there: “it was a natural fit,” said Kouma.

“Save people a trip to multiple spots, just come down to one spot and get as much as you can in one place, he said.

“Once the CDC changed their recommendations and said everyone should be wearing a mask, out in public, we knew there would be a demand and a need,” President of LSME, Tom Jamison, said.

That need for protective equipment is even stronger for certain workplaces, like Carlson’s.

“I work for a healthcare provider in town and we’re running low for our nurses, therapists, office staff,” she said. “And to keep us safe and it’s good for the community.”

Posts within the line in front of the distillery marked six feet of distance between each customer. In the first hour the line filled up. Half of the 175 were given out Tuesday. Staff said the rest will probably run out of that initial batch in the next couple days.

“We’re going to see how quick they go through the supply and then we’ll figure out if we could do more,” Jamison said.

Others have noticed the extra traffic and have come in to help. “While most of our staff has been furloughed, some of them are even coming in and volunteering their hours to just help get this out there for people,” said Kouma.

“Whatever we could to keep people safe in the community, it’s going to benefit all of us,” Jamison said.

And the community seems very thankful. “The masks make me feel better in the workplace,” said Carlson. As they continue to file in, one at a time.

“And walk out of here in much better shape than they walked in,” Kouma said.

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