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A shout-out to small businesses: Old Herald Brewery and Distillery in Collinsville

During the month of May, Today in St. Louis is featuring small businesses working to stay open despite problems caused by the pandemic

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — Small business owners need a high-five and a salute for staying afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On May 11, the Today and St. Louis team recognized Old Herald Brewery and Distillery in Collinsville.

At the start of the pandemic, the staff made hand sanitizer and gave it away for free to first responders.

Last fall when the state of Illinois ordered another shutdown of indoor dining, owner Derik Reiser said he thought he might lose the business.

He had to get creative to stay open. Old Herald turned its dining room into a holiday market, selling its spirits and other items from local non-profits to help those organizations during tough times.

"The local support has been phenomenal. Before the pandemic, 70% of our business came from out of town and that flipped through the pandemic," Reiser said.

With restrictions easing and vaccinations increasing, Reiser said he's seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

He said some of his customers are taking pictures with their COVID-19 vaccination cards at the brewery to mark their first outing since getting the shot. He said he's honored that they would choose his business to mark such an occasion.