Troy Kingsbury, owner of the Village Grocery (VG) in Waitsfield, is on another philanthropic quest. If you were at the VG last Wednesday afternoon, you may have seen the fruits of Kingsbury’s charitable labor: a truck-full of tampons, ready to be delivered to the Vermont Food Bank and the local food shelf.
The way Kingsbury got a truck-full of tampons (and other disposable menstrual products) on his hands was after a loyal VG customer approached Kingsbury in April with a special request. In confidence, this customer gave Kingsbury a $5,000 check and asked him to “work his magic,” and get as many disposable menstrual products to food shelves as possible.
“The customer, who said they wanted to be anonymous, came to me and said they’d learned that life not always fair, and that a major hardship for women, specifically, was getting access to menstrual products. They gave me a check and trusted me to take that money and try to extend the purchasing power of it,” he explained.
After the exchange, with his mind on the mission, Kingsbury reached out to feminine product companies directly. “But they weren’t really interested in doing things for people,” said Kingsbury. Eventually, Kingsbury was able to make a deal with the VG’s wholesale company, Capital Candy, to get a pallet and a half of disposable menstrual products delivered to the VG.
The deal was that Capital Candy would provide the disposable menstrual products at its cost. That means the products were double discounted, as they were charged at the wholesaler’s price, the cheapest price in the seller’s chain. “We were able to really extend the purchase power of that $5,000 check. We got around $7,000 worth of product,” said Kingsbury.
As soon as the products arrived at the VG last week, Kingsbury started contacting food shelves. “I contacted our local food shelf, and they just took box after box. And after that I contacted the Vermont Food Bank and drove out there to deliver,” said Kingsbury. “That’s the only time they’ve ever had a mass quantity of disposable menstrual products delivered in the history of the food bank.”
Throughout the entire process, Kingsbury learned that the need for menstrual products in food banks is often completely overlooked. While people often donate things like toilet paper, diapers and soap, they seem to forget the need for menstrual products, which are just as necessary as any of the previous sanitary items mentioned.
“You could probably get away without buying paper towels, you could probably get away without buying laundry detergent, but this is one of those things you just have to get,” said Kingsbury.
While he admitted that, “guys just don’t think about those things,” Kingsbury also mentioned that, while running the VG, there were times that he saw young women try to steal tampons. “But now the Mad River Valley is well stocked for a while” he added, glad to take this insecurity off women’s minds.
A five-star project in all, the menstrual product donation mission was a success due to the donation from the VG customer, coupled with Kingsbury’s philanthropic philosophy. “It just takes effort. If you’re willing to take a good deed and add to it with whatever effort that you can, it’s just a great way to expand it and help the community,” he said.
When asked why he thought the customer came to him in the first place, Kingsbury said he suspected that in the midst the nationwide crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, people feel compelled to help each other more than ever. “Right now, we don’t know where COVID is going to go. We don’t know what the future is going to hold. I think that those simple acts of kindness are really starting to sprout up. People want to feel connected and do something for their neighbors.”