By Jeff Lysiak, Island Sun - Sanibel Island, FL
For nearly two years, the war against no-see-ums, mosquitoes, midges, black flies and other biting insects is now being won by human populations following the invention of No No-See-Um, an all-natural, skin-safe bug repellent created by a pair of Sanibel residents.
But now, the popular and effective anti-insect spray is facing another battle, and the locally owned and operated company could use the assistance of some fellow islanders to claim another important victory.[break]
Beginning on March 7, No No-See-Um became one of more than 4,000 products to be entered into Get On The Shelf, an online contest sponsored by retail giant Walmart. The top three products – as selected by two rounds of voting (via Facebook and text messaging) – will become eligible to be distributed by the world’s leading retailer.
“We are a local product looking to go national,” said Caroline Semerjian, COO and co-founder of No No-See-Um. “There’s a huge need with a safe, effective product like this out there. It’s so frustrating when people call us up and ask where they can buy our spray where they live, and I have to tell them that – outside of Sanibel and Captiva and a few places in Florida – they can only get it online. Winning this contest would be a really big boost for us.”
Currently, the all-natural, DEET, PABA and paraben-free insect repellent is distributed at more than 60 locations on the islands as well as several retailers in Southwest Florida. It is also available at single outlet stores in Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina.
According to Kip Buntrock, director of sales for No No-See-Um, his sister alerted him to the Get On The Shelf competition after she saw it televised on a morning news program.
"I called Caroline and told her we had to get in on this," said Buntrock. "We bounced around a couple of ideas for a video, which we shot during the second week in February. And some of it was even filmed right here on Sanibel."
In the two minute, five second commercial, several humorous scenarios where the No No-See-Um spray is used – including a wedding, golf outing and fishing trip – shows the Waterside Inn, Bailey’s General Store, Beachview Golf Club and Island Pharmacy.
“We wanted it to be funny, but we also wanted to show how No No-See-Um spray is able to help out in many ways,” added Buntrock.
The first round of Get On The Shelf voting will end on April 3, with the top 10 products receiving the most votes moving on to the second round. Between April 11 and 24, the final round of voting will take place, with one grand prize winner and two first prize winners selected. The grand prize winner will receive an opportunity to have their product sold on Walmart.com and in retail stores across the county, or be issued a check for $12,500. Each first prize winner will also receive the same opportunity, or be issued a check for $10,000.
"This is a great opportunity for a ‘Mom & Pop’ business to get some national exposure for their product," said Semerjian. “Perhaps other chain stores will hear about our product and want to carry it, so something like this could be a huge stepping stone for us.”
To watch the No No-See-Um video and vote for it to win the Get On The Shelf competition, visit www.getontheshelf.com/product/4245/No-No-See-Um (Tiny URL http://goo.gl/lb7Na). There is a link to vote for the product via Facebook or by sending a text from your mobile phone to 38383, with the message 4245. People may vote once per day using each method.
For additional information, visit www.nonoseeum.com.