On December 13, 2011 Brittany Sherwood Eldridge and her unborn baby whom she was eight and a half months pregnant with were brutally murdered in her apartment in Knoxville, TN. Since that time, her brother Jeff Sherwood and his mother, Robin Owens have started a non-profit foundation called The Brittany and Zeke Foundation, to help raise awareness for violence against pregnant women. The Foundation gives 100% of its charitable donations to various causes including the Family Justice Center and YWCA, and is constantly holding fundraising events to help other causes such as providing school supplies to the children in Haiti. Over the past two and half years, Jeff and Robin have helped the Knoxville, TN community tremendously, but now, Jeff is asking for help from the community to help fund his own venture.
Jeff Sherwood is the owner of Vol Vapors, an electronic cigarette retailer in Knoxville, TN. On July 28, 2014, he started a Go Fund Me campaign to help him raise the money he needs to open the doors of that business in a new location. At the beginning of 2014, Jeff and his wife poured all of their savings into inventory, advertising materials, display furnishings, rent and other necessities needed to open their business at Green Acres Flea Market in Alcoa, TN. The couple was doing great and were starting to build customer relationships when their shop was robbed of approximately $6000 in inventory.
“I could feel my stomach drop when I went by the shop during the week to count inventory so I could reorder anything we needed,” said Jeff Sherwood. “The shop was a mess and I could tell right away that a significant portion of our inventory was gone. At that moment, I felt as though everything I had ever dreamed of and everything I had worked so hard to do to get the business going was gone.”
Since that time, Jeff has been selling electronic cigarette starter kits and e-juice from his remaining inventory and saving every dollar he makes to reopen his shop in a brick and mortar location. Mr. Sherwood was under the impression that the flea market he initially opened the shop in had insurance that would cover his inventory; however, the flea market instructed him that the only thing he could do is file a police report and hope the police caught the thieves who stole his merchandise. That report was filed nearly four months ago and there is still no word on an arrest.
“It took two and a half years for the police to make an arrest in the murder of my sister and nephew, so I know how the justice system works,” said Jeff. “Although law enforcement did eventually arrest someone for killing Brittany and Zeke I feel as though they have failed me on multiple levels, and now I am left with questions. Will I have to wait for 2 and a half years for them to arrest someone for robbing my business? Will they ever arrest anyone, and if they do will I ever get my merchandise back or receive restitution?”
Jeff says he isn’t waiting around for law enforcement to try to recover his stolen merchandise. Instead he is hoping that the community and those who read his story around the world will be willing to help him get his business back up and running. He is pouring everything he has into Vol Vapors but he is still a little short of what he needs to make his business a success.
“I got into this business to make money to support my family, but money is not my only reason for operating the business,” said Jeff. “I love being able to help people quit smoking and save the money they are currently spending on cigarettes. I have had so many customers come back to me and tell me about how they were instantly able to make the transition from smoking to using electronic cigarettes and how great they feel and how much money they are saving. It is stories like that let me know that I cannot give up on my dreams no matter how much adversity I face.”
If you would like to help Jeff Sherwood with the funds he lacks to open Vol Vapors in a brick and mortar location, you can visit his Go Fund Me page to make a donation. Jeff says he understands that not everyone who visits his page will be able to financially make a donation, but says people can still help by sharing his campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else they can.