Local store pulls overpriced medical masks, decides to donate

Overpriced medical masks

A Penticton small business was selling N95 masks for $10 each, drawing concerns from the public about price gouging, until Tuesday when Castanet investigated.

On Tuesday afternoon, Rocky Store on Haven Hill Road had N95 medical-grade masks for sale individually at its front counter, which is in contravention of provincial rules prohibiting resale of medical equipment during the COVID-19 crisis.

Following a visit to the store from Castanet, Jemma Kim of Rocky Store said she and her husband have taken the masks off the shelves and will be donating them instead.

Kim said they did not know resale of medical equipment was prohibited, and said they marked up the price of the masks in a bid to make enough money to survive. 

"In our situation, a small convenience store, every day is really hard," Kim said. "Every day we talk about, should we keep going? Should we shut down?"

Kim said she and her husband bought packs of N95 masks earlier this winter when the COVID-19 virus hit South Korea, where they have family. They hoped to send the masks to them, but when the family had no more need, they began to use the masks themselves and decided to try and sell the extras.

"I never thought Canada would have a shortage of masks," Kim said. "I'm making cloth masks, I'm making the cloth masks for my neighbours right now."

Kim told Castanet she is no longer selling the N95 masks and asked for help connecting with a local organization who would take them as a donation. Castanet directed her to the South Okanagan Division of Family Practice.

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