'This bag helped a small business': Okanagan-designed cloth bag aims to help out struggling businesses

Buy a bag, help local biz

One night in March, Susie Gay was laying awake worrying about the impact COVID was going to have on her family’s seasonal tourism-based businesses -- Antlers Surf lifestyle apparel and Penticton Paddle Surf rentals.

“I started thinking about the many other businesses impacted by COVID who are going through the same worries and I just knew I had to do something,” she said. “That’s when the bag idea popped into my head."

More than a month later, her dream to help has been realized and the support she’s felt from local businesses has made the journey that much more powerful.

“We’ve registered a new non-profit organization, The Bag Helps, with 100 per cent of proceeds put back into helping small businesses by offering them micro grants.”

You can now buy a bag that reads: “This Bag Helped a Small Business," with proceeds going to create grants for local businesses. Also available are "This Bag Helped Feed a Child” and they will donate all proceeds to local food banks and food hamper programs, and "This Bag Helped Educate a Girl.”

“We just launched and have raised about $1,000 so far, and will be starting the micro-grants program once we raise another $1,000," Gay said of the small business bags. 

She created the design of the bags and found an ethically-sourced company to make the high-quality certified organic cotton bags. She also worked with a local screen printer Ink Works who did all the water-based printing.

“He was wonderful to work with and it’s another example of a small business impacted by COVID. Normally, he would be doing the screen printing for things like the Giants Head Run and other events which have all been cancelled this summer,” she pointed out.

“The idea behind buying a bag is to support businesses and causes that make up the framework of our community. Businesses have closed their doors to help keep everyone safe, and now let’s return the favour and help keep their business safe and well.”

Why a bag, especially now that we can’t use reusable bags at stores?

“The idea is to buy a bag now, and help raise funds for small businesses currently – when they need it most. Then once normal life resumes, you can use the bag, save on plastic, and help spread awareness about causes you believe in,” said Gay.

“We know our micro-grants won’t cover rent or big ticket costs like that but it may help a business stay afloat some other way,” Gay added. “A really lovely thing that has already come out of starting This Bag is connecting with so many small businesses here in Penticton and Summerland."

“Everyone still wants to help each other. These are really challenging times and yet everyone I talk to is eager to support one another in every way they can. It’s really uplifting and inspiring for me to continue on this journey.”

With more time at home with their kids, the non-profit is a true family affair.

“I have always told my daughter, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. She is really seeing that in this initiative. That’s why we have also started another avenue of This Bag.”

The bags are available for $28. For more information click here

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