Okanagan couple launches initiative to help small businesses during COVID-19

Okanagan couple launches initiative to help small businesses during COVID-19

Susie and Bryan Gay want to help their fellow business owners

South Okanagan business owners Susie and Bryan Gay knew they wouldn’t be opening Penticton Paddle Surf and Antlers Surf because of COVID-19.

Instead of staying anxious, the couple decided to turn their energy towards helping fellow business owners by launching an initiative called ‘This Bag Helps’.

They’ve designed organic cotton tote bags for the initiative, with all proceeds going towards small businesses in the Okanagan.

Susie said if things go well and enough funds are raised, they also want to help other businesses outside of the Okanagan and B.C. who may need it.

“My husband and I, we have such a small business and the programs the government put out are really good, but a lot of businesses fall through the cracks especially ones where they don’t have employees and the owner is the employee,” she said.

“We don’t even have a payroll. We can’t capitalize on the no-interest loans… so I was just thinking, how can we help these businesses where $1,000 or $5,000 might really make an impact and help them adapt in these uncertain and ever-changing times?”

Susie said they wanted to use bags for the initiative because they are used a lot and are easily seen.

“They’re really good for creating awareness and for sparking a conversation. It’s also good for when we can use reusable bags again in grocery stores because that will minimize our plastic use again. So it’s two-fold.”

It’s not an easy time for anyone, but Susie is encouraging people to always keep small and local businesses in mind and to support them however they can.

“That could be monetarily, but that could also be offering them support, checking in and creating that sense of community. That’s what’s important, just to know we all are in this together and it impacts so many people and businesses and that we’ll get through it.”

The Gays’ initiative also supports various charities. Susie said just as small businesses are being impacted, charities are also struggling and she said they want to fill in the gap in help.

“We’re currently in conversations with the Malala Fund and also Water.org and it’s the same principle: all the profits from those bags will go towards those charities, to keep and support the services they have in the community.”

To purchase a bag and support Okanagan businesses, visit This Bag’s website.

If you know others who are giving back and helping those in need during this critical time, send us an email and let us know!

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Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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