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South Okanagan produce store asks for local support after business declines due to wildfire

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Nature's Basket

A South Okanagan produce stand and store is asking residents for help to support their business which has seen a drastic reduction in customers due to wildfires in the area.

Beamtjit Chahal, co-owner of Nature’s Basket in Oliver, says they’ve seen 50 to 60% fewer customers in recent weeks and is asking for local support to fill the gap.

“If I look in the surrounding area, (my) fruit stands seem empty. There’s no customers,” she said, adding that she sees people buying from chain stores but hopes they will want to support the smaller businesses during this time.

In a Facebook post, she encouraged all locals to shop at fruit stands in order to support them.

"Please shop at all local fruit stands, markets for all of your fresh fruit and vegetable needs. We need your full support because each and every business is suffering due to fires. All we need is your full support to keep us going," she wrote.

June and the start of July were good for customers, but by mid-July business had dropped, Chahal said.

Around this time she will see 130 to 150 customers, but now she’s been seeing 50 to 70 customers, which she believes is because of the wildfire near Oliver.

Chahal also blames Osoyoos’s mayor for asking tourists to stay away and media reports of wildfires in the area.

Last week, Mayor Sue McKortoff asked tourists to stay away in order for locals to have accommodation and access to food in the event of an evacuation.

READ MORE: Tourists cautioned to think twice before heading toward B.C. towns struggling with wildfires

The Nk'Mip Creek wildfire, burning out of control near Oliver and Osoyoos, is currently mapped at 6,800 hectares in size and has caused numerous evacuation orders and alerts in the region.

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