Kamloops dry cleaner offers free service to people on the job hunt | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops dry cleaner offers free service to people on the job hunt

A sign posted by Thompson Cleaners and Tailors in Kamloops is gathering attention online. And for a change, positive attention.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Karen Elizabeth
March 08, 2021 - 7:30 AM

Despite business dropping off by roughly 70% amid the pandemic, a Kamloops dry cleaning company will clean an interview outfit for free for those who are unemployed.

Alex Zalmai, owner of Thompson Cleaners and Tailors, posted a sign that read, “If you are unemployed and need an outfit cleaned for an interview, we will clean it for free,” on March 2 at his business at 945 Columbia St. W in the Sahali Mall.

A few weeks ago, a man dropped off some items at the dry cleaners, and said he was looking for a job and had an interview scheduled.

“I realized he could not afford to pay. At that moment, I didn’t charge him and told him very nicely that it was a gift. At that point, I decided… if someone comes to us here, we’re going to help. It’s a small thing we can do, and it just started from there,” Zalmai said.

About five people have already taken his offer and had their outfits cleaned for their job interviews, he said. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people in one way or another, so he said people and businesses need to support one another.

The unemployment rate for the Thompson-Okanagan region for 2021 is currently at 7.4% with and average of 23,200 people that are unemployed, according to Statistics Canada. In 2020, the rate was listed at 5.6% with 17,000 people that were unemployed.

A photo of Zalmai's sign was shared on a well-known Kamloops Facebook group and gathered almost 500 reactions as of March 4.

“I moved from Toronto eight years ago and I made my home here because this town is actually about helping others, helping each other. At the beginning of COVID, this industry was hit very hard but I’ve received a tremendous amount of support from the community,” Zalmai said.

At the beginning of the pandemic, he and his family made roughly 12,000 masks, only asking people to pay what they could for them.

The money they received was invested back into supplies to create more masks, he said, adding they didn’t make a profit.

He said compared to 2019, the business saw a massive decline of business, around 65 to 70% because of the pandemic.

“Small businesses, we all are crawling, it’s not good. So if we can help each other during these hard times somehow, that’s going to make a difference and at the end of the day we’ll get through this and the good news will remain,” Zalmai said, adding there’s hope for the industry with the vaccine.

Dry cleaners overall have been hit hard as the industry relies on travellers and white-collared business people who are now working from home in their pyjamas, he said. People aren’t travelling, and parties and weddings aren’t being held, all former customers.

“We’re lucky that we’re still open, but we'll see how it goes.”

The sign will remain up until there’s a point when residents no longer need it, he said.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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