Summerland business gives back

The list of youth-oriented organizations helped out by Penny Lane Bargain Outlet in Summerland over the last decade is a long one.

Shoppers gather in the street outside Summerland’s Penny Lane in 2009 for a prize drop celebrating their first $1 million donated to support youth.

The list of youth-oriented organizations helped out by Penny Lane Bargain Outlet in Summerland over the last decade is a long one.

Its story dates back to 2002, when the bargain store was started by a group of Summerland businesspeople inspired by a request for assistance funding by a youth group. They decided what was needed was a stable funding resource, independent of government whims, which would be able to give back to youth in the area.

“It’s amazing what happens when you get six brilliant people together,” said Erin McHale-Annett, business operations manager for Penny Lane. Those original sponsors were Art Sewell, Bruce Hallquist, Orv Robson, Scott Boswell, Ellen Lloyd and Alan Fabbi, who put their personal guarantee on the line at the credit union for a loan and made use of contacts to buy their first load of liquidated items.

“They rented space on Main Street in Summerland, bought a cash register and off to the races we went,” said McHale-Annett. In the 10 years since, they have purchased two buildings to use as outlets and, most importantly, distributed $1.7 million to youth groups throughout the Okanagan. That list includes schools, sports groups, Penticton Young Writers, the Special Olympics, Agur Lake Camp society and many more.

Penny Lane has also partnered with the Okanagan Skaha School District to provide a full-time youth and family worker for Summerland Secondary School for the past four years, and recently announced that starting in September, they are adding a second worker at the secondary school.

“Not only are we an employer and we offer great service for shopping but at the end of the day, we do invest our money in youth,” said McHale-Annett, adding that they get great support from the community. She attributes the shop’s success and longevity to the foresight of their governing board.

“There are business people on the board, thinking business first, that’s why we have been able to sustain ourselves as long as we have,” she said.

Tomorrow, Penny Lane is celebrating the achievements of its first decade, starting with a prize drop at 9:30 a.m. at their clothing outlet on Victoria Road, with a grand prize of a thousand Penny Lane dollars. Summerland Royalty will be coming by as well, to serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the furniture store on Main Street will be having a parking lot sale between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.