The abrupt announcement that Keremeos’ Growers Supply CO. will be shutting down has farmers and residents frustrated and concerned for their future.
Farmers were informed near the end of October via email of the store’s impending closure after over 30 years in Keremeos. They were given no reason as to why the store plans to shut it doors on Nov. 21.
Growers Supply CO. is the only establishment in Keremeos where residents can buy specialized farming supplies and many other supplies.
Its closure will leave many farmers, like Banes Orchard owner Ravinder Banes, with no other option than to drive to Penticton or Oliver for farm equipment. Banes said this is yet another tough break in what has already been a hard year for farmers.
Labour shortages and unusual weather wreaked havoc on many South Okanagan farms this year. For Keremeos farmers, not having a place in town to buy supplies will only compound these problems, said Banes.
“This is a challenging year for the farmers… with farming sometimes something goes wrong and you need something immediately, if now I have to drive 55 kilometres to Oliver to get my stuff it’s going to be really bad.”
Banes has run his business in Keremeos for 20 years and shopped at Growers Supply CO. the entire time. He said he doesn’t expect another business to come in and fill the void left by Growers Supply CO. anytime soon.
Mohinder Dhaliwal owns A&M Orchards and has been growing in Keremeos for 31 years; buying supplies from Growers Supply CO. the entire time. He said having to drive to Penticton or Oliver constantly will cost his business a significant amount of time and money.
“It’s a big problem… right now I can drive here and get what I need in five minutes, a trip to Penticton could take over two hours depending on traffic and weather,” Dhaliwal said. “It’s a lot of time and money… without this farming will be very tough.”
It’s not just farmers who are disappointed in the store’s closure. Farmers were joined by other a handful Keremeos residents outside of Growers Supply CO. Wednesday (Nov. 4) as they gathered to voice their concerns to the media.
Tom Haker was there and spoke out on how the loss of the store will be a huge blow to the community.
“That’s a retail outlet for the whole end of the valley, there’s nothing between here and Princeton and it’s 30 miles to Penticton.”
Haker frequents Growers Supply CO. to buy dog food and supplies like pipes, fence posts and pruning shears for his small Keremeos acreage. He said once Growers Supply CO. is closed he’ll have to drive to Oliver to buy these items.
“It’s frustrating because we’re just seeing something else disappear.”