Wish You Were Here

Posted on : Friday, May 01, 2020

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Even when we’re apart, the people of Medicine Hat come together.

There’s something special that happens in this city when tough times hit, and as COVID-19 continues to take “tough” to a whole new level, stories are emerging every day of people and businesses doing what they can to look after one another.

From volunteers making personal protective equipment, to roaming $100 donations, Hatters are showing their love from a distance at a time when no one is unaffected by current conditions.

Tiki Press, a screen printing and embroidery shop on Kingsway Avenue, has had a lot less of its normal work to do these days, but the extra time available has allowed staff to launch a fundraising initiative in support of local businesses that have also had regular routines drastically altered.

And in typical Medicine Hat fashion, the response has been more than anyone could have hoped for.


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Wish You Were Here is a program where consumers can purchase custom-designed shirts unique to a specific business that would then collect half the proceeds to use in whatever fashion it needs at this time. Each shirt is designed by the Tiki Press team with a hand-drawn version of the business’s logo, and in barely a week’s time there are more than 20 businesses involved and a backlog of at least that many looking to take part.


“The morning we launched we had dozens of emails from businesses asking to be part of this,” says Jeff Barrett, who owns Tiki Press along with his wife Amy Gervais. “This gives us something to do. The idea of this for us wasn’t about making a bunch of money. We wanted to make it cost-effective for people to buy, while also generating funds for these businesses that are maybe not open, or open in a reduced capacity, and at no cost to them.”

While not all business are facing the same adversity at this time, Barrett says the money each receives is theirs to do with as needed, and what he’s seeing from participants is remarkable. Some need support right now just to keep operating, which is the point of the initiative in the first place, but those involved that are weathering the COVID storm a little easier have been using proceeds to support their staff and the community.

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Once again, the generosity is being paid forward — it’s the Medicine Hat way.

“Some business are more fortunate right now but some are wondering how they will keep their doors open, so we wanted to make sure nobody felt pressure over what to do with the money.

“That’s the key of this: If you need it, that’s what it’s there for.”

Wish You Were Here was launched April 23 and sold about 500 shirts in the first week — numbers Barrett said he hasn’t seen before for other online store initiatives. He says the morning the program launched, orders were coming in every few minutes, which just goes to show how eager people were to help out.

“It’s like anything — you put something out there and hope that it works well,” he says. “But when we put this out, the response was just crazy. People in this community obviously care a lot about local business.”

They care about business and they care about each other, because in Medicine Hat that's just how it's done.


To learn more and to do your part for local businesses with the purchase of a shirt, visit https://www.tikipress.ca/shop