New Indigenous-owned store will sell only personal protective equipment, other products needed during COVID-19

By | September 9, 2020

A store solely selling personal protective equipment will open its doors in Winnipeg’s Exchange District this week. 

Along with face masks and gel hand sanitizer, Exchange PPE will sell equipment like portable hand-washing stations, foggers and air filtration systems, says Josh Giesbrecht, president and co-founder of the business. 

Products will be sold in bulk and the store will be set up boutique-style, similar to an Apple store, Giesbrecht said. 

“We look to offer our customers not only value, but also bulk so they don’t have to keep returning for items,” he said. 

Exchange PPE president and CEO Josh Giesbrecht says his new store will allow people to buy products in bulk, such as hand santizer and PPE, that are much needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jaison Empson/CBC News )

The store will be located in the old Hermanos Restaurant and Wine Bar in the Ashdown Warehouse on Bannatyne Avenue. In May, the restaurant’s founders Noel Bernier and Najara Barros announced they were partnering with Giesbrecht on the PPE-focused business venture. 

In addition to selling products, Giesbrecht said staff at his store will also show people how to use PPE properly. 

Giesbrecht said the business started earlier this year by selling PPE and sanitization products to companies and First Nations through sales reps.

Because of the success it had, they are now opening to the public. 

“I just saw that there really was no one else across the Prairies that was offering a solely PPE store,” he said. 

The store will have a variety of equipment needed during the pandemic. (Jaison Empson/CBC News )

The company is Indigenous-owned and works closely with First Nations, something Giesbrecht takes great pride in. 

“You know, unfortunately, but I guess fortunately, maybe in this situation, Indigenous communities right across Turtle Island, North America, I would say are attuned to how serious pandemics are, whether you go back as far as, you know, 1492 or all the way to H1N1,” he said. 

“We have a long community memory on these things. So in some regards, I guess I see ourselves as almost leaders that we got to help others to prepare for this.”

Though the need for the store may have been born out of the pandemic, Giesbrecht said there are many products his business sells that will continue to be needed past the pandemic, such as cleaners that not only kill COVID-19 but also black mould. 

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