Bag of Toronto local business project returns for the holiday season

A person with a blue sleeve holding a white bag outside on a city street
Bag of Toronto is supporting seven communities across the city, including Kensington Market. Photo courtesy of the Bag of Toronto website.
Daniel Centeno - CJRU - TorontoON | 24-11-2021

In 2020, Nick Milum and Derek Liu saw a need to help Toronto’s local businesses during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic when the city went into lockdown.

With in-person shopping prohibited and foot traffic severely reduced, Milum and Liu helped local businesses by gathering their curated products into one bag and delivering them directly to customers around the city through the Bag of Toronto project.

"We started, honestly, by cold calling businesses, walking into businesses that we knew and really loved, and just saying 'hey, this is an idea we have, we would love to just purchase products from you," said Milum. "We are not looking for hand outs, we are not looking for discounts, we want to pay retail price for these products, and we will bundle them into little goody bags, and we will deliver and sell them on weekends."

All profits from the purchased bags go back to the businesses, with bags selling for $65 each.

The first iteration ran in 2020 in the Bloordale community and was called "Bag of Bloordale."

The project has since expanded to seven more communities and  supports over 55 businesses to date.

Milum, whose parents are local business owners in Vancouver, said he knew first hand what these businesses mean to its owners, and he wanted to help them stay afloat and maintain their promotions throughout the pandemic.

Further, Bag of Toronto has also fostered partnerships with several local charities in each community. Milum said he wanted customers to know that along with their purchases of a bag from a particular community, any added tips will go to a charity in the area as well.

Charities partnered with Bag of Toronto include Sistering, St.Stephen's Community House and the Ralph Thornton Community Centre.

As local businesses prep for the holiday season, the first deliveries for the Bag of Toronto's winter iterations will be on Nov. 27 and Dec. 12 prior to the Christmas holidays.

During this time Milum wants residents to remember that these local businesses still need their support, especially as the pandemic continues.

"We need to show that local Toronto businesses make this city unique - they make this city a really enjoyable place to live and we want them to be here for the long-term."