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Small business owner in Grand Falls-Windsor believes town purchase creates direct competition

It takes perseverance and hard work for a small business to thrive, but it also helps if you’re not in competition with your municipality.

Kaywood Elliott, owner of Golden Ticket Rentals in Grand Falls-Windsor, seems to be in that position.

He rents out inflatables like obstacle courses and bouncy castles as well as wedding tents and other items.

He has been operating his business in Grand Falls-Windsor for nine years and has been renting his equipment to the town for events like Grand Falls Day, Canada Day and the Salmon Festival activities.

Just recently, the town decided to purchase its own bouncy castle for events, meaning it would no longer require the services of the local small business.

“To say I’m concerned is an understatement,” said Elliott.

He is appalled at the towns decision to purchase equipment that cuts off his business.

He says the town had already taken business away when it purchased tents to be used during the Salmon Festival.

"They’re in direct competition with me,” Elliott said, “if they didn’t have their tents, the promoter would have needed to get tents and they would have rented them from me."

Golden Ticket Rentals travels all over the province renting out equipment and its revenue is not dictated solely on whether or not the town of Grand Falls-Windsor rents equipment a few times a year.

"But that’s not the point” said Elliott “it shouldn’t be this way, we need to change this system.”

Last year, when Elliott caught wind of what the town was planning to do, he found himself wondering, “Does somebody on council not like me? Could this be personal?”

So he spoke with the mayor at the time, Al Hawkins, who suggested he write a letter to council.

It's the same advice he received from present mayor Barry Manuel.

Elliott eventually did write a letter to council outlining his concerns, which included not only taking away from his small business, but also safety. He questioned whether or not the town knew how to take proper care of such equipment.

"I even said in my letter, 'Guys, let me operate Canada Day, Grand Falls Day and let me rent my tents for Salmon Festival. Anything over and above that you use your inflatable and your tents. I’d be fine with that," said Elliott.

He said he even offered to work out a deal or some type of discount, “but they turned that down, they’re not even willing to compromise, not even willing to discuss it.”

Elliott's concerns were brought up at the latest council meeting.

Mayor Manuel addressed the issue saying, “it’s not something we do lightly and we’re not in the practice of competing with local business.”

But he added that the assistant director of recreation wanted to run some programs that made regular use of the inflatables and, with the budget considerations, comparing purchase with rental, "we had no choice."

“I would liken it to the Public Works Department buying a piece of equipment," the mayor continued. “If we use it a lot, it becomes impractical to rent.

“We do, and will continue to, support his business."

While it still feels like a slap in the face to Elliott, he maintained that the company would survive despite lack of rentals from the town.

He noted they have booked equipment for these dates for other venues.

"All of our events are knocked out of the park. I take pride in it, this is our livelihood, I pride myself on the end result. My job is to have a smile on that customers face when all the gear is packed back into the trailer and we’re leaving.”

Elliot said he feels bad for other small businesses and wondered, "Who would want to open a small business in Grand Falls if they operate like this?"

Councillor Tom Pinsent noted that the purchased bouncy castles will, “just be for our town events and not a free for all to compete with someone else.”

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