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Loans not good enough: Rixon


July 3, 2020
By Kim Rixon

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Kim Rixon, owner of Muskoka Party Rentals, sent the note below illustrating the devastating impact of the coronavirus lockdown on her business and pointing out that simply offering small businesses more debt will not help. Ottawa and the province have made interest-free and partially forgivable loans available through the Canadian Emergency Business Account, but no direct grants.
I am the sole proprietor of an event and tent rental business for the last 16 years in Muskoka.  I started my business in December of 2003 and have gone through many downturns in the economy but due to the shutdowns for COVID-19 the doors to my business have been closed since March.
While other businesses are reopening and hoping to salvage a summer season from 2020, I am still sitting with doors closed as a direct effect of cancellations of weddings and events from March until August and beyond.  Since March of 2020 we have lost 90% of our bookings for 2020 and will be unable to recover the earnings we would have earned for weddings and events this season.
As a seasonal business, we rely heavily on our late spring, summer and fall bookings to carry us through the winter and into the next year.
Normally we generate over $600,000 per year but this year we will be very fortunate to generate $100,000 if we are able to resume business in July which in today’s climate seems highly unlikely.
In a normal year we take deposits over the fall and winter for events which are going to happen the following spring, summer and fall.  Because the majority of our events have been moved to 2021 and we have already collected these deposits and we will not be receiving many deposits over the fall and winter of 2020/21.  Not only will we not be receiving deposits but most of the dates are taken for 2021 thus dramatically limiting the number of new events we can accept.
Seasonally we employ 18-20 seasonal staff, comprised of university students who spend summers in our area as well as year round residents who rely on us for their summer employment .  In 2019 we paid over $300,000.00 in wages to our staff, this year we have been unable to rehire any of our staff as we do not have work for them to do due to cancellations of all our large events.
The event, wedding and tent industry has been extremely heavily hit and will not recover as easily or quickly as many industries as we rely on large groups of people not individuals to maintain our businesses.
My business cannot afford another loan to pay off, we need genuine monetary assistance in the forms of grants or bailouts given to car companies in the past.  We are hard working, proud people who want to help your daughters and sons have their dream weddings, for you to have a surprise party for that special someone, for you and your friends to go to concerts, trade shows, conferences, festivals, and a whole myriad of events that I’m sure you haven’t even thought our industry deals with.
We are the event planners, tent installers, conference workers who rely on large gatherings for our livelihoods and this joy has been stripped from us, forcing us to sit and wait while our businesses slowly sink into oblivion.  We deserve more respect than this.