Rent Hike Poses New Challenge for Bud’s Records and Kool Things

Jason Setnyk
Rent Hike Poses New Challenge for Bud’s Records and Kool Things
(Photo : Jason Setnyk)

Cornwall, Ontario – Located on 375 Eleventh Street East, Bud’s Records and Kool Things has become a cherished hub in Cornwall for music enthusiasts. However, the recent unexpected doubling of its rent has put the store’s resilience to the test. Since Jason Lavoie and his partner Emily took over in October 2020 following the sudden passing of the founder, Bud O’Byrne, they have poured their hearts into maintaining its legacy.

Jason fondly recalls Bud’s passion: “My friend Bud O’Byrne was very passionate about records, collecting, and music. We reached out to his wife Angie after he passed, and with her blessing, we’ve kept the doors open, reinvesting everything to ensure we’re here to stay.”

Despite their efforts, small businesses like Bud’s Records face an uphill battle in the current economic climate, with rising inflation and competitive pressures. “COVID was a big factor, and it’s tough to stay competitive with rising costs of living and operation,” Jason explains.

In addition to maintaining the store’s unique character through upgrades like a new paint job, AC and heating unit, and record bins, the owners now face a significant rent increase. The combined rent for their store and an additional storage unit, both rented from the same landlord, is set to more than double.

“It was very shocking,” Jason states. “In Ontario, commercial tenants have little protection. Without a fixed-term lease that specifies conditions, landlords can raise the rent significantly, which can be devastating for a small business.”

Jason isn’t seeking sympathy but wants to raise awareness about the challenges small businesses encounter with fluctuating rental costs. “I want to educate other businesses about the risks of month-to-month leases and the importance of having protective clauses in their leases,” he says.

Despite the legality of the rent hike under the Commercial Tenancies Act (CTA), which does not regulate commercial rent increases, Jason hopes for future reforms. “I would like to see the government look at this so small businesses can have some protections to give them stability.”

For Bud’s Records, the rent hike means fewer new records in the shop and potential cutbacks elsewhere. In the meantime, Jason urges change to help bring some predictability to small businesses during uncertain times. The challenge facing Bud’s Records and Kool Things is far from unique, highlighting the fact that similar obstacles are confronting other businesses across the province.

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