by Rachel Everett-Fry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
On August 15, JL Woodworking announced that they would be closing their doors because of a Compliance Order served by the Municipality. After overwhelming community response, that is no longer the case. Custom woodworkers, particularly known for their beautiful children’s toys, JL Woodworking has been in business for five years. They moved to their current location at 304 Prescott Street, a unit in the former North Grenville High School building, just under a year ago. Prior to this, owners Melissa McCarthy and Jordan Loshinsky had been operating the business from their garage.
Preparing this new rental unit to accommodate their business was a massive financial and time investment: accessing adequate electricity and setting up the massive woodworking equipment was no small feat.
Like any other small business, JL Woodworking has struggled over the past year. They stated, “We gave every piece of blood, sweat, and tears (and frankly any of our savings) we have into this business, and we are finally holding up the white flag.”
It seems that the unit from which JL Woodworking has been operating is in need of some major work in order to meet municipal codes. For the landlord, however, these costs will outweigh any income in the form of rent. JL Woodworking stated that they feel, “The municipality of North Grenville is correct in wanting to enforce these codes. They do keep us safe from fires and other injuries.” Nonetheless, they were heartbroken.
In typical North Grenville fashion, the community stepped up to the plate. Residents emailed the Municipality to draw more attention to how this small business was crumbling due to no fault of their own.
Deputy Mayor Jim McManaman, Director of Planning and Development Amy Martin, and Chief Administrative Officer Gary Dyke acted quickly in order to allow JL Woodworking to continue its operations. Mayor Nancy Peckford explained that, “Council is not informed when Compliance Orders are issued, so we often find out only if the businesses affected, or property owner, directly reaches out, or we see it in the media, or from another member of the public.”
Owner and woodworker Jordan said, “I was shocked by the community response. Originally, we were just posting about our demise. We did not expect anything to change, or for anyone to do anything. But it seems that so many people appreciate the mom and pop small businesses.”
As things stand, the landlord is still under an order to comply with the building code, but there is no order to evict JL Woodworking, the tenant. Mayor Peckford stated, “No one wants the business in question to suffer because of a property owner that has some challenges.”
There is no guarantee about what the future will hold for JL Woodworking, but at least they have some time. Jordan said, “Hopefully we can find middle ground between all three of us parties that will allow me to continue operating.” At the very least, the community outpouring has proven, once more, that North Grenville residents care about small businesses, support one another, and that we are lucky to have such a responsive council.