Giant Adirondack chairs to adorn hamlets around North Grenville this summer
KEMPTVILLE, ONT. -- A new initiative in North Grenville is hoping to revive tourism across the municipality, as one company's pandemic success is a gigantic factor in the plan.
The Best Adirondack Chair Company in Kemptville has seen sales surge during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Before COVID hit, we had five full-time employees and now we have over 20," said President Francois Bruneau.
"Last year, we sold over 5,000 chairs all over the world, as far away as New Zealand, Japan, all over Europe," Bruneau said. "Our business more than doubled."
The company has been located in Kemptville for eight years, and it's been building high quality, hand-crafted furniture for over 65 years.
"We wanted to give back to the community," said Bruneau's wife Dina Elatawi, who is also vice-president of sales for the company.
"We were talking about how we can help bring back life into North Grenville and I asked him, what do you think? What's big? How can we get heads to turn, get people to come visit?" Elatawi said. "Of course, he said let's build a chair!"
Named the Royal Rideau Chair, the design is exclusive to the area. A regular sized chair is about two-and-a-half feet tall. The big ones are over eight feet. The cost of the giant chair is $5,000.
The Municipality of North Grenville recently released a tourism strategy for 2021, and the two ideas merged together.
"I spoke to the BIA of Kemptville and we brought in the Municipality of North Grenville, who loved the idea," said Elatawi. "They thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to get awareness back into the community, to draw attention to Kemptville, North Grenville, and help those businesses that are really having a difficult time right now."
The chairs will be displayed around the municipality, including three in small hamlets near businesses in Bishop's Mills and Oxford Mills.
Another one will sit in front of Paul's Bistro in Oxford Station, a business hurting due to the pandemic.
"We just started to get our business back up again and get shut down again," said owner Paul Castonguay.
"Not only are we getting frustrated but customers are getting frustrated as well," he said.
This chair will be sponsored by Kemptville Fencing and Decks, another company who's seen pandemic success.
"It's been a good year," said owner Michelle Ansell. "We are booked solid, so it is a good thing and we're very blessed and we're very fortunate."
"We're happy to give back. We live out in Oxford Station as well, so we chose out here to try and bring people out," Ansell said. "It's a beautiful place to come."
"It's going to be a great attraction I think," said Castonguay.
The chairs will be painted to represent the community they will adorn, and QR Codes will be added with maps of the area and other interests.
North Grenville Mayor Nancy Peckford is excited about the initiative.
"It will bring people to the corners of the municipality that they don't always even know about and they may not have visited, so what a way to discover what is already a wonderful community," Peckford said.
"We know that local tourism is going to be a really hot market, as long as people are confident that they can do it safely," Peckford added. "This is why being outdoors in a giant chair that's locally made. of course, we couldn't ask for better and we're so thankful and pleased that we can work together to really highlight this effort."
The Kemptville Chamber of Commerce and the municipality sponsored a chair each, while the company sponsored the other two.
Employees even donated their time on weekends with the builds.
"They took quite a few hours and days to build five of these chairs," added Bruneau.
"They are all really supportive," said Elatawi. "They are really glad to be a part of it because they know that this is going to be really important and that what they've done is going to mean something, and they can go home and tell their friend and family that, 'Yeah I was part of this, i built that chair,'" Elatawi said.
"It really symbolizes hope. Don't give up," Elatawi added. "There are people out there who want to help and life will go on, and these chairs will be a reminder that we are strong, together as Canadians."
"Don't give up, have hope. Because if we don't have hope, we don't have anything," she added.
The official launch day is set for May 21 at Rotary Park in downtown Kemptville, where one of the chairs will also be located.