Virgil resident Taylor Lawson doesn’t understand why the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake didn’t use his sign company for its ShopNOTL campaign.
“It just seems like in the last couple of years there’s no point in trying to operate a small business in this town,” Lawson said in an interview on Tuesday.
Lawson Signcrafters is the only signage company in the municipality, he said. The company is listed on the town’s own local business registrar intended to promote NOTL businesses.
Earlier this year the town launched its ShopNOTL campaign. It put up signs around town and even printed stickers to put in goodie bags for registered businesses.
Lawson received an email informing him about the campaign and sent one back asking the town what types of services were needed.
He never got a response.
“Somebody shows up at my house a couple weeks later with, like, a little goodie bag with printed stickers, which I could have done. Garment bags, like, that were branded, which we can also do,” Lawson said.
“And then I go into a grocery store and I see all of these banners on telephone poles which were something that we could have done as well,” he said.
Lawson then sent an email, dated Feb. 10, in which he asked the town what company it used and if the project was ever put out for tender.
Again, he said, he never heard back.
The town’s list of closed tenders does not show the project was ever tendered.
Town staff had not replied to a question from The Lake Report by deadline this week about why a tender was never issued.
Lawson later sent an email, on Feb. 17, asking for an apology.
“The Town of NOTL owes my family an apology for not using the only sign shop in town to print the banners and stickers that are now all over the place. We could have even done the installation,” his email to the town reads.
“So, as we can barely feed ourselves and survive, your corporation had the stickers and banners produced out of the L0S postal code. Thanks for nothing.”
Lawson, once again, never received a reply.
He said the pandemic hit his business very hard.
“It set us back about $25,000,” Lawson said.
He needed to borrow money in order to stay afloat.
“That job right there would have actually alleviated all that,” said Lawson.
The experience has left him so crestfallen that he thinks his days in NOTL are numbered.
“Our family is looking to leave,” he said.
Lawson said he will probably leave Canada entirely and move to the United States.
A town official said the municipality was working on responses to inquiries from The Lake Report but had not answered any questions by our publication deadline.
Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report