Five of the city’s budding entrepreneurs will duke it out tonight in a Dragons’ Den-style finale of the Win Your Space YK contest.
The contest gives five finalists a chance to win a free year of lease space downtown.
The ideas range from baked goods to bike tours and the six-member jury is tasked to pick the winner.
The contest is part of the city’s effort to revitalize the downtown core after findings that the downtown vacancy rate was 7.8 per cent compared to the rest of Yellowknife’s 2.3 per cent.
Let Me Knot
Sarah Kalnay-Watson, a self-professed hopeless romantic, said through the contest she’s been able to work on the financial details and a long-term plan for her wedding and flower business Let Me Knot.
She envisions starting small, with a flower and wedding planning shop, and hopes to eventually grow into a destination wedding company.
Interior designer Kelsey MacDougall also has a long-term vision for her business N60 Interiors, which she has been running out of her home for the past two years.
If she is successful in tonight’s finale, she envisions opening a concept store.
“It’s something that over the past couple of years I’ve seen in other cities and been inspired by,” she said of her idea for a storefront downtown to cater to residential clients. “Having a rotating selection of curated items to give an experience that can’t be recreated online and to still offer my interior services through the space.”
Borealis Bike Tours
David Stephens, owner of Borealis Bike Tours Unlimited, said opening a storefront would boost both his own business and have a ripple effect for retailers and restaurateurs downtown.
“After a tour people are generally hungry so they’ll want to get something to eat, or before the tour they’re getting some last minute personal items they want to stay warm,” he said.
Stephens runs his business out of his home and used to meet his guests at the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre for orientation before it closed in May. Now that the centre is closed, he will need to find a warm, comfortable space to get his guests suited up for a fat bike ride.
The Magic Box
Yellowknifer spoke with finalist Kim MacNearney about her tarot card reading business in June.
If she ends up a winner tonight, MacNearney plans to expand her offerings to crystals, art and other spiritual items in her store, The Magic Box.
Last but definitely not least is entrepreneur and helicopter pilot Seiji Suzuki’s plan to create a Japanese-style additive free bakery called Ja-pain.
He is already running Sushi North downtown and said in a video on the city’s website that if he wins he will bring another Japanese food offering to downtown.
The five finalists were announced July 25 and a winner will be chosen by jury tonight at city hall.
The jury is made up of Yellowknife business people: Hassan Adam, dentist and owner of Adam Dental Clinic, Renée Comeau, president of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, Yanik D’Aigle, RBC branch manager, Sarah Erasmus of Erasmus Apparel, Gillian Lee, partner with Crowe MacKay LLP and Mellisa Mercredi, sourcing specialist at Diavik Diamond Mines.
The total cost of the contest is estimated at $76,000, according to city communications officer Stephanie Vandeputte. The city will contribute $22,500, with the rest contributed by partners and a pending $20,000 grant from the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.