‘My only hope’: Owner of Ottawa’s Comic Book Shoppe crowdfunding to conserve service – Ottawa

The owner of a popular trio of comics and anime shops in Ottawa states he remains in threat of needing to close them down due to the fact that of individual monetary problems that grew out of control over the previous 3 years.

He and his personnel are now crowdfunding to conserve the 31- year-old service, having actually introduced a GoFundMe project online on Thursday.

“There’s no easier way to put it. We’re down to what might be the final hour,”Stevens Ethier composed in a long appeal for assistance on the fundraising event’s website.

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Ethier very first opened the Comic Book Shoppe on Clyde Avenue in Nepean in1987 He’s considering that broadened into 2 more places; the 2nd Comic Book Shoppe lies on Bank Street downtown and the Anime Stop, a sibling shop he opened in 2006, lies beside the west-end shoppe.

The 3 shops are popular locations in the area for comics, graphic books, parlor game and a wide range of comic book-related product, a few of it unusual and “high-grade,” according to one supervisor.

The regional business owner confessed that he fell back on submitting his income tax return over the last few years and likewise “made mistakes” with some service choices, stating in an interview on Thursday that he accepts obligation for the scenario he remains in now.

“I kind of took my eye off the ball,” he stated at the Comic Book Shoppe’s Bank Street place.

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But at the exact same time, he stated an altercation with Canada Revenue Agency triggered “a series of cascading financial woes” that harmed his capability to recuperate.

Ethier stated his personnel recommended he attempt crowdfunding back in November, however he didn’t like the concept. He’s just doing it now due to the fact that he’s tired all other choices and it’s his “only hope” to keep business afloat.

“I find it difficult asking for money,” he stated. “But I don’t know what else to do.”

A ‘downward spiral’

Ethier declares the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) informed him in 2015 that he owed the federal government $230,000 in back taxes– a figure that set off a “downward spiral,” he stated.

The long time business owner firmly insists that figure is 3 times bigger than any quantity he’s ever made in a single year.

“They began demanding payments, and freezing my business spending accounts,” he composed on the GoFundMe page. “Then, on top of that, I got slammed with fees, interest, and penalties for an amount that I didn’t have, and shouldn’t have owed.”

Banks and home mortgage brokers consequently “dropped [him] like a hot potato,” Ethier declared.

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The quantity he owed to the federal government was minimized substantially after the CRA performed an audit, however the audit dragged out for more than a year and a half, he stated– to the point where he composed a letter to his member of Parliament to stimulate some action.

In action to an ask for remark, a representative for the CRA stated the company might not talk about particular cases for privacy factors. The representative stated the time it requires to finish an audit depends “on a number of factors,” consisting of the scope of the evaluation, the state of a taxpayer’s records, possible hold-ups due to missing out on records and assessment with other tax experts at the CRA.

Ethier stated he wasn’t able to reinvest earnings back into the shops for a number of years due to the fact that he needed to move big portions of earnings to the CRA, leaving him with little money to pay his providers.

“Fewer suppliers meant less product. Less product meant less money made,” he composed online.

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Ethier stated he continued to “fall deeper and deeper in the hole,” reaching to squander his RRSPs and technique predatory loan providers.

The regional business owner claims he’s considering that captured up on his income tax return however requires the $150,000 the GoFundMe project looks for to raise in order to pay for the staying earnings tax he owes and other arrearages, and keep business “viable.”

“My suppliers are close to cutting me off. My rent payments are past due,” he composed. “I’ve mortgaged my home to keep The Comic Book Shoppe and The Anime Stop running, and it looks like it still wasn’t enough.”

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In the shops, Ethier stated he’s “trimmed the fat in dozens of places,” consisting of cutting personnel. There are roughly 20-25 staff members in between the 3 shops.

He needed to minimize some tasks from full-time to part-time and after that didn’t change 2 part-time personnel that left in 2018, he stated.

“It would be a bit of an understatement to say it’s a scary situation to be — not just because it’s my job, but also because it’s something that I’m passionate about,” stated Aaron Kurtzer, who handles the Comic Book Shoppe’s Nepean place.

“I’ve been buying this nerdy merchandise for over a decade from this store, before I ever worked here.”