Young homeowner opens Alvinston AirBnB
Chris Wygergangs and her son Brendan Wygergangs, who opened Alvinston’s first AirBnB last month. Melissa Schilz/Postmedia Network
A young entrepreneur is hoping to bring more traffic through Alvinston; Brendan Wygergangs thought the best way to do this was to offer up a place for visitors to stay.
He bought his first home when he was just 19 years old, fixing up the three-bedroom abode with the help of his parents and girlfriend. He took some time contemplating between short term and long term rentals, and his mother Chris put a post on Facebook to see what locals thought.
“Are people coming in for weddings, for vacations, anything like that,” Wygergangs said.
Within an hour they had a message from someone looking for a short-term rental for family members coming to town. With the closest places to stay in Strathroy, Petrolia, Sarnia or even London, he knew right away this would be a great way to get the town and its local businesses some exposure.
“It was spur of the moment, just go for it and try it,” he said.
Wygergangs said council members had said they were putting up their guests in London when they came for meetings or other events. But with hidden gems like Munro Honey, A.W Campbell Park, Armors Ale House and 98 geocaches in the area, Alvinston has plenty to offer, and the small town could use the economic boost.
“This way they can stay local, eat at the local restaurants…so the vision started,” Wygergangs mother said. “People don’t have to worry about parking their car or finding a way to get back to where they’re staying…it’s central and that helps.”
Since opening his AirBnB at the beginning of June, Wygergangs has had bookings come in from Guelph, Oregon, Toronto and Port Perry. Some of their upcoming guests are traveling all the way from Washington State and even Holland.
And what they offer is a more personal and cozy experience than what you might find at a hotel - guests are left homemade soaps in the bathroom and essential oil diffusers beside their beds for a little bit of luxury. They also have information pamphlets around the house and local restaurant menus so visitors can enjoy some local food and drinks.
“Locals know all of the weird little spots that no one else does,” Wygergangs said.
The home is also decorated with homemade pieces made by local artists that are up for sale, supporting those small businesses and allowing them to change up their décor every so often.
Wygergangs said it’s still new to him, but so far experiences with guests have been positive. He hopes to keep it going for as long as he can, and with solid bookings coming through so far, it looks like they won’t have trouble keeping the house full and getting new people into town.
“We’re just surprised at the bookings we’re getting,” Wygergangs said.
Alvinston Council announced a tax hike earlier this year, and the family knows how much that hurt the councillors to have to do it, but with a lack of money coming in, it was necessary. With a new drugstore in town, as well as some plans for a new apartment complex, they hope to be a part of the change coming to the rural community.
“Alvinston has changed a lot over the past few years,” Wygergangs said. “We’re hoping this will help too.”