Braden McGraw and his wife, Sandra McGraw, will now have to find another way to help ease the weight of their college loans.
The City Council’s decision to amend Section 247 of Chapter 12, Article X, of the city’s code was made — putting Braden McGraw’s gameday toilet paper business on hold and off Auburn’s downtown sidewalks.
McGraw and McGraw, Braden McGraw’s first small business, became a registered competitor last week after he struck a deal with Trey Johnson, owner of J&M Bookstore, on College Street. Braden McGraw said the business allowed him to set up a stand, selling rolling toilet paper after triumphant home games.
Braden McGraw said his team sold about a hundred rolls at the first game, and with that opening night, they considered the game a success.
In Braden McGraw’s presentation to the Council, he expressed his concern with the amendment, saying he had followed through with all of the required steps to sell his product downtown and that his permit was then quickly taken back.
“I commend him for wanting to have a business and pursuing his dream,” said Ward 3 Council Member Beth Witten. “However, all of the businesses downtown have worked very hard to pay rent — high rent — and payroll and taxes. They do that 365 days a year, not just seven or eight business days of the year.”
Witten said the Council made the decision in consideration of the downtown business owners, and she felt the decision was fair.
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“[The downtown merchants] aren’t close-minded to saying, ‘We never want you downtown,’ but there are special times when that is allowed,” Witten said. “These events put everyone on the same playing field.”
Some of the events Witten said that would be held and welcoming to small-business owners were large community gatherings and festivals like SummerNight.
Mayor Bill Ham agreed and said there are other ways to start small businesses, and he encourages young entrepreneurs to do so.
The idea originated from the day of the eclipse. Braden McGraw said he thought about the sudden need for solar eclipse glasses and because of the short-lived necessity, he couldn’t tap into that specific market.
After thinking about goods needed at just the right moment, Braden and Sandra McGraw decided their business would be in rolling.
“I respect [the Council’s] decision, but I think that it should have been up to the individual businesses to decide if they want street sales,” Braden McGraw said. “They already had the ability to deny it, but they have taken away the ability for them to allow it.”
Braden McGraw, being the only sidewalk salesman present, said he feels that not many people know of this happening and once more small-business owners want to find a place downtown, the decision will receive backlash.
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