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Bradford couple jumps into new inflatable party rental business

Bradford husband and wife team Grace and Leo Nicolaou recently started their own party rental business
Husband and wife team Leo and Grace are the faces behind Premier Inflatables, Bradford’s newest party rental business

While there may not be a lot of big parties and gatherings happening during the pandemic, there are still ways to make birthdays and celebrations memorable and fun, especially for children.

That was the rationale behind Bradford couple Grace and Leo Nicolaou's decision to open up their own party rental business, Premier Inflatables, this past fall. 

Grace remembers renting a bouncy castle for their daughter's first birthday years ago, thinking it might be a good idea to invest in one of their own to use year-round, and possibly rent out to other families as a side business. But the idea never took off...until a few years ago, when an opportunity presented itself to purchase inflatable bouncy castles off of another local party rental company selling off some of their inventory. 

"We said, 'Well, gee, maybe this is a sign'," said Grace. 

Shortly after the couple purchased the inflatables, the pandemic hit, which Grace says gave them a window of opportunity to rent their products to families stuck at home with nothing to do. 

"When COVID hit, I think people were excited about making things normal," said Leo, noting the idea for the inflatable party rental business was a "golden opportunity" to do just that.

"Kids couldn't go anywhere, Wonderland was closed, you couldn't even go to the beach," Grace remembers about that first summer of the pandemic. 

In addition to bouncy castles, the company offers games, pop-corn machines, cotton candy machines, indoor movie screens, and a 'Punch a Prize' activity, an alternative to loot bags and pinatas. 

Grace says she and Leo are always trying to come up with creative new additions to their services, while adding a touch of customization to them all. The couple has been working with another small business to create personalized decor for some of the party rentals. 

Most of the company's clientele comes from the area including Bradford, Innisfil, Keswick, and Sutton. 

The couple says they have received positive feedback from clients so far, appreciative to have some form of entertainment to bring to their children during lockdowns and restrictions. 

"It brings me to tears because it's (a party rental) something so simple, but it's so great," said Grace. "We are here to make sure everyone is happy, and we are here to put a smile on kids' faces."

The biggest challenge of opening a business during a pandemic so far is getting their name out there. 

"Starting from scratch is always the hardest because you're trying to build trust," said Leo, noting he and Grace worked hard on their business plan before officially opening, consulting with public health on policies to ensure safety and comfort for their clients. 

Grace is a Bradford native, and Leo is from Scarborough. The pair first met at The Shoe Company in Newmarket 20 years ago, where Leo was working at the time. 

Grace's brother also worked at the store, which is how their paths crossed.

"And I like shoes," laughed Grace. 

The pair hit it off immediately and went on to marry in 2005. They have two children together, aged 11 and 14. 

While Premier Inflatables is not the couple's full-time gig, they hope that maybe one day it will be. Both are happy to be part of the Bradford community and look forward to continuing to expand their business and make new connections in the industry. 

For now, Leo is happy working as a custodian at the local school board, while Grace runs her own commercial cleaning company. The husband and wife team both enjoy working the inflatables business on the side.

To learn more about Premier Inflatables, visit their website here

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Natasha Philpott

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is the Editor for BradfordToday and InnisfilToday. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats.
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