THUNDER BAY -- “We’ve always been passionate about saunas, so we bought one that was on a trailer, and we thought it would be nice to rent it out,” says Leo St-Cyr, co-owner of a new local business, Cedar Sauna and Rentals. He and business partner Ryan Christian founded the company in November 2019.
Despite Thunder Bay’s Finnish heritage, there were no sauna rental companies before St-Cyr and Christian started their small business. The two posted about their services on Facebook and word got around. Now, their rentals are booked a solid three months in advance.
All of their wood-fired saunas are on trailers, so transporting them to clients’ homes is easy. Rentals go from $150 per day to $450 a week, or $1,300 per month.
If you rent by the week or month and you realize you don’t want to give it back, you can get a deal - the rental fee can go towards the purchase of the sauna.
“We actually didn’t set out to sell them, just rent, but people wanted to buy them, or keep their rentals,” St-Cyr explains.
Cedar Sauna and Rentals has two types of saunas; a birdhouse type and a barrel. They are built in their shop on Russel Street and are fully customizable. Made of Western red cedar, it should last well over half a century.
“How could you not be happy smelling this all day? I love it,” says carpenter Rob Norhaugen, gesturing to the neat piles of lumber. “It’s a very rewarding job. When I see a customer happy with my product, it makes my heart sing.”
As a new company, both co-owners have kept their regular jobs, so running their own small business for the first time is a learning experience and also a juggling act. “We jumped into it without knowing anything, learning as we go,” St-Cyr says.
His future plans include a showroom adjacent to the shop where the saunas are built. In the future, Cedar Sauna and Rentals will offer wood-burning hot tubs, tiki bars, and custom-built outhouses for people at camp.