CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Small businesses in Southwest Florida have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are struggling to rebound, but a local dance studio owner wanted to do what she could to help; She created a scavenger hunt incorporating local shops so we can all show we're thankful for small business.
Southwest Florida's small businesses are part of what makes it so special.
"Now that they're open and able to operate, it's important that we go and show them our support and make sure they're around for years to come," Bridey Kearns, who owns Studio 8 Dance in Cape Coral, said.
Kearns said she wanted to help other small businesses, like Escape the Cape, survive the pandemic.
"My husband and I just took over ownership of the escape room in February. We're the owners, and we had everything up and going for a few weeks, only to be shut down for about six to eight weeks. So, a great time to open up a business. It was very unsettling," Marie Goodman, the owner of Escape the Cape, said.
The owner of Ice Sssscreamin’ in Cape Coral said online ordering apps helped his business survive.
"Thank God we had those. It really helped us. If we didn’t, we would have been horribly, in the drain,” Hadi Al Rayes said.
Kearns told Fox 4 she's always looking for ways to keep her dance kids engaged in our community, and thought of doing a citywide scavenger hunt.
When she stopped into Zirilli's Chilly Treats a few weeks ago, she said she had an inspiring conversation.
"The owner there was talking about how he had reopened, but it was hard because a lot of people hadn't really come back in since COVID. I don't know how it clicked, and I was just like, 'You know what? What if for the scavenger hunt I was planning, people went to businesses that had reopened?" Kearns said.
She created a "Thankful for Small Business" event on Facebook. Thirteen different businesses are participating.
"People can visit any of them. When they go to check out at all the registers, the businesses participating have these playing cards that say 'Thankful for Small Business Scavenger Hunt,'" Kearns said. "Those businesses will then take one of their playing cards and give them to them with their receipt."
Once you collect five cards, you can bring them over to Studio 8 Dance for a prize.
"Plus, their name gets entered into a drawing. The drawing is for a grand prize, which is a new Samsung Galaxy Tablet," Kearns told Fox 4.
Some businesses are also offering discounts to scavenger hunters. Escape the Cape is offering 25% off your escape room experience.
"The minute I heard about it, I was like 'sign me up,'" Goodman said.
"I was super fortunate to have that base of people that were always there, because we're a tight knit family. And if I could use them, who were children, to share, let's make it a game, that I can help other businesses in the community, if you don't utilize them now, they won't be there when you need them," Kearns said.
It's a gesture Goodman said means more than just keeping their doors open.
"I think when communities come together like this and are willing to support each other, it just shows that there's strength. There's strength out there for everybody," she said.
The participating businesses are:
- Gator Mike's
- Tropical Breeze Family Fun Center
- Paradise Deli (offering a Special kids dessert)
- Escape the Cape (offering 25% discount)
- Ice Sssscreamin
- Wild About Popcorn (offering free kids bag)
- The Paint Escape
- Lehne Burger
- Zirilli's Chilly Treats
- Buff City Soap
- Ice Cream Club of Cape Coral
You can turn in your five scavenger hunt cards to Studio 8 Dance by Wednesday, November 25th, at 7:30 PM for your prize and a chance to win the tablet. For every three cards you bring in after the initial five, you get another entry into the drawing. The drawing for the tablet will happen on Thanksgiving Day.