LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s a scenario playing out all across the nation.
Ana Gillespie chose to close her business, the Lakeland Escape Room in mid March to do her part and stop the spread of COVID-19.
“The nonessential businesses are the ones that truly saw a stop in income and sales immediately,” said Gillespie.
Gillespie said she is still paying her staff during the closure. She’s been able to pay half of the rent and cut other expenses. She’s also applied for help from the government through the small business loan.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep on staying positive. We’re trying to sell gift cards and we’ve had people support us through the gift card program. For Easter we did Easter boxes of fun and had several customers purchase those. So we’re doing what we can but it’s it’s definitely been a huge difference,” said Gillespie.
The Lakeland Chamber is working to support businesses during the troubling time, offering support, seminars and resources.
“We’ve actually been making what we’re calling wellness check phone calls to all 1,400 of our business investors. We’ve also been doing a lot of shifting in terms of the programming we’ve been offering. We’ve been doing a lot of virtual zoom trainings. We do one pretty much everyday that we theme right now,” Said Lakeland Chamber President and CEO Cory Skeates.
Skeates said they are even helping promote gift card sales for non members to try to help keep them afloat.
“We’re hearing from the US chamber that one in for small businesses are in danger of closing. Depending on how much longer this goes,” Skeates said.
The City of Lakeland is holding a carryout bingo that encourages residents to eat at various restaurants, however for non-essential businesses like the Escape Room, they don’t have the option to stay open.
Gillespie and other businesses owners are asking for the continued support from the community through purchasing gift cards and other promotions, as well as sharing the information on social media.
“I do believe we will get through it we just have to do what’s right right now and hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later that we open,” Gillespie said.
For more information about the Lakeland Escape Room click here.
- Target Black Friday deals: Final week of discounts released
- Hampton Roads native looking toward Tokyo Olympics; focusing on mental game during pandemic
- Public health expert: ‘Prudent decision’ to postpone Tampa’s Gasparilla festivities during coronavirus surge
- Search underway for missing endangered 77-year-old Sebring woman
- Former Tampa Bay bank robber meets detective after she changed his life, 28 years later