Amidst all this chaos, I wanted to be honest and explain exactly why we are closing our doors during this time, what this means for our business, and what Calvin and I will be up to while Next-Gen Escape is closed.
Next-Gen Escape is a small business; plain and simple. Our goal is to not just be a brand, but also genuine and real people. We don’t try to hide behind our business name to seem more corporate and franchised. We are just two people with a passion for games and creating cool experiences. Because of this, we show our faces, we show our employee Zak, and we try to show what it takes to make a business from scratch; including all the ups and the downs– And this virus is most definitely a ‘down’.
If you have ever met Calvin and I, you have probably heard me talk about how he graduated Fresno State with a degree in Entrepreneurship and I will laugh and say I have my degree in Biology; of all things. While I love escape rooms and being creative, I still have my passion for biology. So, when we heard of this virus going around in February, I was afraid that we would eventually be faced with the choice of closing down or staying open. I have been reading the news religiously, and trying to see each media post through the lens of a critical thinker, like my degree has taught me to do. In this mass hysteria, it is hard to distinguish between the facts and the panic, but I trust that the CDC, our state, and the City of Fresno has the most qualified people working on this issue. So, when they recommended a 15 day pause, Calvin and I followed suit.
Now believe me, we CLEANED our rooms after every play through. The more we began to hear about the disease, the more we cleaned. Before the virus, we cleaned the rooms about once a week; Sweeping, mopping, replacing paper items and wiping down props with clorox wipes. It was as needed. Then, we started cleaning every night. By the time the virus had its first case in California, we were deep cleaning after every session, making sure to use antiviral products. In addition, all of our rooms have always been (and always will be) private sessions. This means that anyone who comes to play an escape room at our business will only play with the group they bring, regardless of the size of the group.
Unfortunately, I didn’t think this was enough for the safety of our guests and our staff (or our zak, because he is the only other staff besides Calvin and I). Even if just one person became sick with this virus because of Next-Gen Escape, that is simply too many and not a risk we would be willing to take.
So, we made the decision to close down the business. The earliest we will reopen is on April 7th. Unfortunately, we are already thinking of extending that date; only time will tell what is necessary.
We have gotten calls and emails during the shelter-at-home order, inquiring if we are open. Sadly, we are not an essential business; even if we do clean after every session and only allow 4-5 people at a time. Even if we could get around the order based on technicalities of the nature of our business or how many times we clean the rooms in between sessions, I wouldn’t want to. From a moral perspective, this is the right decision to make for the safety of our employees and our customers.
I just hope the business can last long enough until this thing blows over. We have looked into getting help from the Small Business Association if this fifteen day pause lasts longer than expected, but hopefully it does not come to that.
If you would like to support us during this tough time, we are selling gift cards at a discounted price, so that you may finally have some fun when we reopen. We are also hoping that our business clients will increase when all this blows over, as there may be more “welcome back to the office!” celebrations.
In the meantime, Calvin and I will be planning ideas for the next room, listening to the new Childish Gambino Album, catching up on hobbies, and watching Girls on HBO (which is a really great show, if you’re looking for something to binge watch to pass the time).
On a completely unrelated note, Calvin did a full Britney Spears and shaved all his hair off with the explanation that “this is the only time to shave my head ever, and it is the most economic decision [because he failed to get a haircut before the shut-down]”, and I have successfully sewed my own pair of pants. My point is, if the world really does end, Calvin can cut hair and I can make clothes for whatever apocalypse faction we join.
Jokes aside, I think it is important for us all to remember to take time for ourselves and reach out to friends and family to make sure they are okay. Let’s all come together as a community and get through this together.
Luckily, a lot of businesses are doing some cool things during the shut-down. I know that Full Circle Brewery is doing free beer delivery and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory has something similar. Which is good, because I could use a delicious Caramel Apple to stress eat, and there’s nothing like a cold beer after a long day of quarantining.
If you have any questions about our decision to close down, would like to inquire about our rooms, or would simply like to talk about the shows you have been binge watching while staying at home; you can reach us at (559) – 840 – 1579.
See you all when things are less crazy,