FLORENCE, Ky. — The idea of being trapped in a room with a group of people might make one pause in the midst of a pandemic, but one local escape room is getting creative.
"We thought to keep a heartbeat on the business was to come up with a fun way to entertain people while they are at home," said Jennifer Maki, co-owner of Sherlock's Escape Rooms, which in March had to shut the doors at its two locations in Cold Spring and Florence, Kentucky, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Now, even as some businesses are slowly reopening across Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, Maki said she's found a way to reach her would-be customers at home, through an online, virtual escape room.
"So, you're not in the room, but you are at home," Maki said. "You can be anywhere in the world playing with friends and family, and there is a live actor in one of our escape rooms here. The players at home will interact with the actor that's in the room."
"It was a scary time not getting the money in but still having to pay the bills, and so we struggled to figure out a way to still entertain customers while they are at home," Maki said.
Escape rooms began popping up around the Tri-State over the last several years. The concept is that a group of participants is closed in a room and must problem-solve to find their escape within a certain time frame, usually an hour or so.
"You can have friends and family, coworkers, team-building events. You get together, and you are trying to solve a mystery," she said.
Cincinnati resident Cara Harrison tried out one of the virtual escape rooms with some of her friends. She said it offered a variety to the more typical virtual ways of connecting with friends as COVID-19 continues to require social distancing.
"I've done Zoom trivia nights and other Zoom party themed type things," she told WCPO. "This was definitely something fun and different."
For Maki, hosting the online escape rooms helped ease the sense of loneliness she said came when they had to close their doors: "to be able to know that people want to come back and that they like us and that they are excited that we are still here," she said.
Anyone interested in signing up for a virtual escape room can visit Sherlock's Escape Rooms' website.