Over the past year, you may have felt trapped at home. You weren’t the only one. Trapped Toledo, an interactive theater specializing in Escape Rooms, despite COVID-19’s impact, is returning to the “new normal.”
The Pandemic Hits
When Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued the “stay at home” order, many businesses were forced to shut their doors. Trapped Toledo was one of those businesses. But the shutdown was a double-edged sword— Trapped Columbus, an escape room affiliate, was already suffering from not enough business, even before the pandemic hit.
“Our employees are there when business is generated, it’s not the other way around,” says Kimmer Callahan, chief marketing officer of Trapped Toledo and Trapped Columbus. “So when guests weren’t booking events, we simply couldn’t pay our employees without generating money – it (the lack of business before the pandemic) would’ve put us out of business,” he adds.
Trapped Columbus was forced to close. “[The award of PPP funds] were all based on employee hours during the preceding period,” Kimmer explains. “In 2020, we sold the location to a business that eventually went bankrupt. Trapped Columbus was not able to pay the employees, forcing layoffs. Also, with no employees logging hours, we couldn’t secure any government funds.”
Escaping the Closures
For four months in Spring and early Summer 2020, Trapped Toledo remained closed. Then, towards the end of July 2020, the location was able to cautiously open its doors even as COVID-19 remained prominent and during what was traditionally Trapped Toledo’s “slow season.”
“About 70% of our revenue comes between September and March and with the pandemic, scheduled events were forced to be pushed back because of all the uncertainty of our guests,” says Kimmer. Since then, the Toledo business has only been operating Thursdays – Sundays, booking five to 12 shows/escapes per day between their three escape rooms. If guests feel uneasy about the event, Trapped Toledo allows (up to 48 hours before the scheduled time) the option to reschedule.
Trapped Toledo retained most of their dedicated staff so the shows could go on. “We’re fortunate because we have a flexible business and we have flexible employees who like working here,” says Kimmer. “A lot of them actually want to be actors or entertainers so their commitment is personal and goes a long way,” he adds. Three managers have been with the company for nearly three years, which Kimmer says was a huge boost to retaining their employees, and ultimately, keeping Trapped Toledo going.
2410 Key St. 567-316-7028. trappedtoledo.com