Great Escape in Waxahachie struggling to stay open
Open since November 2019, the Great Escape in Waxahachie is in danger of closing their doors due to slow business, if they do not increase sales before the end of October.
After closing their doors at the start of the pandemic, the escape room reopened to the public in July, having been closed for about four months.
The escape room is owned by 15-year old Bella Renfroe and managed by her mother Jackie Coffey.
“Like any other business has had to go through with any business with the coronavirus. Our landlord, we opened back up, and we didn’t have to pay while we were closed, but as soon as we opened up, they were like, 'Hey, y’all are going to owe this or we’re going to lock you out,'” shared Coffey.
According to Coffey, the business has been locked out once, as soon as they opened their doors.
“We were just hoping to reach out and to get some community support, and if anyone could help keep us open and keep it going. It’s slowly getting busier but not enough to support what the landlord is wanting us to have by the end of this month,” said Coffey.
The PPP small business loan was unavailable to this business because the escape room had not completed a year of being open.
They’ve had to layoff staff, and they are not currently taking salary from the commission made.
Although Coffey helps with guidance, the vision of the Great Escape is completely Renfroe’s.
“I let her run it. She doesn’t do the payroll, but she communicates with the accountant on everyone’s hours. She cuts when anyone is going over hours. She trains staff. She does it all,” stated Coffey.
“When I was like 12, we went to one [an escape room] for my birthday, and it was super cool and she’s [Coffey] like an investor and stuff, and she owns a bunch of companies, and so I was like joking and said, ‘We should open one,’ and she was like ‘OK’,” shared Renfroe.
The escape room would celebrate a year open in November if they are able to stay open.
“I love it here, it's just like a fun work environment. Whenever you kind of run an entertainment place, you kind of have fun doing it,” said Renfroe. “They love us. Anybody that I tell that we’re here normally, they’ll come. We’ve had people come from everywhere.”
Before the COVID-19 virus, business was good for the Great Escape, according to Coffey.
“Oh it was phenomenal. It was fantastic. If we had the same amount of business then when the landlord came to us, we’d be fine. Now, everybody’s kind of scared. But I do see us getting busier. I think people are getting tired and they’re wanting to come out and do stuff, but it’s very slow as comparison to what it was, but it’s definitely not enough to keep us opened,” stated Coffey.
At this time, the Great Escape is offering four of their seven rooms for guests to visit and enjoy. From Monday through Thursday, the business is accepting reservations from groups or parties.
The Great Escape is open to the public from Friday to Sunday. Community members can book their reservation online at TheGreatEscapeDFW.com . The pricing is $28 per person.
Additionally, they are taking COVID-19 precautions and sanitizing their rooms before and after every usage.
“Everything is cleaned, everything is sprayed after every game. They have to wear a mask in the building, but when they’re in the game with their own party, they can take their masks off. All the props are sprayed. We have a big sprayer and spray the room,” said Coffey.