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How You Can Support Ann Arbor Entertainment Venues During the Pandemic

Many local businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19. But not many have been hit harder than our local entertainment centers and venues, like concert houses, music venues, bowling alleys, movie theaters, mini-golf courses, go-kart tracks, arcades and more. These are the type of businesses that are most likely to be shut down during a pandemic—and are usually the last ones to bounce back afterward. 

While entertainment centers are now allowed to open—with strict social distancing measures in place—many are still trying to recover from the devastation 2020 left in its wake. That’s why today, we’re listing a few ways you can support these types of businesses right now. We’ve also included a few specific examples of local businesses that could use your support. Let us know how you plan to support local entertainment businesses this year, in the comments below!  


Visit in-person 

One of the easiest ways to support local entertainment centers and venues is to visit in-person. The majority of entertainment centers are currently open with social distancing and mask rules in place as well as limited capacity and updated cleaning measures. We recommend calling ahead to ensure that they are open before visiting, making reservations when possible and always wearing a mask.  
Keystone Bar & Arcade is a fantastic spot for amazing cocktails, cozy chairs and classic arcade games. They are currently open with limited capacity, mask requirements and reservations on specific days. Visit their Facebook page for more information and updates on daily specials and socially distanced events. 
Bel-Mark Lanes, one of A2’s favorite bowling alleys, is currently open for in-person bowling and dining with a limited capacity. They recommend making an online reservation for a lane before visiting in person! Click here to get started.  
Escape rooms are perfect for social distancing! At Breakout Ann Arbor, all games are private, so you can make a reservation for your family or friends and enjoy some socially distanced fun away from everyone else! You can reserve your room, which includes selections like ‘Heart of a Pirate’ or ‘Chamber of Illusions,’ online. 

Utilize any online or curbside resources 


Photo courtesy of Decode

We believe that some of the best and most creative ideas stem from limited resources. That’s why we’re such huge fans of some of the creative ways local businesses have been able to stay afloat during such a difficult time. We’re talking igloo dining, curbside cocktails, virtual concerts, etc. So when you’re searching for ways to support local businesses while also staying safe, explore some of their more creative ventures like curbside service, online showings and more.  


As Michigan’s top escape game, Decode in Ypsilanti offers some of the most interesting and complex escape rooms in the state. And even though you can’t visit them physically right now, Decode is still offering some fun escape experiences for you to enjoy around town. The newest is a Drive-In Spectacular! We don’t know much about this escape adventure yet because Decode doesn’t want to spoil all the surprises, but you can follow them on Facebook for a sneak peek before you go. 
While it’s hard to go to the physical movie theater right now, The Michigan Theater and State Theatre are hosting virtual screenings of films every week—from award-winning documentaries to classic ‘90s family films. A portion of the proceeds goes towards supporting the Michigan Theater Foundation. You can find the full list of upcoming showings, here. They are also continuing to offer curbside concessions, so you don’t have to watch your movie without a healthy dose of buttered popcorn, fountain sodas or candy. 
The Ark is Ann Arbor‘s destination for live music and has been since it was founded in 1965 by four area churches. During the pandemic, they’ve cancelled all live shows and events and are only offering livestream events through the Ark Family Room Series. Click here to see what shows are coming up this month and to purchase your tickets.  
Enjoy some classical music from the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra—online! Every week, the A2SO is offering virtual concerts filmed at the Michigan Theater for you to enjoy from the comfort of home. Click here to see their upcoming shows and to purchase your tickets. 

Purchase gift certificates 

Thanks to technology, there are some practical ways we can support the many small businesses in Ann Arbor even when we have to stay home. One of our favorites, especially when it comes to entertainment venues, is buying gift cards or gift certificates! Now that we’re in the 21st century, buying gift certificates from local businesses is as easy as a few clicks of a mouse. And the best part? You can actually use them later! Just save those certificates for when things finally go back to normal and use them for a fun night out on the town.  

The Zap Zone is a Southeast Michigan favorite for laser tag, glow golf, go-karts, bumper cars, bounce houses, arcade games, bowling, roller skating and more! They are currently open to the public—with masks and social distancing required—but if you’d rather support them from the sidelines, they offer the option to purchase gift certificates online, which you can use for a future visit. 

We can’t think of a better way to spend our time than racing around the track at JD Racing. This adrenaline park is a family pastime, offering fun for racers 7 years old and older. They are currently open for socially distanced fun (you can book some time online) but if you’d rather stay home and wait to hit the track, you can also purchase gift cards online to help support JD Racing in the meantime.  


Donate directly 

Many local businesses and nonprofits are hurting right now. Because of the lack of business and several statewide closures, it’s been hard to rack up enough funds to stay afloat. That’s why several local entertainment venues have set up ways for you to donate online. While you may not get any physical items for your donation, you will get the satisfaction of knowing you helped a local business get back on their feet.  

Pinball Pete’s, a beloved Ann Arbor arcade, set up a GoFundMe account during the holidays to help offset the loss of profits during the pandemic. Anything helps, but anyone who donates over $75 will receive a Pinball Pete’s t-shirt, while supplies last. Click here to donate! 

Kidopolis Studios is a small family business, providing a unique atmosphere that provides entertainment and enrichment to young children’s lives. They recently set up a GoFundMe page, allowing you to donate to them directly to help support them during this difficult time. They will also be using the funds to create new spaces for children to explore. Click here to learn more and donate! 

An intimate 110 seat venue, Kerrytown Concert House is a nonprofit organization focused on community engagement and providing audiences with fine art, from live music to gallery exhibitions. They are currently only offering virtual concerts which you can attend for free! But if you want to support them financially, they are also accepting direct donations on their website. 

Located in ChelseaThe Purple Rose Theatre Company was founded in 1991 by Chelsea native and critically-acclaimed actor, Jeff Daniels. The building that houses the company’s Garage Theatre was once a used car and bus garage owned by Daniels’ grandfather. Now, the facility has developed into one of the best places for theatre production in the state. They aren’t currently hosting any shows, but are accepting online donations to help the show go on! Click here for more information.  


Spread the love on social media 


These days, one of the best free ways to support a local business is to boost their reputation online! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more. Leave glowing reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook and other reviewing websites. And don’t forget to tell your friends and family how much you love your favorite businesses whenever you get a chance. These little things may not seem like a lot, but one comment or review can make all the difference to someone trying to decide if they want to patronize a business or not.  


What about you? 

How are you supporting your favorite entertainment centers during this difficult time? Let us know in the comments below! 

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