Surprising Business Suddenly Booming as Virus Spreads Around the World

For the foreseeable future, the world will need to change.  Drastically.

This isn’t meant to be some doom and gloom prediction, but rather a statement of fact.  If we want to keep our at-risk loved ones safe, we will need to practice social distancing and a great deal of precaution in order to starve the strain of coronavirus that has put us into this predicament.

That means no more hanging out at the bar.  No more nights out at the restaurant.  Forget about the bowling alley and your kids’ birthday parties.  Now is the time to binge Netflix and learn how to bake bread.

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One of the industries hardest hit by this pandemic has been showbiz.  Not only are studio productions around the nation shutting down to do their part, but movie theaters are being forced to temporarily shutter as well.  This has led to the surprising resurgence of a once-outdated business model:  The drive-in.

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The Showboat Drive-In Theater in Hockley, Texas, about a 30-minute drive outside Houston, normally sees ticket sales go down about 40% on a weekend when they don’t have any new movies. Last weekend, they saw a 40% increase, says the theater’s owner, Andrew Thomas. Usually open weekends, Thomas has kept screenings going through the week.

“Obviously this isn’t the way you’d want it to occur, but I’m excited for the idea that there may be a new generation of people that will get to experience going to a drive-in theater and — I was going to say catch the bug,” said Thomas, laughing. “Maybe some other turn of phrase.”

Of course, this isn’t the perfect solution for those growing bored at home, and it’s possible that this boom won’t last all that long.

Not many drive-ins are open. It’s a seasonal business to begin with, with many drive-ins not planning to open until April. John Vincent, president of the United Drive-in Theater Owner Association, estimates about 5-10% were open as of last weekend, and some of those are closing due to the pandemic. In states like California and New York, restrictions on movement and gathering are being ramped up that mandate closures. As infections rise in other parts of the country, Vincent suspects the drive-in’s window is already closing.

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