Seattle start-up finds a way to spice up your night in and help keep local businesses afloat

SEATTLE -- For the last year, Seattle startup Mystery has taken couples, friends and families on a mysterious adventure, all while exploring hidden gems in the Emerald City.

"A traditional mystery, we range from something that's extremely athletic like trapeze, for example, to a gondola ride perhaps," says Emma Biskupiak, head of marketing for Mystery.

But of course, activities like those went out the window with the spread of COVID-19. The start-up's CEO told employees they'd be fine, but they still had their concerns.

"We thought, 'What does this mean for the mom and pop places that we work with? How do you make sure they're around whenever all of this blows over?'" Biskupiak says.

So they got to work on how to still bring a little mystery to people inside their homes; packaging up dinner, activities, and dessert for two.

"People are doing this because they love to support local businesses. This isn't going to give you the same exhilaration of getting picked up by a Lyft driver and not knowing where you're going."

Though it's not quite the same excitement you'd get from a traditional mystery experience, Emma says customers are loving getting a break from the typical quarantine night, and knowing they're helping keep local businesses alive is really what it's all about.

"Each box will support about 10 plus local vendors," she says.

Elm Candle Bar, a family-owned business, had only been open for a few months before having to close their doors.

It's a scenario co-owner Erin Page says is unimaginable.

"Being so new and having such a small customer base, it's difficult," Page says.

For businesses like them, Mystery Night In has helped keep them afloat. Elm Candle Bar has even been able to hire back a few employees to help fulfill orders for kits to make your own candles.

"It truly means a lot," Page says.

Page says giving business to small local companies can truly determine if they'll have a shop to go back to when all of this ends.

Biskupiak says that's what Mystery Night In is all about.

"It's been an emotional experience're bringing business in their door that they wouldn't otherwise have, that is really powerful, especially now more than ever," she says.