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(Mystery Image)

Mystery has built a business around getting people out. The coronavirus is doing its best to keep us all in.

Now the Seattle startup, which normally helps facilitate a surprise night on the town for couples, is offering a new feature, called “Night In,” to cater to people stuck at home while also helping businesses hurt by the outbreak in Seattle.

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It’s the Mystery date for our social-distancing times.

A traditional Mystery excursion is built around an activity, dinner, drinks, dessert and transportation for people who set preferences and communicate with the company through its app. The startup launched last September, has raised $1.3 million and plans and executes hundreds of mysteries per month at varying price points with a wide range of partners.

A Night In box sent to a buyer’s home comes with dinner for two, an activity and a few other goods from local partners. Mystery is partnering with about 10 businesses for an initial pilot, all of whom are existing partners in Seattle and all of whom have been affected by the crisis. Mystery co-founder Shane Kovalsky said the idea stemmed from a desire to help as many of the company’s partners weather the storm as possible.

“These local businesses are working so hard to adapt right now,” Kovalsky said, just a couple days after bars and restaurants were ordered closed statewide. “It’s been really impressive to see their resilience and how quickly they’ve turned an in-studio or storefront experience into something you can do at home. I really think customers will still get a strong sense of each individual business they’re supporting through these boxes.”

(Mystery Image)

The boxes are designed to elicit the same feel as a traditional Mystery date and include something fun that pushes couples a little out of their comfort zone. The packages, designed with two adults in mind, range in price from $125 to $200. That pricing relates to activity, meal and dessert selections.

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Mystery says that by partnering with local restaurants to rent vans and make its own deliveries, it’s able to create new jobs for Seattleites who’ve lost work due to COVID-19, and that it is following strict sanitary practices for packing and delivering processes. Delivery is contact free — items are dropped on a doorstep and notification is sent via call or text.

Like for many businesses, the arrival of the COVID-19 crisis has been an unexpected curveball at Mystery. The company was coming off its peak Valentine’s Day surge and volume was remaining steady amid a few cancellations.

The company called the challenge a test of why they show up each day. Their main priority is to help businesses however they can, and to come out on the other side better for it.

“The energy in our office (and our virtual office) has been amazing,” Kovalsky said. “I’m so proud of our nimble team and what they’ve turned around in such a small timeframe and under so much stress. We love our ‘Night In’ concept and it’s received a lot of enthusiasm from customers and partners alike. We’re not going anywhere.”

Mystery’s Night In will be available starting Thursday in the greater Seattle area. Orders need to be placed by midnight the night before delivery, and deliveries will be made Wednesday through Sunday. Learn more here.

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