PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Local entrepreneur Liam Gorman has built a treasure hunt that he hopes will drive traffic into local small businesses.
This Pittsfield treasure hunt will be through Cozquest.com, which Gorman named after his rescue pup Cozmo.
"It's really my small attempt to get people to spend money where they otherwise might not think to," he said.
By visiting cozquest.com on their smartphones, players will have to solve a puzzle, follow a map and then locate and scan a QR code hidden at a local business. Once they've scanned the code a prize will open up that is tied to the local vendor and, hopefully, will encourage the player to spend some money at that business.
The event will run from Thursday to Sunday, Feb. 11 through 14.
If a player can solve all the puzzles and find all the QR codes, they will be entered into a raffle for a prize donated by the event's sponsors: a $250 prize from Lee Bank and a free one night stay at Hotel on North.
Gorman said the treasure hunt is similar to geocaching, which is an activity he likes to do with his kids. Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a GPS receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called geocaches or just caches, at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.
In late November, even with COVID-19 fears swirling, a few dozen local businesses participated in the first CozQuest for Small Business Saturday. Gorman said 10 participants were able to finish all of the puzzles and were entered into the raffle for a $100 gift card courtesy of Downtown Pittsfield Inc. and the Entrepreneurship For All (EforAll) small-business training and mentorship organization.
Similar to the last event, there will be 10 puzzles with 10 participating businesses. These include Dottie's, Berkshire Yoga Dance and Fitness, Berkshire Mountain Bakery, Kissy's, Ayelada, and some local specialists including a spray tanner, a jewelry maker, a hiking tour company, a photographer, and a professional organizer.
"It's a pretty eclectic bunch of people," Gorman said. "But I think it speaks to who makes up the Berkshires."
Most of the QR codes will be hidden in the windows of businesses and shouldn't be too hard to find. Even QR codes for virtual businesses will be out in Pittsfield.
Gorman was one of the 12 businesses chosen by EforAll's Pittsfield chapter to participate in the Fall 2020 Business Accelerator Program. This program was hosted virtually and began in the week of Sept. 7.
He said it was a great program that aids local entrepreneurs in getting business up running or helps pivot existing business. Without specialized technology and finance experience, Gorman first thought that he needed to wait for funding to get the ball rolling when he had the idea about a year ago.
After the program, he realized that he could proceed before securing funding and build the website on his own.
Through this experience with CozQuest, Gorman is gaining a wealth of technology education and said that businesses seem to be responding well. He said this has been a labor of love, costing mostly sweat equity as "luckily or unluckily" he is stuck at home during the pandemic.
Everything from the graphic design to the web layout was done by Gorman.
"I'd like to make it a regular thing," he said. "Especially when tourist season comes up because I really want the tourists to be able to find the local gems that we all know and love."
Ideally, Gorman would like to do a CozQuest once a month until summer and then hold one that benefits the whole county if funding can be secured. He said that there are countless communities who could benefit from this, as COVID-19 has caused local businesses to suffer the most.
In the meantime, he is having fun building the treasure hunts and getting the community together.
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