The Great STEMporium science activity center is closing its physical location at 18388 Coastal Highway in Lewes.
The owners have decided to pivot the business to offer mobile science events. They will continue providing unique science projects and experiments through an online store.
After opening their doors in July 2019, the business was forced to shut down in March for three months due to COVID-19. During the shutdown, the owners worked hard to plan for a safe reopening which included curbside pickup, a reservation system with staggered table start times, socially distant seating, separate entrance and exits, hourly cleaning routines and more. When the state of Delaware reviewed their comprehensive reopening plans, the plan was swiftly approved and the owners were very relieved. However, with the mysterious threat of virus transmission, many families, grandparents and vacationers simply choose to stay home or limit their activities to the great outdoors.
Cari Miller, co-founder of the Great STEMporium, said, “Like most businesses in the area, we rely on revenue from the summer season to provide a cash cushion for the first couple of months of the off-season until other activities like birthday parties, scout groups, school field trips and the holidays start to kick in. We knew the summer was going to be off, but it was really the restrictions on field trips and the ongoing threat of a second wave that made us realize this was going to be a very long and difficult off-season too.”
The business was able to secure some funding from the state and federal small business programs. Unfortunately, they would still need more revenue from customers to be able to cover all the overhead for several months to come. “We are grateful for the funding we did receive. It’s a major factor in our ability to pivot to a mobile services model so we can keep the STEMporium mission alive and weather the storm,” said Miller.
Miller is quick to acknowledge how thankful they are for all the families that visited, all the birthdays that were celebrated at the STEMporium, the five-star ratings they received, and all the children who left the STEMporium with science embedded a little deeper into their hearts.
“Our business model is changing, but our mission remains strong. We wholly believe that, now more than ever, getting kids interested in science, technology, engineering, and math at early ages is the key to a very bright future for all humankind,” said Miller.
The last day of walk-in table service was Oct. 4. The retail store will remain open for a couple of weeks with deep discounts on all items. Unused gift cards can be converted to digital cards for future online or mobile service purchases.
Miller said they also plan to continue supporting local schools by donating some equipment and offering a creative, socially distant discover-and-donate solution for parent-teacher organizations around the area. “We are forever committed to bringing STEM education to our community,” said Miller.