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Shutdown An Opportunity For Some To Boost Business

By Aaron Kraut

Tuesday - 10/15/2013, 9:30am  ET

extendYoga class

Over the last two weeks, Arlet Koseian has seen a few new faces and a few she hadn’t seen in a while at her North Bethesda yoga studio.

Koseian, owner of extendYoga, was one of many area business owners to introduce deals to furloughed federal workers with a federal ID. In her case, it has led to noticeably larger classes and a slightly more crowded parking lot at 12106 Wilkins Ave.

“For us, if you’re stressed, obviously as a yoga studio I felt like I had to do this,” Koseian said. “It would be wrong not to. It’s like, ‘You need this now more than ever.’”

Koseian is offering $10 prices for drop-ins, down from the typical $18 price. It has worked wonders, drawing in at least 40 furloughed workers in two weeks and allowing some who might have been away from the studio for a while to come back and try different instructors and class times.

Many yoga and fitness studios have used the federal shutdown as a marketing tool, including ZenGo Cycle (4866 Cordell Ave.), Irons Fitness (7700 Wisconsin Ave.) and Bar Method Bethesda (7710 Woodmont Ave.).

Restaurants and movie theaters are offering shutdown drink specials and Montgomery County has tried to make the most of the situation by offering short-term volunteer opportunities through its Montgomery County Volunteer Center.

Koseian sent out word of her special to an email list of about 2,500 and was shocked to see how many auto replies she got back from federal workers without access to their work email accounts. Many, even President Barack Obama, have characterized the specials as a way businesses are helping out those affected by the furloughs.

But there is a business calculation to be made. Koseian said she decided to offer the deal throughout the shutdown, no matter how long it drags on.

On Monday night, news came of a Senate deal that might reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling. But even two weeks into the shutdown and a few days before the debt ceiling deadline, that is uncertain.

For Koseian, it has meant seeing a lot of new faces and seeing them over and over again.

“I had one person tell me she hasn’t felt this way since she had a school ID. She’s using it everywhere, to get food, popcorn at the movies,” Koseian said. “It’s a weird situation. I’m like, ‘Hopefully, I won’t see you again.’”

Photo via extendYoga