A shop hosting a live action escape game is one of a series of niche businesses test-trading in Merthyr Tydfil with the help of a unique support programme for local entrepreneurs funded by Welsh Governments Vibrant and Viable Places Programme.
Mystery Rooms Merthyr is only the third venue in Wales to offer the activity, which started in Hungary and has become a phenomenon that has spread across Europe. Teams of two to five people work together to find hidden clues and solve various puzzles in themed rooms – within 60 minutes to ‘escape’.
Following the launch of games in Swansea and Cardiff, Mystery Rooms was set up by local resident Emilie Driscoll with the help of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council’s ‘Meanwhile’ project, which offers an opportunity for new and existing business to test-trade their goods and services in vacant shopping centre premises for up to six months.
At its official opening, Emilie said:
“The support we’ve had from the Council’s enterprise team has been fantastic in helping us start our new business venture.
“Today sees the fruition of a lot of hard work that the team at Merthyr Mystery Rooms and I have undertaken over the past few months. It would have been a lot tougher if we hadn’t had the support from the business’s conception.”
She added that she decided to set up in Merthyr Tydfil as there wasn’t anything like it nearby. “There are quite a few escape room enthusiasts around the world and they travel everywhere to try out the games. I’m hoping that this business will bring in more tourism for the town, along with something a little different for people to enjoy.”
Also opened today through Meanwhile is the Merthyr Tydfil branch of The Furniture Revival, one of Wales’s largest furniture and electrical reuse centres, which has a 15,000 square foot warehouse in Rhymney and an online store.
The social enterprise works in partnership with Groundwork Wales with the aim of tackling poverty by providing clean, affordable second hand furniture and electricals, along with volunteering and placement opportunities for people to upskill locally.
“We’re opening a new shop in Merthyr Tydfil so that we can reach more people in need of furniture and increase our capacity to teach skills to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, helping them develop skills that will help them into a career path or back into the jobs market,” said Business Development and Marketing Manager Kylie Bell.
“The Meanwhile project is a fantastic scheme for local businesses and entrepreneurs to test trade, revitalising the local High Street to meet the needs of the local community,” she added.
“I would like to thank Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council’s Regeneration Team and Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association for supporting The Furniture Revival in this project to divert items from landfill and give them a new lease of life for the benefit of local residents.”
Other businesses nurtured by the programme include the highly successful fine dining JOL’s Restaurant, The Bait Shack – the only fishing tackle and accessories shop in the county borough – and upmarket upcycled goods store Furniture Reborn.
If you are an aspiring entrepreneur and want to find out more about the support available, please contact the MTEC on (01685) 727509