BENSENVILLE, Ill. (CBS) — Your corporate party may be canceled this year, as companies steer away from holiday events due to COVID-19 concerns.
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas on Tuesday showed us a niche Bensenville business that profits off those gatherings, and is now struggling to make ends meet.
Girard Hendelman had a hot hand. His casino-themed party business was on pace for its best year yet.
But then COVID-19 hit, and stacked the deck against him.
“We’ve had to cut hours, cut salaries,” Hendelman said. “I made one dollar a month. I cut my salary to almost nothing.”
GSH Casino Parties sets up tables and sends dealers to office parties and fundraising. The money is fake, but the parties often include real prizes to sweeten the pot.
“We’re like an adult Chuck E. Cheese,” Hendelman said. “Fun, interactive, and then at the end, you get raffle tickets and cash out for prizes.”
Also From CBS Chicago:
- SWAT Situation Ends Peacefully After Man Dangled For Hours Off Trump Tower
- Volunteers Boarding Up Homes In Harvey Despite City Wanting Them To Stop
Employees say they would usually be fielding calls about holiday parties this time of year.
“Someone who handles maybe your employee parties guy on phone,” Hendelman said.
Instead, they’re calling companies to see if anyone has any interest in their small, in-person party or virtual poker options.
Hendelman said business is down about 80 percent. The company got a Paycheck Protection Program loan of about $20,000, which only amounts to about one month’s worth of expenses.
“Without having that corporate business come back, we have to have some kind of money from the government to sustain us,” Hendelman said.
The Bensenville-based business is just one of thousands of companies that cater to corporate events and are now struggling.
“We got nothing,” Hendelman said. “Nothing going out right now.”
For many companies, health concerns and financial struggles mean holiday parties aren’t in the cards.
“What we’ve heard from a lot of our clients is: ‘We want use you. We’re going to use you when it’s sort of safe to do so or OK to do so.’”
Hendelman is hoping 2021 will be a jackpot year.
GSH is one of just a handful of casino-themed party companies in Illinois. Hendelman said there are just about 50 across the U.S.