By Meghan Curtis

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The team of instructors at OpenBarre Studios stand ready to welcome clients.
Credit: Courtesy of Camie Gore

As restrictions due to the pandemic have been easing, OpenBarre Studios celebrated their reopening by collaborating with local businesses to offer gift bags full of goodies and coupons. 

A full baker’s dozen participated — Athleta, Bagels ‘N Grinds, Bananas Hair Design, Big Planet Comics, District Taco, Hair and Space, My Beauty Place, Potomac Pizza, Seoulspice, The Board and Brew, The Habit Burger Grill, The Hall CP and The Spa at The Hotel.

Lauren Filocco, who owns OpenBarre and is a University of Maryland (UMD) 2012 alumni, sparked the collaboration. She completed barre instruction training and opened the studio, in 2017, with five employees. OpenBarre, on Knox Road, now has 11 instructors. 

Before the pandemic, the studio offered 33 weekly classes, each of which blend Pilates, yoga and ballet. When Gov. Hogan mandated closures, in March, 2020, Filocco began offering virtual classes. 

OpenBarre Studios opened its doors again in April of this year, with four classes. Each week, the studio offers three virtual classes and 22 in-person classes; 16 are being held in the studio and six outdoors. Studio capacity is limited to 10 people, and participants must wear their masks according to county regulations. 

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Owner Lauren Filocco stretches with Lauren Warner at College Park’s newly reopened OpenBarre Studio.
Credit: Meghan Curtis

Many in College Park have rallied around the city’s small businesses through the pandemic, and Filocco acknowledged how important it is to keep the focus local. “If we don’t support local businesses, every town will look the same,” she said.

Filocco came up with the gift bag promotion to enhance her existing connections with other business owners and spark new connections, too. The gift bags proved to be a boon to customers and participating businesses alike, and the business owners who collaborated were enthusiastic about having this chance to reboot. 

Adam Greenberg, president of Bagels ‘N Grinds and Potomac Pizza and a big fan of the university, was eager to support the project. “We love helping out local businesses,” he said, adding that when OpenBarre called, it was easy to step up: “They asked; we gave.”

Alex Tucker, marketing director of District Taco, was excited when OpenBarre Studios contacted her. Tucker said she “always love[s] to help with local businesses” and hopes to  collaborate in a similar promotion again. 

Michael Chmar, a partner at The Board and Brew, credited his strong partnerships and hardworking employees for the business’s survival. The venue was hard hit by the pandemic, losing both staff and customers when the university shut down. He was glad to contribute discount cards to the gift-bag giveaway. 

The Hall CP had been open for only a month and a half when restrictions were put in place and it had to close; they’ve struggled to restaff when UMD students returned. “[We are] still dealing with a lot of the domino effects that continue to still hold true,” said Shilo Peers, marketing and events coordinator for the venue, adding that the gift bag promotion was a great way to signal their comeback. 

Filocco was energized, too, by OpenBarre’s promotion, which brought so many businesses together to work toward their common goal of creating community.

For more information, visit openbarrestudios.com.