While many people are cutting back their spending during this economic downshift, singles looking for love aren’t holding anything back. From matchmaking to singles events, the dating business on Long Island is in an upswing.
Great Date Now, a private matchmaking service in Hauppauge and Garden City, has reported a marked climb in membership and is expecting even more growth in 2009, showing that it still pays to be in the business of love.
“Our clients are willing to invest to help them find a quality partner, now more than ever, because they are exhausted” says Dawn Tefel, Great Date Now’s Garden City matchmaker. “Not only by the frustration that comes with online dating, but by the frustration of everyday life in this difficult economic climate.”
And one-on-one matchmakers aren’t the only ones seeing more business come their way. Grouped singles events are also becoming more popular. These pay-as-you-go events do not require membership and are a no-strings-attached way of having some cheap fun outside of the bar scene.
Gerry Reid, an administrative assistant by day, plans singles outings like nature hikes and happy hours on weekends, which she advertises at no cost on Craigslist.
“It’s not going to make me rich, but it’s not a bad way to earn a second income,” says Reid. “I find that people, when they’re single, are willing to spend the money to have someone else help break the ice.”
Companies like 7-in-Heaven.com are based on this premise and regularly hold speed dating sessions, which are especially cost-effective, at locations all over the Island. Since singles are guaranteed one-on-one time with at least 10 people in their age group, speed dating is like having 10 dates for the price of one—not even. Events typically run from $10-$50 and include extras like meals and drinks.
And for those of you whose only knowledge of speed dating comes from Sex and the City and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, here’s a crash course on the Long Island version: You get seven minutes with each person and no one is allowed to ask for a date, so there’s no on-the-spot pressure. A secret ballot does the matchmaking for you and potential couples are notified by e-mail.
“It’s a cheap form of entertainment,” says 7-in-Heaven owner Gail Adams. “If nothing else, it’s a fun, social night out. Women have met new women single friends, which is important when you’re single.”
And it’s not just singles that are good for business. It’s hard to find a restaurant right now that isn’t offering some kind of prix fixe menu or “recession buster” discount to get people through their doors. Since hosting these singles events guarantees up to 40 customers, even food establishments are jumping on board.
“I’m finding more restaurants are calling me,” says Adams. “I used to have to seek them out to hold my events. This is a way for them to bring in more business, and they see that.”
And while shrinking wallets are partially to thank for the growing popularity of these low-cost meet-and-greets, the quickly fading social stigma attached to the “arranged introduction” doesn’t hurt either.
“You could go to my events for six months and then meet someone at 7-Eleven,” says Adams. “It’s really more about creating the environment—the universe is the one who brings people together.”