Angila Peters and Adam Shaw purchased The Oxford Drive-In during the pandemic and have seen firsthand the ups and downs over the last year. But instead of just trying to stay afloat during the most recent lockdown they have been proactive and are implementing new strategies to increase business this summer.
While drive-ins are known more for movies than live music, they are planning on booking more live entertainment this summer after purchasing a second-hand stage. “Rumour is Bob Dylan played on it and we are going to do more live shows and concerts,” said Angila who closed her marketing company to work full-time at the iconic Oxford County business. She is also planning on using the property before dusk to bring people in to shop. “God willing, on Sundays, we are looking to incorporate a flea market trunk show. A car would come in and open their trunk and have a table. They are really popular in Europe, and it will allow us to utilize our space other than at night.”
Another big selling feature this summer will be the addition of movies that normally indoor theatres would only have. “We are getting new releases and we have some epic movies coming out. With the theatre in Woodstock being closed we are now able to offer these which we haven’t been able to previously. We will continue to feature some of the classics because people still love them.”
The couple has also recently added a food truck to its repertoire of services. A custom trailer has been ordered and was to arrive in May, but the pandemic has pushed back delivery. Angila said the response has been awesome, but it has had its problems too. “We had only been open for a few days and we ran out of propane, then there was a glitch in one of the pipes. The first day we opened we sold out of 100 pounds of potatoes, the cheese curds, the burgers. The next day it was more normal and how we figured it would go.” She added that the decision to open the food truck really amounted to supply and demand. “Beachville surprisingly has almost 7 thousand people and it’s insane there is nowhere to feed them. We thought we could have a lunchtime audience and give our students and kids some hours.
COVID-19 has been a reality for The Oxford Drive-In, but Angila said they are rolling with it. “We’ve never had the drive-in without the pandemic, so we don’t know any different,” she quipped. Success in their minds comes from how customers have reacted. “We have had so many messages of support and we make people happy. Our kids all love working out there, so we get more time with them. Don’t get me wrong, it has been a challenge. We have had to spend more than we thought on special regulations and staffing. We had to serve people in their cars for the first few months, so we used a boatload of staff.”
The loyal customer base the drive-in already has in less than a year has been nothing short of amazing. “They show up and they’re frustrated that we aren’t open. Not with us, but it just seems silly. The last time golf courses were allowed to reopen we were too. We are trying to figure out what happened, but we should be open next week, and we are hoping we get enough notice from the government,” said Angila.
The husband-and-wife team runs the business along with their blended family of six children. Angila owns the drive-in with partner Adam who also runs an accounting firm in Woodstock. The blended family boasts six children from the age of 12 to 21. “Along with our six kids we have hired their friends, so it feels really family oriented. We get tons of really good comments on the kids, and it resonates with our customers,” she said.
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