What would you do if your business plummeted in the middle of a pandemic? This is a very real scenario for a number of Vermonters, and when it happened to Burlington resident Jenny Rooke, she decided to dance — in an inflatable T. rex costume.
Jenny Rooke co-owns Rookie’s Root Beer with her husband, Dave. Since 2005, the pair have been making soda in their converted one-car garage and selling it to around 100 Vermont bars and restaurants. But when Gov. Phil Scott issued his Stay Home, Stay Safe order in March, their business, Rooke says, was decimated.
“Ninety percent of our business is draft sales online, so when the restaurants shut down, we shut down,” she said. “Then when a lot of the things came up for the CARES Act, when that came through from the government, we didn’t qualify, because we needed to have at least one employee, and we’re both owners.”
Rooke, 46, teaches some Zumba as a side hustle, though the governor’s order meant she couldn’t do that for awhile, either. Around the time that normal life stopped, fellow Zumba instructor and friend Regina Patterson says she was late-night shopping on Amazon when a suggested item popped up: an inflatable costume in the shape of a tan and very top-heavy T. rex.
Patterson explains that she and Rooke have an inside joke about the song “Walk The Dinosaur.” Naturally, she decided to buy the $60 dinosaur suit for her friend.
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