WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A virtual reality business is now facing the tough reality of bankruptcy.
“My wife and I both said it just rips our heart out,” Above Reality Virtual Sports Complex owner Bill Gaudette said. “A lot of time and a lot of our friends came and helped us build this and set it up. Yeah, it’s sickening.”
Looking at an empty room, Gaudette is filled with the memories made there. His Watertown business is closing its doors for good.
“We are no longer in business, we are filing (for) bankruptcy, which is sad for the community because the community really enjoyed this place,” he said.
Gaudette and his wife opened the virtual golf and family entertainment spot only a year and a half ago and poured their life savings into the business to get it going.
“Between my wife and I, we put over $40,000 into it,” he said. “Something we’ll never get back.”
Gaudette says they were doing steady business until mid-March, when they were forced to close their doors because of COVID-19.
After applying for multiple small business loans to pay the bills, Gaudette says he received just $1,000 and he says local banks turned him away when he tried to get federal assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program.
“There’s hundreds and thousands of businesses closing down across the United States that are closing down,” he said, “because the federal government gave the money to the billionaire companies instead of us little people who needed it.”
And his gripe isn’t just with the feds, but with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, too.
“Him making us suffer all this long because of what’s going on in New York City has killed a lot of small businesses up here and there’s going to be more,” Gaudette said.
Gaudette says the bankruptcy process should be complete in November. He says he hopes it will relieve the pit of debt they find themselves in.