Small businesses have had a rough go of it lately. With people quarantining and limiting their shopping to the essentials, even once-booming shops are closing their doors.
But one man has refused to let the inhospitable climate grind him down. After 23 years in the jewelry business, instead of simply shutting down, Johnny Perri of J&M Jewelers pivoted in a very unique way.
With nearly $1 million worth of inventory, including gold, silver, platinum, gems and other rare, precious and expensive items, Perri took them all … and hid them.
“We had the time of our life burying everything,” he told Gray News. “It was awesome, man.”
He has created one of the most tantalizing treasure hunts, using the entire state of Michigan as the hunting grounds. Each treasure buried is worth around $4,000 and is outfitted with a GPS device.
“I have buried not only my entire jewelry store but thousands upon thousands of dollars of gold, silver, diamonds & antiques in various locations in Michigan from the bottom to the upper peninsula,” he wrote on Johnny’s Treasure Quest. “Everything I have buried has a history and many memories attached to them that I have let go and placed in the ground for you to discover.”
But Perri isn’t just offering up the clues to any would-be quester. There’s an entry fee of $49 per person for the quest, which kicked off Aug. 1.
The treasures are located in a number of counties, including Newaygo, Mackinac, Oakland and Macomb. All of the August and most of the September quests are already listed as “SOLD OUT” on the treasure quest website.
“Quests begin promptly at the start time EST on your Quests start date!” the “about” section reads. “When clues are released- THE QUEST BEGINS.”
“Use your mind to work through puzzles, riddles, clues and maps. Always be safe & never destroy property while working the quest! No unnecessary digging required.”
As with all good treasure hunts, “X WILL ALWAYS MARK THE SPOT,” and “FINDERS KEEPERS of REAL TREASURE!”
To top it all off, this is just the sort of diversion many people need right now — and it can be participated in while respecting social distancing.
The Facebook page announces upcoming quests, teases the treasures and highlights the finders of those treasures.
The first treasure was found on Aug. 8, by two women named Crystal and Denise.
“Congratulations to Crystal & Denise! They found the first treasure!!!!” the page posted. “Ladies, I’m so happy for you and look forward to meeting you both soon. GPS time stamp. 10:42am EST.”
The post includes photos of the finders proudly holding up their treasure: Bars of silver.
You don’t have to live in Michigan to purchase a ticket, travel and participate. Perri hopes that this activity will give people something fun to work on together like it did for him and his family while they were planning the quest.
“The treasure lies in the adventure,” he says in the quest video.
“I think the adventurer is going to find something about themselves that they didn’t know that they could do before.”
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