What’ll you have? The usual.
When it comes to a night out, does it go something like this? Drinks at the usual neighborhood hangout, dinner at one of your usual tried-and-true restaurants. Maybe follow it with a movie, or just head home for the usual Netflix in your PJs. If you have children, there’s the factor of childcare. Reliable babysitters are in short supply and the search for one might just convince you to stay home for more of the usual.
If you’re ready to trade the usual for something a whole lot more fun, GoUnite is ready to help.
Now picture a night out that’s a little more memorable, like a downtown rooftop seafood boil, a murder mystery dinner, a cooking class at a one of the city’s premier restaurants, or an Amazing Race-inspired scavenger hunt at ZooMontana.
All these unique social events and many more are the work of GoUnite creator Randi Barber. GoUnite offers monthly, pre-planned events that include dinner, drinks, an activity and childcare for around $45 per person, less for singles, more for families with multiple children. Participants can pay for a single event or invest in a monthly membership that comes with additional perks.
“It’s actually a little cheaper than going out for a night on your own,” Randi says. “And with GoUnite events, you always know exactly what you’re spending.”
Like many couples, Randi and her husband struggled to plan their nights out. What they wanted was an opportunity to have fun, try new places, meet new people and not have to worry about childcare or any of the planning. Asking around, she noticed their friends wanted the same things. With that little bit of inspiration and a background in accounting, Randi launched GoUnite with the tagline, “Be Social. Live Local.”
That was almost a year and a half ago, and since then the business has only grown. Participation at events ranges from 50 to 100 people, and recently, Randi has begun offering the same event on multiple nights to accommodate more people. Members and participants range in age from their early 20s to retirement.
From the start, Randi wanted to showcase the vibrancy of downtown Billings, a destination that she felt was often overlooked, even by locals.
“When people come to a new town there’s always that strip downtown where you can experience the culture of the city,” Randi says. “Billings has that, and people here are missing out.”
Jessica Edwards and her husband have four kids and live on Billings’ West End. She admits that they weren’t getting out as a couple very often. When they did have a date night, it was usually to one of their favorite restaurants. They’d been to a few places downtown but never explored the nightlife. Now, thanks to GoUnitte, they’re checking out new spots they’d never heard of.
“We’ve been able to meet people and make friends and do things we’d never have been able to experience,” Jessica says. “The events are so well planned and put together that I have confidence that everything is going to be great.”
Working directly with business owners, Randi enjoys brainstorming new, creative ideas for events that are fun for a crowd. Often, business owners provide ideas she’d never thought of.
“Everyone who comes to our events gets to meet the business owners, so I feel like it creates a better sense of community because now you know who you are supporting, and you’re more likely to go there again,” Randi says.
Childcare for kids from 6 weeks to 12 years old is offered at the Big Sky Imaginarium downtown. The children are served a home-cooked meal, and entertainment is provided for each age group. Childcare costs are figured into the event and membership costs.
In addition to offering one GoUnite event a month, Randi coordinates family-friendly volunteer opportunities, also once a month. They’re free, and attendance at the volunteer events is often as high as it is for GoUnite’s other events. Earlier this spring they helped prepare meals for the Tumbleweed Youth Runaway Program, set up for the annual Eagle Mount fundraiser dinner, and spent a day cleaning up the trails along the Rimrocks.
“People want to get involved in the community and volunteer, but most don’t really know how to find those opportunities. GoUnite provides all that for you,” Randi says.
No childcare is provided for the community events. Instead, Randi plans child-friendly volunteer projects to give families a chance to volunteer together.
“I think it’s important to show your kids that you are not too young or too busy to volunteer and make a difference,” she says.
From GoUnite’s unique events to the various volunteer service projects, Randi greatest hope is to get people engaged in the community.
“It’s really about letting people experience all that Billings has to offer instead of getting stuck in a routine of the usual,” Randi says.
LOOKING FOR SOME VARIETY ON YOUR NEXT NIGHT OUT? Go Unite offers affordable, completely planned, totally unique outings that include dinner and childcare. For details check out GoUniteNow.com.