PLATTSBURGH - It's not always easy to meet someone and, in today's fast-paced society, it's not like there's a lot of time to go looking for Mr. or Ms. Right. That's where Julie Woodley and Jessica Ellithorpe want to help.
The two are behind an effort to bring speed dating to town through their brainchild, "7Minit Dating." It's a way for single men and women to meet each other in a quick, efficient and comfortable environment.
Woodley - owner of DressCode, which will sponsor the initiative with host site Olive Ridley's - said her single customers have expressed interest in speed dating, leading her to look into setting up the service.
"I felt like it was a need in our community," she said. "I just think it is a simple concept and one that could really take off and be a lot of fun."
It's taken quite a bit of planning, including building a website, securing the venue, and defining a format, she said. And, there's still more work to be done.
"Probably more than I know right now," said Woodley. "We have to review applicants and pick compatible dates ... We also have to set up the bar and organize the dating. After that, we have to go over the comments and match up dates. So, it does entail a lot."
"We've probably taken on more than we realize, but we're both single moms, so we are masters of time management and efficiency," added Ellithorpe, laughing. "We'll get it done."
The 7Minit Dating format is rather self-explanatory, said Ellithorpe. Each night that a 7Minit Dating event is hosted, 12 males and 12 females who have been pre-screened will have the opportunity to sit down with each other and hold a conversation for seven minutes before the emcee announces the speed date is up. The two at the table will have approximately one minute to fill out information cards about their date. The male participants will then shift to the next table to chat with their next date.
"At the end of the process, all participants will turn in their information cards, which will detail their interest in specific individuals," explained Ellithorpe. "Cards will be collected, and after interest sheets have been reviewed, participants will be contacted regarding common connections that were made."
"In speed dating, you can recognize your lack of compatibility with your date in seven minutes or less, compared to a normal bad date, which could drag on for an hour or more," added Ellithorpe. "We've all been there, and it's terribly uncomfortable."
Before even participating in a 7Minit Dating event, potential speed daters must go through a registration process on-line at www.7minitdating.com and pay a registration fee. Applicants will be screened and contacted by Woodley and Ellithorpe, and be assigned to the four categories determined by age - 25-34, 35-47, and 42-55 and older.
"The two session fee allows you to dip into another age bracket. Thirty-four-year-olds would potentially date 35-year-olds, but the cutoff for their age brackets doesn't permit for them to participate in a given night," said Ellithorpe. "Therefore, using our best judgment, we will allow people to dip into higher or lower age brackets."
Woodley and Ellithorpe are now in the process of developing posters and brochures and distributing them around town and spreading the word about 7Minit Dating however they can, said Ellithorpe.
"Our goal is to get the word out about speed dating, encouraging individuals to check out the website and apply for the process," she said. "7Minit Dating will just offer one more way for people to connect. You might even make an extra friend or two out of it, if things don't work out romantically."