Small businesses come together to bring butterfly immersive experience for the community

BABYLON, New York -- Small businesses across the country have had to pivot throughout the pandemic.

Whether that's cutting down staff, making deliveries to customers' homes, or, unfortunately sometimes closing up for good.

For Joseph DeBello, owner of Hitch, a lifestyle boutique located in Babylon Village, closing his store was never an option.

Throughout the early months of the pandemic, DeBello created various social distancing experiences to keep his customers entertained and give back to charities in need.

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He wanted to top his Santa Claus in a snow globe event this past December, so he reached out to his next-door neighbors The Boutique and Babylon Mercantile to help him with his next big idea, an immersive butterfly encounter.

"We wanted to do something for the community and bring people into the space," said Donna Sesto, owner of Babylon Mercantile. "We thought what better way to do that than bring in some butterflies a great interesting educational place so that people can come in, take a look at the butterflies and then just spend some time in the stores."

DeBello did his research and found a butterfly provider in Massachusetts after deciding on installing the greenhouse.

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"Most people are like wow, I can't believe this is in Babylon, in the back of a store," said DeBello. "It's kind of amazing that it is. It is something unexpected, and I think that is what Hitch is about, unexpected. I come up with these crazy ideas, and it's always like what am I going to do next, and I always figure it out."

The encounter is located in a shared patio between the three stores with over 120 Painted Lady butterflies inside as well as a plethora of plants that are for sale.

"You have an opportunity to get up close and personal with the butterflies," said Sesto. "You get to spend time with your family, your friends and see a little bit of nature being able to enjoy the space."

The experience will run until Mother's Day, and there is a five-dollar entry, which will go towards local charities/organizations.

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