Virtual Reality Comes to the Town of Pulaski

Virtual Reality. You may have heard of it before, but what you might not have heard of is its upcoming presence in the heart of Pulaski County, right here in the Town of Pulaski. Next Level VR plans to open their doors to the public tomorrow. But why Pulaski, and not somewhere else? After all, virtual reality is a fairly untapped market with a ton of potential if in the right hands. As it turns out, the Town of Pulaski may be the perfect location for the budding technology.

Just in case you don't know what virtual reality is, let's dive into some of the details. From the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, virtual reality is "an artificial environment which is experienced through sensory stimuli (such as sights and sounds) provided by a computer and in which one's actions partially determine what happens in an environment." In layman's terms, it means putting on a headset or similar device and entering a whole new world. I've never experienced VR personally, but accounts from several friends describe it as one of the coolest experiences they've ever had. If you need more convincing, search for ‘virtual reality reactions' on YouTube. There are countless, hilarious videos of people trying it out for the first time, much to the joy of those recording them.

Next Level VR plans to bring those amazing moments to Pulaski. Planning for the business has been in place for around 3 years now, with the only thing holding them back being a location. With the renovations now completed at 94 West Main Street, that problem no longer exists. Now all of that planning and waiting has come to fruition, with Next Level VR set to open its doors next Saturday.

With such a sophisticated product, you might ask yourself who the masterminds are behind this business venture. Jordan Persson, Jacob Prine and Luke Allison knew when they first discussed the idea of this business that they might have struck gold. Mr. Prine and Mr. Allison have roots in Pulaski, growing up here and in the surrounding area, while Persson was introduced to the area through Steve Critchfield, a local entrepreneur and businessman. "I joined [Next Level] because VR excites me and I believe in the mission to revitalize Pulaski. It's where I went to high school, my family has lived here for generations, and I see a lot of potential in it", Mr. Prine said. Mr. Allison has similar beliefs about the potential for Next Level. "I joined Next Level because of the implications of bringing technology to Southwest Virginia, especially technology like VR. It has the potential to influence all aspects of the local society. Whether it's entertainment, education or workforce development, this technology allows immersive scenarios that deliver experiences while removing most liabilities and costs. This technology is readily available in larger populated areas. We will be there first to bring it to Pulaski and the rest of Southwest Virginia, who would otherwise never get the opportunity."

For any business, opening a new storefront can be a gamble. There are dozens of factors that decide whether or not that new location will succeed, and opening your first storefront comes with its own set of unique trials and tribulations. However, Pulaski has some strengths to lend. VR tends to be more of a draw for younger demographics. With proximity to colleges like Virginia Tech, Radford University, New River Community College and Wytheville Community College, the opportunity is there to reach a large consumer base of young people. An interesting addition to this is the potential for VR use in places like nursing homes. Next Level recently took a few of their VR headsets to Pulaski Health and Rehabilitation Center for their long-term care elderly patients to try out. Those that tried it loved it, stating that it gave them the opportunity to leave their rooms and travel the world. VR may seem like it only has applications in the world of gaming, and while the options in that arena are plentiful, VR has so many other uses. Elderly assistance is one of those areas, along with possible uses in the education or workforce development fields. As an example businesses could use VR headsets for tours of their work facilities, resulting in satisfied clients without needing to worry about injury liability issues.

As we prepare to welcome Next Level VR to Pulaski, we hope that you'll be there with us to provide a warm reception. They have some fun activities scheduled for their opening day event on January 4th, including a Super Smash Brothers tournament and reduced pricing for customers, with regular rates being cut in half for the opening event. You can check out the details here. We'll see you there, and don't forget to bring a friend!

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