Imagine this: it’s a rainy spring day and your kids are vibrating with the endless energy only young metabolisms can emit. You’ve got an email Inbox backed up for days, and several calls you need to return before your family and friends send out the missing persons patrol to find out if you’re dead or alive. If only there was a place where your kids could play and you could get caught up on some work.
A place with inflatables AND complimentary wi-fi.
A place with a huge pirate ship AND hot coffee & tea.
That’s clean, secure and safe, with an open floor plan.
Everything at KidVenture is done from the viewpoint of a mom and with an eye to providing the feel of a community center. “Guests feel like it’s their home away from home. We invite them to bring in their own food, and they are always welcome to stay as long as they wish. All of our equipment is available for use with no extra fees, and we keep it very clean. Ultimately, we want to be your family’s favorite hangout.” The playground is designed for kids ages 0-9, with a special gated area for kids under 3 so that they can safely play without running into the older kids.
Rhonda opened her doors in July of 2009. “I was a stay-at-home mom for 8 years, and I kept wishing for a fun place I could take my kids to play. I would literally feel like the walls were closing in on me some days, and I would (too often) just go the store, spend too much money, and call it entertainment. I began envisioning a community-center type of place where kids could play and parents could take a break. After all, hasn’t every mom just wished for a few moments of peace in the middle of a crazy day? I finally decided that if no one else was going to open one, I would do it. So I started thinking about what features I would want from my perspective as a mom, as well as what I didn’t like. It took a couple of years of research and dreaming, plus a lot of help from friends, to make it a reality.”
Rhonda’s advice to other entrepreneurs is pragmatic. “To be a small business owner, you have to be naive, fearless, creative, stubborn, and refuse to take “no” for an answer. If you stop to think about all the bad things that can happen, you’ll never get off the ground. If you run into an obstacle, you look for ways to get over, under or around it. Owning your own business is certainly a lifestyle rather than a job–you work more than 40 hours a week, you take it with you when you go home, and it often keeps you up at night. It’s always in the back of your mind, no matter what you’re doing. And unless you’re really, really lucky, you’re not going to pay yourself very much for several years. But most small business owners started their businesses because they have a passion for what they do. You will inevitably make mistakes, but you just have to view them as the cost of real-life education and learn from each situation. And most of all–there’s no reason to go it alone. Make sure you network with other small business owners, because it’s good to be able to talk to people who understand your unique challenges.”
From the looks of it, Rhonda has achieved her vision and more. One happy parent recently left this note on her Facebook wall,
I want to comment on our visit yesterday. 1. We were so impressed with how you CLEANED several times while we were there. We loved seeing everything sanitized! 2. We’ve only visited a few times, yet you know my children’s names. 3. Ms. Lucy helps keep them safe in such a kind, sweet way. 4. Love the little ice packs for the little bumps that kids get. THANK YOU for such an “easy” fun day!! -Lisa W.
Now RCM readers can expereince the fun for yourself! Rhonda is giving away a 6-punch Play Pass to KidVenture, which is six visits, with no expiration date (worth $36). Go like their Facebook page and leave a comment on this post to win!
Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy boys, wife of one, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Managing Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and also manages to conduct freelance marketing and PR work.