new play centre - addiscombe(16 Posts)
Hi all, i'm going to open a new soft play centre and cafe in Addiscombe for the under 5's and their families. Hoping to open in November so i'm trying to get the word out to all you Mumsnetters out there. I'd love to hear about your 'soft play experiences' so i can avoid making mistakes and offer things that would really work for you. Any comments gladly received. Thanks
I would have thought that parking is often an issue. You're targeting under 5s, but many families with under 5s also have over 5s. Will you have no provision for this age?
A good selection of food and drink seems to help enormously in these places, as well as frequent clearing and wiping of tables. If the cafe bit is somewhere that mums are happy to sit then you will have more visitors. MNers of course love free wifi!
i'm really going to focus on the under 5's rather than doing older age groups as well. My toddler was always getting squashed by older children when we went to the larger play centres. You are totally right about parking and we will have a certain amount of parking on site. Good food and cleanliness are both big ones. Some places are really grubby aren't they. Love your idea for wifi...will factor that into the budget....many thanks
So what are you going to do about over 5s? Ban them? Have separate area/separate activities? Obviously almost all families with more than 1 child will have an under and an over 5 at some point. Is it an age factor or a size factor?
Has your toddler reached 5 yet?
No, I wouldn't dream of banning anyone - the children over 5 just wont be able to go on the play frame equipment. I have to make sure i'm not going to be in breach of any government safety rules/ ROSPA guidelines etc. They will be very welcome to join in with craft or other activities etc. I should imagine that older children won't find the play equipment challenging enough anyway. It might be uncool for them? Plus there are places around Croydon who cater really well for older children. I'm trying to specialize a bit more than the existing places.
I've got a nearly 3 year old, a 14 year old and a 22 year old so a big spread.
It sounds a great idea. Will you be accessible by public transport?
My pet hate about some soft play areas is too many escape routes from the play section. It's not much use keeping an eye on the front gate if they've legged it by a back exit and are now trying to escape the building altogether.
The other thing is cleanliness. Some of these places smell rank and the toilets can be beyond description. You need enough toilets too to cope with just toilet-trained children who can't wait very long.
Would you be available for private hire?
It sounds like it could be a great venue for sling meets.
I only ask because it's not easy to stop an over-5 from joining in with stuff. IME they kind of like the baby stuff because of the novelty.
Imagine trying to do stuff with your 3 year old and, say, a 6 year old. The age gaps you've got aren't going to give you the same experience of catering for older siblings.
Hi all, thanks for your comments. I am a qualified Nursery Nurse by trade so although my own children are of a wide range i have lots of experience at work in schools/nursery's, nannying, childminding etc. Cleanliness in general is a big one. I'm planning on having a dedicated cleaner visit us daily and routine inspections built into the day for all staff. I agree, sometimes the facilities are beyond description.
The design of the play space is a big one. There won't be any way the children can get out via a back route. And we shall have security gates at the front along with an automatic push pad door for added security and ease of access if you have a pushchair.
On the age gap thing its going to be very difficult catering to all families needs so i'm not going to try. During a weekday, children over 5 will be at school and i have just as many people who want something dedicated to the under 5's as who want something for older children. With existing play centre's in the area focusing on bigger children (such as Kidspace) i'm not going to try and compete with those business. We will be small, friendly and personal with some of the best elements of a nursery school combined with the best elements of an indoor play centre. We will do private hire/birthday parties etc as well.
oh sorry meant to say we will be just up the road from Addiscombe tram stop. Almost opposite the Co-op. Bus route is the 312 and the one that goes down to Ashburton, can't remember the number. I'll check it out - thanks everyone for all your comments
Good luck. Where is your parking going to be? How many spaces will you have?
If you're planning on promoting it here, you'll need to pay the advertising fee.
Wow sounds great! Can't wait to bring my son there. When are you planning to open it? May be you should advertise in local croydon papers and croydon magzine.
Opening hours and cost would be a big thing for me other than the comments made about potential escapees and clean facilities. I have often thought that I would rather pay a a fee on entering that including a free hot drink so that if I was thinking of a sit-down and drink I would (mentally) take that off the price of admission. It also helps if it is easy to see the little ones. At kidspace you have to follow the under 5's around or lose them. Parking areas for prams/pushchairs can be helpful so that they don't block the views or the corridor areas. I have found a bouncy castle (like at Antics is rather noisy for people to talk over unless set well back. Homemade food is a great choice if only sandwiches. I would also love somewhere that has small milk bottles on sale like the water bottles you buy in supermarkets. Ikea sell third or quarter pint cartoons but you still need to put them into your own cup. Obviously high chairs, changing mats in toilets etc... I could go on! My best position would be somewhere in the Whitgift centre to break up a shopping trip but I expect costs would be too high. Be sure you can offer more than a toddler group though as they only charge about a £1 for 1.5 hours and include coffee! Good luck. Please say when you open and we def try it out.
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