An Unfortunate Truth I've Noticed as the Owner of an Indoor Playground

An Unfortunate Truth I've Noticed as the Owner of an Indoor Playground

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, I’d like to first start off my saying this will not be my typical post detailing fun birthday parties or giving indoor-playground business advice. But this topic has been on my mind and in my heart for several months now, so I have to get this out. I’ll do my best to be brief.

I’d also like to preface this by saying that we at Climbing Vines Cafe and Play are so blessed to have an extremely kind, loyal, and respectful group of regular customers who do us the honor of visiting us weekly, and sometimes even daily. We love you. Thank you.

I feel so lucky, as the owner of this business, to have the chance to witness precious moments between parents and their children and also be a part of important life milestones like baby showers, first birthday parties, and more. I have witnessed babies take their first steps, I have celebrated newborns latching in public for the first time, and I have been a shoulder to cry on when an overwhelmed parent just needs a break. All of this brings incredible magic to my life and I feel grateful every day.

13 Frequently Asked Birthday Party Questions We Get at our Indoor Playground!

13 Frequently Asked Birthday Party Questions We Get at our Indoor Playground!

Hosting a birthday party at Climbing Vines is a guarantee that your child will have a unique and fun experience! Every one of our packages includes a private rental so you can enjoy our play cafe with just your guests. Each party is completely individualized and we accommodate for nearly any sized event.


Whether you’re considering hosting a part in our indoor playground space or are looking to create your own indoor playground birthday party package, below are some frequently asked questions (and answers!) about our birthday parties.


15 Frequently Asked Questions About Our Indoor Playground Facility

15 Frequently Asked Questions About Our Indoor Playground Facility

Our family-owned and operated 2,500 sq. foot space features a clean, imaginative play-area for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, as well as a barista-staffed gourmet coffee, tea, and espresso cafe for adults. It is large enough for the children to run & play, yet intimate enough for adults and caregivers to relax, have a conversation, or catch-up on work.

If you’re a regular at Climbing Vines Cafe and Play, this information should be familiar, but today we want to share some frequently asked questions in case you missed them or you are a prospective play cafe owner looking for your own FAQ inspiration.

What to Do When A Customer Attacks Your Business Online

What to Do When A Customer Attacks Your Business Online

If this is as far as you get in this post, just remember: online criticism will happen NO MATTER WHAT. And it will all be ok.

Earlier this year, a woman orchestrated a coordinated social media attack on my business and me personally. It left me gutted for hours. I could tell soon after she messaged me that she was attempting to get a rise out of me for social media attention, which was confirmed by the other reviews she had been recently leaving local businesses.

However, I was able to take (most) of my own advice and quickly diffuse the situation. I didn’t handle it perfectly, but I have absolutely come a LONG way from my early years as a business owner, and I am proud of my response to the situation and still stand by it.

How to Deal with Copycat Competitors in Your Indoor Playground Business

How to Deal with Copycat Competitors in Your Indoor Playground Business

For a year or so after Climbing Vines opened, I could barely go one day without checking the websites and social media accounts of my local competitors. I was constantly looking over my shoulder, hoping and praying that no one would “copy” my business idea and steal all of my customers.

After two direct “copycats” opened within the first few years, it turns out that I was right about one thing: when someone finds success doing something, others will quickly recognize that and attempt to emulate it as best as they can.

However, I was wrong in thinking that these “copycats” would have an impact on my own business.

What We USED to do when an Employee Quit

What We USED to do when an Employee Quit

As any business that employs part-time team members, we see a fair amount of employee turnover at Climbing Vines. This is true for any local business, but especially for an indoor playground. Many people will apply and join your team without fully understanding what to expect, or what’s expected of them since the business concept is relatively new.

While I felt business was a strong suit of mine, when I first opened my play cafe, I was in no way prepared to manage a team or to develop efficient processes. After all, in business school, we learned a LOT of theory without a lot of application. Everything I knew assumed “perfect conditions.” However, in a real brick-and-mortar business, perfection is not the case. Appliances break, humans make errors, and customers are unpredictable.

So, I’m not proud to say, managers or key employees have left our business unexpectedly and I was left to scramble to replace them.

5 Ways We Prepare our Indoor Playground For Emergencies

5 Ways We Prepare our Indoor Playground For Emergencies

These days, especially if you are in the U.S., even minor injuries like a finger jam or a slip and fall can have devastating effects on your small business, so the recreational aspect of an indoor playground makes us especially vulnerable to injuries, lawsuits, and disgruntled customers.

We also of course want to prioritize the safety of our guests as much as we possibly can.

Remaining prepared during any sort of personal-injury emergency should be self-explanatory but it’s, unfortunately, one of those things that we all think is never going to happen to us until it does. That’s why today I want to lay out exactly what we did so that our indoor playground facility is as safe as possible and is prepared for emergencies, and specifically, customer injuries, and I want to share the following 5 tips so you can do the same.

The Only Time We've Had to FIRE a Customer at our Indoor Playground Business

The Only Time We've Had to FIRE a Customer at our Indoor Playground Business

The only time we’ve “fired” a customer happened a little over 6 months ago. While this was a difficult decision to make, it was necessary for the well-being and safety of our other customers. Unfortunately, not every family is going to share our philosophies or feel obligated to abide by our policies, so we have found it is easier to let those customers go and focus on the customers that do love and respect our space and our rules.

Speaking of rules, we at Climbing Vines Cafe & Play are big proponents of black-and-white rules with NO grey area, meaning that we work very hard every day to enforce our rules consistently. We currently have a “3 strikes, you’re out-for-the-day” policy, which seems to work well in most cases. Given that we serve mainly families with preschoolers and younger children, we understand that children in this age range can have difficult days.