Our story – The First Year
Ok so I’m back with Eden Softplay’s blog, post number 2! Looking to help people to understand the purpose of our play centre, above and beyond the “normal” play centre stuff like parties and slides!
To start off I’m aiming to get across our story, last time I explained how the soft play centre came to be and what we set out to achieve, this time I’ll be talking about the first 18 months of our project.
Eden Softplay was launched 9th November 2013: From a business perspective this was a financial risk in itself as starting mid-winter meant we would have to weather the summer with only half a winter’s income (remember, soft play is a rainy day activity!). Despite this risk, we felt the launch date was right, and so we pushed on: We knew that there would be a couple of years while the business go established before we could start investing in the community significantly, so we were eager to get going!
Like any normal business in this industry, we have seen a slow development in the number of customers and general working, for example getting our soft play parties right, over the first year. The main areas of learning have been to do with the pioneering and social aspects of the business. We have had to do a lot of “re-inventing the wheel” due to common practices in the industry being entirely money driven. For example making decisions on where to buy food stock from is an ongoing process as we seek to minimise our impact on the Earth’s resources and purchase from ethical and, where possible, local sources. This also has a cost implication as ethical and environmentally friendly products tend to come at a premium. After 18 months we feel we have got a good balance of how we operate and are proud of how we run as a soft play. While tweaking and changing the inner workings of a soft play centre isn’t as exciting as seeing local areas changed for the good, it has been an important time of creating a strong business foundation to build from.
Eden is still in its early stages, and we look forward to the day when our marketing and social media sites are full of stories of how we have changed lives. I am also incredibly excited for the day that the industry shifts to see soft play centres across the UK spreading the word of their positive impact. Until then we trust that our amazing customers will continue to support us as we push on.
Next time I’ll be chatting about the challenges we face, particularly as a Family Café in Nottingham’s city centre.