Updated: November 2, 2012 at 12:00 am
Raina Seabaugh hopes kids — and their parents — go ape over her new business.
Seabaugh and her husband, Jeff Seabaugh, own Little Monkey Bizness Colorado Springs, which opened last month at 1015 Kelly Johnson Blvd., on the north side of the Springs near Chapel Hills Mall. It’s part of a Denver-based franchise operation that has a dozen indoor family fun centers in five states.
The 7,100-square-foot Springs center offers a colorful, oversized soft play structure and other play equipment for kids up to age 8 or so. It also features an art room stocked with paints, markers, scissors, paper and other items, and is the first Little Monkey Bizness to feature a new interactive technology from EyeClick called EyeStep. Parents can play along with their kids or enjoy Seattle’s Best coffee as they watch from a cafe that overlooks the play area.
Raina Seabaugh, a Colorado Springs native, is a former math teacher; she taught two years at a middle school in California and another two at Rampart High School in the Springs. Jeff Seabaugh, a former Marine, recently went to work for NAVSYS in Monument; he previously worked at The Gazette. He’s also the chief financial officer and treasurer of Tutaweza, a nonprofit organization that delivers scholarships to Tanzanian children. They have two little monkeys of their own — a 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.
Raina Seabaugh recently answered a few questions about the business.
Question: How did you two end up becoming Little Monkey Bizness owners?
Answer: I come from a family of entrepreneurs; both my parents started their own business, and so did my grandparents. We always knew we wanted to have a business. It just took us a long time to find out which business really fit us the best. We looked at several other franchises and didn’t find one where we felt like we could be there every day and still enjoy it all the time.
Our kids really helped us go this direction: Our 5-year-old son is very active, and we struggled to find things, in the winter months especially, to keep him busy and active. We thought of an idea similar to this on our own, and then someone said, “Hey, have you heard about Little Monkey Bizness in Denver? You should go check it out.” So we went and visited and started talking to the founder of Little Monkey Bizness, and found that a lot of our ideas aligned.
Q: How did you choose this location? Was this a new build or was something here before?
A: It used to be the Flooring America store. It was surprisingly hard for us to find a good piece of commercial real estate; we needed a certain height of ceiling for our play equipment and a certain square footage to fit in everything that we needed. We looked at a lot of spaces. This one, I felt the location was the best because we’re on the north side but close to the interstate, so we’re accessible to all parts of town. It’s a busy part of town, too
Q: It seems like there have been several indoor play centers that have come and gone in the Springs, such as Li’l Biggs. Did that give you pause, particularly during this still rocky economy?
A: I would say slightly. We were surprised when Li’l Biggs closed. Pump It Up, on Powers Boulevard, is another one that closed. I think the city needs more things for kids to do inside, especially in the winter. And looking at this business model and how the Little Monkey Bizness locations in Denver have done, all of them have done great. In the long run, the economy wasn’t a scare factor.
Q: In a business like this, I would think safety is job one. How do you keep the kids safe?
A: My staff is very aware of who’s going in and out of the doors at all times. We make sure every person is greeted when they come in. If it is an adult alone, we make sure that they tell us who they’re meeting. In terms of the play equipment, our whole floor is double padded underneath the carpet. The soft play structure has netting all around it so kids can’t fall out. It’s all enclosed.
Q: I know you haven’t been open long, but how has it been going?
A: It’s going well. The exciting part is seeing kids in here and enjoying the place and playing on the equipment. The parents seem to love it, too. We got a mom in here the other day — she didn’t really know what we were but decided to check it out with her three kids — and they stayed for six hours.
Q: Christmas is on the horizon; I would think that could be a good time for business.
A: Yes, I think both Thanksgiving week and Christmas break we’re going to be busy. We’ll also be open on all the school snow days, so this will be a place for people to come.
Q: What is the EyeStep technology and how did you become the first location to have it?
A: Other locations cater to age 6 or so in terms of what they offer. The founder wanted to introduce some things that would raise that age a little bit, so that a little bit older kids would be interested in coming. So that’s where the technology piece comes in. With the EyeStep, there are different effects that we have. Like there’s a soccer game where it shows a soccer field on the floor and a soccer ball projected on the field, and kids can come up and kick at the soccer ball and it moves.
Questions and answers are edited for brevity and clarity.