Social media as a small business owner is such a blessing and a curse. It is so super helpful to us when people like, review, and share our business and our posts. But of course, we do occasionally come across negative comments.
We are super blessed that this does not happen very often. (PS-- thank you to those of you that have given us good reviews! If you haven't but would like to take a moment and do that, we'll be riiiiight here when you get back). It's a bummer when it does, but sometimes it makes it immediately clear that we have not done a good job of conveying our vision to our customers.
This happened a few days ago in fact. Someone commented that she didn't like THL because it wasn't as "impressive" as other indoor play areas.
HOLD. THE. PHONE. Um. What?!?!
Let me stop for a minute. As a small business owner, I take EvErYtHiNg very seriously. Like. Gut punch when I read that.
Automatically my mind went to the word "impressive." Are we not "impressive?" I knew immediately what she meant. We do not have a big jungle gym. We do not have custom-built "play structures" that look like a school or a hospital. Our play structures seem less permanent, and maybe therefore less "impressive."
I stewed on this for a few hours. I just love how social media can sometimes give you the time to collect your thoughts and respond in a thoughtful and well-crafted way (thanks Facebook!).
Here's what I knew in my heart: we **constantly** see other indoor play areas building big permanent structures that might cost a lot of money and look "nice." But we've never once headed in that direction. Why??
Here's the THL truth. We have purposefully and lovingly designed our playspace to be DIFFERENT than any other place in DFW. We don't have large, permanent, "impressive" play structures because we do not think that type of space is best for children.
Our playspace is designed on the idea of "loose parts play." What does that phrase mean?? Loose parts play is when children are provided with a variety of materials that can be used and positioned in many different ways. This can be thought of on a macro or micro scale. On a macro scale, that means that your kiddos (sometimes with your help!) can move around our play structures to create a new play environment each time they come. On a micro scale, think of our flex space, and the invitations to play that we frequently have out in it. The whole purpose of THL is to provide materials that can be changed and rearranged by the child to provide creative play experiences in different ways EACH time they come to play.
So, yes, 100% that means we do NOT have large play houses that serve one function. We do not have a huge jungle gym that is the same every single time. That. Is. Not. Our. Jam.
Our jam is providing a dynamic space that changes with your kiddo. Is the big orange tunnel a mountain? Perfect. Or is it a cave? Even better.
Is the soft play an ice cream stand? Great! Or an obstacle course? Amazing.
Is the nondescript wooden house a restaurant? Fabulous. Or a flower shop? We love it.
THAT is our purpose. It is NOT to deliver the most "impressive" wow moment when you walk in. It is NOT to be a place for you to take an insta-worthy picture once or twice a year. It is to be a place where you can come with your kiddo time and time again, and have a positive and unique play experience over and over.
That, my friends, is why we thrive on a membership system here at THL. We have faith that your kiddo will not get bored with that gosh darn play hospital that is the same thing every time. Instead, he will move our pieces around to create a hospital one day, and a school the next, and a castle the next. It may not be as impressive to an onlooker, but we know that for you, watching your chid's imagination is WAY more impressive <3.
If you're wondering if I responded to the comment on Facebook, I did. Here is what I said: "I appreciate you trying us out, and I really do appreciate your feedback! We know that THL is not for every family. I do want to reply, just in case there is a young mama reading this who has not been to THL before. I actually just yesterday posted on our FB page about how our space is more based on "loose parts play" which means that our play structures for the most part can be moved around by the children (or in some cases with some adult help). This means that each time a child comes to play, they can have a different and positive play experience. My sister (the co-owner) and I have found, both through observation and our higher education, that this type of playspace actually gives children a much more diverse play experience than playspaces with large, permanent, immovable structures that may seem more "impressive" at first glance. That's why we thrive on a membership system as well. We feel confident that kiddos can come two or even three times a week and have a unique experience each time. A membership also makes our prices more affordable :). Anyway, I really appreciate hearing everyone's feedback who has come to play, and I hope you don't mind me responding! We know we are not for everyone, but we are always so excited to serve the families that find THL to be a great match for them! I am always open to chat all things play and THL with anybody... just shoot me or THL a PM!"
Whew! That was a long one. We have total faith in our business and in our indoor playspace. We welcome you to come try it out, and to view it through the lens of loose parts play.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for supporting our vision of play!