BY KATIE MATTESON
“Is this your house?” say some of the wide-eyed preschoolers who visit Jamie Griffith’s business for the first time.
Griffith loves this question because it means that her young guests feel comfortable in the homelike atmosphere she’s created with her husband, Tim, at Nest Playspace located at 505 6th St. in Downtown Racine.
After all, Griffith designed the space around how her 5-year-old self loved to play.
“I have always loved using my imagination and so everything here was chosen to spark creative play,” Griffith said.
Her husband built some of the play structures in the main area, including a large slide children can ride down on stuffed animals, the farmer’s market stand and a camper that sits on realistic-looking grass as a way to bring in the outdoors. Smaller rooms in the back include attractions like a dress up area, vet office and ice cream cart – perfect for pint-sized entrepreneurs.
“Most of our toys are wooden, and we don’t have electronic toys that make loud noises or light up,” Griffith said. She explained that this helps maintain the peaceful atmosphere, along with calm colors and quiet music. There are even couches for parents and grandparents to relax and talk while their children or grandchildren play.
A room in the back is the place for music classes and group craft activities, offered a few times a month. Griffith also partners with the Fairytale Birthday Company for special events, which are posted on her Facebook page. Private birthday parties are also available outside of normal business hours.
However, most of the guests, age 6 and under, visit the Nest Playspace with their parents or grandparents during drop-in hours held Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Admission is $10 for the first child 12 months and up ($6 for 0-12 months). For additional children, $6 for siblings seven months and up (free for six months and under) or $3 for a twin. There are also five-session and 10-session play passes available.
And before anyone walks through the baby gate, all guests are required to take off their shoes and use hand sanitizer. This practice helps keep the place clean, along with daily sanitizing of the toys and play surfaces.
There’s also a Yuck Bucket where toys that have been “tasted” go for special cleaning.
Griffith and her husband, who works full time as a computer programmer at Snap-on Tools, also own Seven Keys to Escape, which they opened in 2015 at 606 College Ave.
Griffith was actually scouting a location for a second escape room when she discovered the space on 6th Street. But as soon as she saw it she knew that the space was much better suited to serve as the home for her dream business.
She had worked as a nanny for 10 years, serving two families in Milwaukee and had visited similar play areas in Milwaukee and Chicago.
Nest Playspace opened on June 30, 2017 and has definitely filled a need in Racine.
For more information, call (262) 417-2871 or visit nestplayspace.com or like facebook.com/nestplayspace.