Let’s play: New Sterling business engages kids’ imaginations
STERLING – Holding a toy hair dryer up to his head, 18-month-old Wesley Wells had fun working with his hair Friday evening at his “salon” in his Kiddie City.
Then it was off to his “house,” just a few feet away, where he brought out his toy vacuum cleaner to show his parents, Matthew and Emily Wells, who were on the town square “lawn” nearby.
It’s a perfect 4,000-square-foot neighborhood: Wesley’s Kiddie City has a police and fire station, veterinarian, grocery store, and a diner all within his walking distance, and all named after him.
“He’s the mayor,” Matthew said.
Wesley’s Kiddie City will have its grand opening Saturday at 9 a.m. in Pine Tree Plaza, at 4311 E. Lincolnway, Suite G – just a few doors down from The Dollar Tree – and the Wells hope to have lots of kids come by to engage in plenty of imaginative play.
“For younger kids, it’s better to get away from the screens,” said Emily, 29, a former nursing home assistant who operates the place full-time. “We use imagination, and play the way we played growing up instead of having a tablet in front of them 24 hours a day. Problem-solving skills are important for the younger kids.”
The rough winter weather made it difficult for the Wells to have Wesley engage in outside activities away from home. That’s when Emily came up with an idea to form a place of different places where Wesley, and others, can play.
Matthew has done a lot of the construction work, beginning in early March. The city includes a party room that can be rented for birthdays and other celebrations. Rental packages include either just the party room, or the whole place; each package comes with certain decorations and accessories.
When the place isn’t rented, children from 1 to 10 years can play all day for $9.
The Melissa & Doug toy line also served as inspiration for some of the play sites. Wesley’s Kiddie City is a Melissa & Doug dealer, and sells a variety of its toys.
Registries for Melissa & Doug products also are available.
“Little ones can come in and pick out certain things that they want for their wish list,” Emily said. “We can send that out to Grandma or Grandpa, aunts, uncles, and people out of town. If they can’t make it into town, they can give something online and we can gift wrap it for them, and have it ready for them at their party time.”
The Wells’ appreciate the support they’ve gotten from morethan 1,000 Facebook followers, a number that seemed like an ambitious goal at first.
“The support from the community is definitely there,” Matthew said.
“It shows that there’s a need for this.”