pulsed with excitement as children jumped up and down and shouted out answers to pop culture questions during an intense round of Five Second Rule.
All twenty kids were participating in the program, inside the store’s new activity area: Event Avenue.
Event Avenue was created as a designated space for events, programs, classes and birthday parties hosted by the Hobby Shop, explained employee Cathy Zavoskas. The shop celebrated Event Avenue’s grand opening in June.
“We really want to be considered a place to come for fun and for play and to be more of a destination rather than a quick stop before a party for a birthday gift,” said Zavoskas.
Previously, when The Hobby Shop held family game night or their summer camp, they had to set up tables out front or squeeze everyone inside, which quickly became cramped, Zavoskas explained.
The approximately 22 square foot nook is sectioned off from the rest of the store by large display shelves. It can seat about 30 people or can handle about 40 people standing, Zavoskas explained.
Owner Arlene Schutzer is happy to offer a space for children and families to come and interact.
“Really what’s happening now, it’s the computer age. And I don’t think children interact with each other as much. I think when they do come and play and they're playing with other kids rather than texting or being on a computer, I think they get more socially adapted to their environment," she said.
And although she loves the activity room now, Schutzer admits she was worried about going through with creating it.
“I panicked. I absolutely panicked. I was concerned because we were taking space away from the selling floor. [The employees] have been wanting to do it in the back room, but it’s too small. I said if we do it I want to do it right,” Schutzer said.
They decided to use an area by the window at the front, right-hand side of the store and slowly but surely relocated the merchandise. All they needed was a name.
Zavoskas ran a contest on their Facebook page, and after a number of responses and a poll, one name was the clear winner: Event Avenue.
The name not only described The Hobby Shop’s vision for the room, but also gave them a theme to work with. Zavoskas helped design a poster that depicts their mascot, Seymour, driving down “Event Avenue” with all of the small businesses representing the different departments in the store.
“People are excited about what’s going on here. They love the banner. We don’t seem to have a problem filling the classes up now that parents can see where it’s going to take place,” Zavoskas said.
Zavoskas explained that Event Avenue has become indispensible to the store, offering a place for everything from employee demonstrations, such as how to build a slot car, to themed birthday parties for children.
"Offering these activities is what differs us from Toys'R'Us and Walmart. They might be able to slash prices and do stuff that will undercut us but they cannot provide the service and the one-on-one interaction that we can. This is one thing that we can definitely say we do differently than your typical big box store," Zavoskas said.
For more information on programs and events or planning a birthday party, visit The Hobby Shop's website.