Toy Store to Feature Children's Edutainment Center

Johnny's Toys, a greater Cincinnati area chain of toy stores, will feature a $1.5 million children's edutainment center in their relocated and expanded Covington, Kentucky toy store. The 9,000 square foot children's edutainment center, to be named Totter Otterville, will be part of the 45,000 square foot, retail toy store and is scheduled to open August 2001.

The White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group of Kansas City, Missouri is designing the edutainment center. Randy White, the company's CEO, says, "This is the first children's edutainment center located in a retail store. Johnny's Toys will be a leader in integrating edutainment experiences into the toy store environment. They are taking the marketing of goods and services and moving it to the next stage of economic value-a true experience that integrates entertainment and education. Their store will have gain a unique competitive advantage and will now become a destination for families who are not necessarily shopping for toys."

The edutainment center is being designed for families with children up to age 8, the primary target market for their toy stores. There will be an admission fee and parents will be required to accompany their children. The center will feature 14 unique play areas for children. All the play events are being designed as developmentally appropriate, meaning they will match children's needs for participatory play that contributes to their development and learning. The events are:

  • Water play
  • Soft-contained-play climbing equipment
  • Block play
  • Miniature play
  • Creative art studio
  • Infant/toddler play area
  • Performance/demonstration area
  • Manipulative train sets
  • Do-it-yourself face painting
  • Computer games
  • Pretend dress-up
  • Pretend supermarket
  • Pretend pizza restaurant
  • Pretend house

In addition to the play events, the center will offer enrichment workshops and host preschool and early primary grade school field trips.

The center will be themed and include the Otterly Delicious Café with gourmet coffee drinks, fresh dough pizza, submarines and snacks. Seating for 150 will be located throughout the edutainment center with clear views of all the play areas. There will also be two private birthday party rooms.

There will also be a separate café area in the toy store outside of the edutainment center serving store-only customers. Mr. White said, "To the best or our knowledge, this will be the 1st retail-host restaurant to be located in a toy store."

Both café areas will feature Cincinnati locally-roasted Lookout Joe: Mount Lookout Coffee Roasters gourmet coffees. Lookout Joe currently operates four coffee shops and supplies area restaurants.

A 2nd phase of the children's edutainment center will open in the Spring of 2002 with the addition of a one-half acre outdoor children's adventure play garden including pretend fishing, a dinosaur dig, peddle-powered go-karts, climbing equipment, do-it-yourself campfire cooking and a real fire engine.

Johnny's Toys operates 4 toy stores in the greater Cincinnati area. To date all the stores have been about 30,000 square feet. Their first store opened in downtown Covington, Kentucky in 1935 and was later relocated to a shopping center. The new store will replace that location which is less than 1/2 mile away.