Julie Underwood has been a stay-at-home mom for the past 14 years and has a pretty clear idea of what moms like her might want and need for their kids in the area. More indoor play options are among them.
So Underwood opened Coconut Charlie's Bump 'n Bounce, designed primarily for kids ages 0 to 12, last month. The indoor play center features several inflatables; a large, three-level soft indoor playground; and an area dedicated for young children. The center is in the Celebration at Six Forks shopping area in the space once occupied by Project 58 skate park.
Underwood said she originally planned on going back to work when her daughter went to school. But Underwood said she found herself too busy volunteering at her daughter's schools and carting her around to various activities. Fast forward a few years, she decided that it was time to start something herself, catering to moms and caregivers who are looking for indoor activities for their children.
"I wanted to do something like this because children never go out of style and you're always looking to do something fun," she said.
Underwood wanted to provide her visitors with new and different kind of inflatables and indoor play things for kids. At a trade show in Florida for entertainment centers like these, she landed on the three-level soft play piece, which includes slides; tube tunnels; a zip line; multiple entrances and exits; a swinging bridge; playhouse; yoga balls and other activities. My kids had a blast on this piece when they were done jumping and sliding on the inflatables.
Coconut Charlies also has a toddler space dedicated to kids ages 3 and under. Here, young kids can play with soft toys and enjoy an inflatable just for them. Adults aren't allowed in the center's other inflatables, but they can go in to help their young children in the inflatable dedicated to young kids. Parents also are welcome to play inside the three-level soft play piece.
Business ownership is new to Underwood, but not new to her family. Both her husband and father have helped to upfit the space to make it ready for kids. There's also a cafe with snack foods (more food to come) and an observation deck above the play area so parents can keep an eye on their kids from above. Parents can see the play area from the deck and also watch video from the 16 security cameras on site. WiFi is available.
Underwood has added Mommy and Me and Toddler Time activities on weekday mornings, along with craft days, kids nights out and teen events. There are two rooms for birthday parties and other gatherings.
For the last month or so, Underwood has been busy getting the word out about her business. She hopes to especially cater to the neighborhood that's right around her with specials like $5 play from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, so one parent can hang with the kids while the other gets dinner ready.
"It's been a lot of fun," she said. "We've had a lot of great responses and reviews. Very, very good."
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.