Bouncing high: couple takes chance on play center
January 11, 2011
A young south county couple has taken the leap of faith with a new small business built of inflatable houses, and they hope to feel that positive bounce on the other side.
“It was really scary at first,” said Jarrod Pugliese. “It’s scary every time you take a risk. You don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re just excited to make ends meet right now. That is what’s going to bring back the economy – small business, entrepreneurship, starting from the bottom and rebuilding.”
In early December, Jarrod and wife Justine opened Bounce N Play in a 4,000-square-foot suite, with 21-foot ceilings, off Pep Circle in south Gardnerville. The huge, open space contains four inflatable bounce houses (one a 28-foot-long obstacle course), a party room, arcade games, a pool table, a 42-inch flat-screen TV with a Wii game system, a snack bar, coffee stand and plenty of magazine-covered tables for parents.
Of course, adults 200 pounds or lighter can go into the bounce houses with their children. Adults 300 pounds or lighter will be able to enter another bounce house arriving in February, this one a 40-foot-long obstacle course with an 18-foot-long slide. Sumo suits are also incoming for parents.
The idea is to offer activities for all ages, the owners said.
“We’ve had 1-year-olds go through the obstacle course. It just depends how they feel,” Justine said. “Families come in with teenagers, and their little kids can bounce while the teenagers play Wii or pool or arcade games. There’s something to do for everyone.”
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It’s an idea that seems to be catching on.
“Business has been good,” Justine said. “We’re averaging about 15-20 kids a day, and the weekends are even more hectic. Birthday parties are starting to be booked, too. More and more, the word is getting out.”
Although only in their mid-twenties, the two have combined business experience in different fields. Jarrod, a 2002 South Tahoe graduate, owned and operated a car detailing service from 2003 to 2005. He also built custom homes. When the construction industry tanked, he found himself entering his wife’s field: Merchandising. Both still have part-time jobs in that industry.
“We always wanted to be in business for ourselves,” Justine said, “and the community didn’t have anything for all ages.”
The couple’s two small children, Jamison, 5, and Addison, 2, also served as inspiration.
“There was a need not being meet in the community, but we also knew how much our kids love bounce houses,” Jarrod said.
In fact, the kids have their own bounce house at the family’s residence off Leviathan Mine Road, although they still enjoy the variety offered at their parent’s new business.
“They spend about an hour a day here,” Justine said. “They love it. They haven’t got tired of it yet.”
Because they didn’t want loan payments, the couple decided to consolidate what they could to get off the ground. Ironically, they sold off several adult toys, including a fifth-wheel trailer and 6-wheel ATV, to finance new toys for the play center.
“We found our inventory online,” Justine said. “Some of the products are made in China, but all of these are American-made, lead-free, and fire-resistant. They’re really safe.”
Facing a difficult economy, the couple also knew to set their rates low.
“People just don’t know if they want to spend the money, so we lowered our prices and party rates to accommodate the economy,” Justine said.
The business already has drawn customers from Dayton, Carson City and Coleville. When the new bounce house arrives, the equipment will be rotated, and those houses not in use will be deflated to save power. This summer, the Puglieses hope to start renting out the contraptions for private parties.
“We’re definitely here for two years, but we’d definitely like to go bigger if we find the right space,” Justine said.
“We want to stay in town,” Jarrod added, “to be accessible to everybody.”
Located at 1224 Pep Circle, Bounce N Play is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
For more information, call 783-8188 or visit http://www.bouncenplaynv.com.