A mother's love built Stop N Play, a new indoor playground and cafe on U.S. 29 in Culpeper.
"The primary motivator for me creating this is my daughter," said business owner Tina Owen. "She has sensory integration disorder. For her, that means she has a need to bounce and spin. Her neurons don't quite fire like normal people so she has to exert herself in a certain way to feel good."
The more active the play, the better the 6-year-old likes it, said her mom.
"We were driving back and forth to Fredericksburg to do occupational therapy and I thought, this is crazy — why don't we create a world around her?" said Mrs. Owen, of Culpeper, wife of Jason.
About a year-and-a-half ago, the local mom underwent surgery and seized the opportunity.
"I couldn't get up and move around so I just started writing a business plan that transpired to the creation of Stop N Play," Owen said.
Located in the former location of Swetman's Amish Furniture in between The Old Country Shoppe Store & Bakery and Country Shoppes Antique, the new business features a large play space with a jungle gym, bouncy house, inflatable slide, play area, video games, televisions, air hockey and more. In a separate cafe area, customers can enjoy a latte or other drinks and dine on desserts and food items including hot dogs, grilled cheese, salads and wraps.
Besides raising a daughter and a son and investing in a small business, Owen is active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard, working as a medical administrator and making the commute to D.C. every day.
"I've been in the military for 19 years so that itself is like running a business," she said.
Owen, a native Virginian, credited her friends/employees and husband, a former Arlington County Sheriff's deputy, for making the new endeavor work.
Laura Hanna, of Culpeper, is the manager at Stop N Play. She formerly worked as a nurse in Haymarket and for the past three years was a stay-at-home mom of three aged 3, 13 and 16.
"I was ready to do something," said Hanna of the proposal from Owen to start an indoor playground. "I said, it's perfect - I always had the same idea."
Culpeper has long needed such an offering, she said, a fun place for children to be active especially when it's too hot or cold to go outside.
"We either went to Charlottesville or Manassas or Fredericksburg so there was always a drive," Hanna said.
Entry to the play area at Stop N Play is $6 per child with adults getting in free. A party room is also available for rent and it had five parties booked for Saturday.
Another local mom, Mia Haggart, is head baker and chef at Stop N Play. She was busy creating sweet concoctions on a recent day in preparation for a ribbon cutting by the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce, of which the new business is a member. Haggart, formerly a stay-at-home mom of three children aged 3, 5, and 6, taught herself to bake.
"It's just a hobby and I guess I needed someone to tell me I was good at it to build up my confidence," she said. "My specialty is cheesecake."
Haggart met Owen at a youth tae kwon do class and the business owner remembered her talent when she decided to open Stop N Play. The baker said Culpeper definitely needed something like the new inside playground.
"It caters to all ages," Haggart said.
One-year-old Olivia Scott was certainly enjoying herself on a recent visit, climbing up and down the slide with mom, Tabitha, close behind.
"This is our first time coming here," said the young mom. "I love it. We are definitely going to come back."
She echoed the other moms' comments about the need for more children's places in Culpeper.
"It's hard to find something in the area that's inside that you can take your kids to especially when it is so cold out," said Tabitha Scott. "This is great."
As for Owen's 6-year-old daughter, she loves it, too.
"Every day, she makes a new best friend," said the new business owner. "And she definitely exerts her energy."
Owen said she wanted to join the Culpeper Chamber to take advantage of all the business expertise. She holds degrees in health care management and organizational leadership so with her experiences as a female in the military, Owen feels she has something to share with the community as well.
She selected the U.S. 29 location because of its designated areas for children and parents.
"As equally as kids need to play, adults need to relax so this totally fit the vision that I had," Owen said.
Stop N Play Indoor Playground and Cafe is located at 10044 James Monroe Highway, just south of the town of Culpeper on the northbound sound of U.S. 29. Its hours of operation are Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. For information, call (540) 547-9000 or check them out on Facebook at Stop N Play LLC or stopnplayva.com