Biz Beat

A place to learn and grow – and get out of the heat – in Modesto

Paula Charles and her family relocated to Modesto a couple of years ago.

From Alaska.

Obviously, the summers we have in the Northern San Joaquin Valley are somewhat different from what she was used to up north. “I think I’ve gotten pretty acclimated,” she said.

But those summers solidified an idea Charles had to give small children – and their parents – a place to learn and grow that would not be subject to the weather. After a couple of years of research and consideration, she opened Central Valley Play and Grow earlier this month in Modesto’s Roseburg Square.

“When we moved here, my daughter was 2 1/2 ,” she said. “I didn’t have anywhere to bring her. This concept has been in my mind for a while.”

The concept is an indoor play place where children 6 and under can climb monkey bars, create crafts and jump in bounce houses out of the heat and away from older children who might be intimidating at a regular park.

At the same time, they are learning, said Charles, who has a degree in child and family studies. She pointed out stations where children use blocks to construct buildings and cards and string to practice lacing. “We are targeting fine motor growth,” she said.

Charles spent time visiting local preschools to get ideas on what kinds of learning toys she should get. She also did her own market research, using daughter Nadege, now 4 1/2  (son Jacques is 1).

“I showed her things on the Internet and saw what she would play with,” Charles said.

Charles also researched several locations before settling on Roseburg Square. “We drove all around Turlock and Modesto,” she said.

The site has a lot going for it, she said, including being surrounded by a residential neighborhood and home to a grocery store – O’Brien’s – and some restaurants that attract families.

What Central Valley Play and Grow is not is a day care. Parents or guardians must stay with their children while they play, and they are invited to play along.

“People see my monthly rate of $59 per child and they think that’s great, they can just leave their kids,” Charles said. Once those misconceptions are set aside, parents seem to have become fans of the place already.

“Awesome place for kids!” Dianna Lynn said on the facility’s Facebook page. “So clean and well kept! So much to do there! My daughter LOVED it and she’s 6!”

Cleanliness is a point of pride for Charles. “We are wiping things down every hour or every other hour,” she said.

Central Valley Play and Grow offers birthday packages and group rates, and Charles has more ideas in store.

“I’d like to add math and science classes,” she said. She envisions conducting everything from science experiments to make-and-take slime and Play Doh projects. All more opportunities for the little ones to learn.

Find Central Valley Play and Grow at 909 W. Roseburg Ave., Suite B in Modesto, and on Facebook.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

A couple of closures to share. The first is also in Roseburg Square, where a reader pointed out the Laundermat closed. The reader mentioned that the coin-operated laundromat had been around for decades. I am not sure how long it was there, but it dates at least back to the days I worked in Roseburg Square in the late 1980s.

A sign in the door thanks its longtime customers but announces a permanent closure.

Also closed and for lease is the site of the former Jack and Jane Kids on J Street in downtown Modesto. I wrote about the children’s boutique when it opened last year. Now the site is unoccupied and the website is expired.