In Bean Town, you can be whatever you want to be: astronaut, fireman, princess, hairdresser, Spider-man. What you become doesn’t matter; if you are a child, and you take off your shoes and follow the rules, the adventures you can go on are limited only by your imagination.
The simple idea of having a virtually unlimited creative and educational play space for kids is what led Forsyth County local Kenneth Kelmer and his wife, Aleksandra, to open Bean Town, a 10,000-square-foot indoor interactive playground on Windermere Parkway in south Forsyth.
But aside from the idea itself, there is nothing simple about Bean Town. From the supersized inflatable “space bounce” to the life-size wooden fire truck with working lights and sirens, every inch of the business’s generous square footage is jam-packed with activities for kids.
"When the weather is hot or bad, this is the place that you'd like to be," Aleksandra Kelmer said.
Less than a month ago, the Kelmer’s opened Bean Town’s doors to the community, offering an affordable, safe play space for kid’s ages 6 months to 8 years old, seven days a week.
According to Kelmer, the idea for Bean Town was conceived after countless hours she spent at other play places with her son, Gabriel, while traveling around the country for her husband’s business.
"When we stopped traveling, there was no place like that in Forsyth County,” Aleksandra Kelmer said. “And I saw that there was a need for something like that, for parents who just want to get out, or moms who don't want to stay home to have meetup groups."
From visiting many other similar businesses during their travels, many of which she said were dirty, cramped or too expensive, Kelmer said that they knew they could do the business right and make it exactly what the local community needed.
"We thought it would be a great idea to open something like that," she said. "And we decided that this area would be great because there are a lot of families with little children."
After more than a year of looking for building, planning and construction, the Kelmer’s opened the doors of their business to the community, naming the space Bean Town for their son’s nicknames, Jelly Bean and The Bean.
Kelmer said there were a few things that were a top priority to them for the business. Beyond the security of children and the armada of top quality toys, she said that they wanted Bean Town to be a place that fits the lives of their clients.
With a low entry fee, a large snack area, no wait to enter, free Wi-Fi, a café with high-end Italian coffee and unlimited re-entry, she said that they packed the business with everything needed to keep both kids and parents happy.
"We wanted to make it safe and easily accessible to parents," she said. "We built it the way we would like to have it done for our son, but also for us."
Another thing that was important for them, according to Kenneth Kelmer, was that Bean Town would have toys and spaces for kids with autism and other special needs, and to allow them to come and play for free.
"They have so much other stuff to worry about, other things to do and other problems," Kelmer said. "This is a place that they can come and the kids can have fun and the parents can relax and let their kid be a kid no matter what their disability is.”
Even less than a month after their opening, he said that word has gotten out in the local community about Bean Town.
"We've been open 24 days and we've probably had 1,000 people through here already," he said. "All the parents put us on these Facebook pages ... and it's blown up."
On Wednesday, Kelmer said that one reason for that interest from local parents is probably because there is nothing like it in the community. He said that in a world where pure educational and creative spaces are shrinking, parents are likely snapping up any opportunity for their kid to just play and be a kid.
"Everything we have here is something to stimulate the growth of the children and keep them growing as they come," he said. “Everything here sparks the imagination."