Finalist Q&A: The Playground Guide

The Playground Guide publishes directories of playgrounds for busy parents and caretakers. Their books are professionally designed, with included hundreds of photos and they tell parents everything they need to know to plan healthy, wholesome, low-cost outdoor activities with their kids. The books include directions, insight on bathrooms, parking, picknicking, equipment, ground cover and more. The books also tell you about cool places to visit like museums, art studios and kid-friendly restaurants and shops.

Idea Cafe: How did you come up with the idea for your business, and what were yourinfluences and sources of motivation?

The Playground Guide

Amy Lamperti: My source of motivation was a desire to see the end product myself! After I stopped working outside the home, my 3 children and I were going to the same playground 3 times a day. I grew up in the area I live in now and still didn't know where all the playgrounds are. We started to visit some of my childhood playgrounds and everywhere we went we found parents, babysitters and other adults comparing notes on local playgrounds so I decided to take the kids on tour, visit them ourselves and share our research in the form of a book. We actually still use our own copy. Every once in a while pull out the book and I read my own directions to get to a playground we haven't visited in a while!

What do you consider to be a unique feature of your business?

Within the book we created something called a "make a day of it" recommendation which gives you an idea on what's nearby to turn a playground visit into a mini-daytrip or bigger adventure. Lots of people think this is a cool or unique feature of the book. We also sell advertising in the book which gives local businesses the opportunity to have their information and messages in front of busy parents and caretakers over and over again - that's unique. However, I think what's most unique about the book is that it provides an opportunity for people around the country to do something meaningful with their kids and at the same time make money and build their resume. By authoring a local version of The Playground Guide a newly at-home mom or someone who's kids just went off to school can create a great resource for their local community and get out and explore the local playgrounds and parks with their kids. Being a local author is a unique and fulfilling project.

What are your thoughts on the future of small businesses in a slowing economy and their importance to the vitality of the local community?

I think smaller businesses are always a critical element and source of vitality for a local community. They are what give the community it's flavor and character and the network of small business is what helps a community's members find the personal and unique goods and services they need. We can only hope that one result of a slowing economy will be new opportunities for smaller businesses. Perhaps economic conditions will force commercial property owners to re-think their true market value and the pricing on commercial sales and leases will become more attainable for the new business owner. Or perhaps bigger businesses will leave or downsize their presence in markets where they operate on narrow margins and leave a vacuum that smaller businesses can fill. Ameriicans are known for their resilience and entrepeneurial spirit - ideally those that find themselves without a job in big business or government will use the opportunity to pursue their dreams and start the business they've always wanted to own.

Why should the Idea Cafe regulars vote for you?

I think Idea Cafe regulars should vote for me and The Playground Guide because it is a fun and useful product that both adults and kids love. It fosters healthy, wholesome, affordable activity. Should we win, two people will have the good fortune to be able to author their own local version of The Playground Guide and they will also be able to choose a non-profit or otherwise worthy cause in their local community to receive a donation in the form a full-page advertisement in The Playground Guide.


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