Garfield and Friends

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Garfield and Friends

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Garfield, Odie, Jon and Friends come out to play thanks to a partnership between Soft Play and PAWS, Inc.

Jim Davis, Garfield creator and Paws President and CEO, says, “In his wry little heart, Garfield loves his friends and he loves kids. We’re excited to work with Soft Play as they bring the Garfield brand to life in gorgeous 3D, soft-sculpted foam play elements for children.”

Volusia Mall Opens Nation’s First Garfield Play Area

“Having a Garfield theme is fantastic because we can capitalize on all the other licensed products out there,” says Marketing Director Mandy York, who ordered a giant Garfield cake, hundreds of Garfield-branded kids’ sunglasses and other items for the play area’s grand opening.

Located in Daytona Beach, FL, Volusia Mall has spent all of 2014 celebrating its 40th anniversary. It has also undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation.

“With the mall looking so fresh and new, including our new play area, the holidays have been particularly festive and busy this year,” says York.

The Garfield play area was sponsored by Jon Hall/Ritchey Automotive, which also sponsored the mall’s previous play area. Additionally, both of Volusia Mall’s most recent play areas were designed, manufactured and installed by Soft Play, LLC, which has an exclusive licensing agreement with Paws, Inc., owner of Garfield & Friends.

“Soft Play gave our sponsor a ton of themes to choose from but the sponsor did not want a play area that was all cars just because they are a car dealership,” explains York. “They wanted something that would be incredibly appealing to children. They wanted something different.”

York continues, “Jon Hall/Ritchey Automotive loved the Garfield theme immediately but they also wanted to tie it into Daytona Beach somehow. Soft Play came up with ‘Garfield on the Beach’ and gave us several renderings and options. The result is a one-of-a-kind Garfield play area!”

York says that the public’s reaction has been overwhelming and the mall is already seeing the benefits of increased traffic.

“I know that Books-a-Million right outside the play area said they have been much busier than they used to be. So we know traffic has increased,” says York.

She adds that she has worked with Soft Play on several play areas and says, “Soft Play is fabulous. They always have been. They are always communicating with their clients. They offer so much help and insight during the process. If we’re going in a certain direction, they help us think of everything we need to consider. And they are great with sponsors. We pull them in on our calls with sponsors, so they really have to deal with the mall and with the sponsors and I’m always very impressed with them.”

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