The prehistoric themed play area located inside IKEA in the Czech Republic is something right out of the Jurassic Era. Play pieces were designed, hand carved and shipped overseas out of Soft Play’s facility, located in Englewood, CO. The soft foam play elements come in a wide range of designs from a baby dinosaur hatching, Alamosurus with her baby, Pterosaurs and even a T-Rex. The entire play area is enclosed by seating for parents and care givers, which gives them a chance to relax while the little ones burn off some energy.
Soft Play’s popularity continues to grow in Russia with play areas recently opened in two separate IKEA MEGA malls: MEGA Belaya Dacha and MEGA Teply Stan. MEGA is a chain of shopping centers in Russia. Each IKEA MEGA mall hosts over 150 tenants including an IKEA retail store, a hypermarket, and a DIY store.
“Soft Play is honored to offer Russian developers and shoppers a new family entertainment experience,” says Grant Sonju, Director of Soft Play’s International Business Development. “The success of these indoor play areas proves that the time is right for Russian retail developers to consider new ways to draw family traffic.
Natalia Oreshina, co-owner of Art Soft Play, which is the sole representative of Soft Play products in Russia, says that several more Soft Play installations are planned for Russia, including retail developments and airports.
“Russian shoppers love the Soft Play play areas!” says Oreshina. “Americans have long expected amenities that help to entertain families, turning shopping trips into all-day excursions. Now, with the decrease of consumer spending in the region, shopping centers are trying to offer various events and amenities to extend shopper visits. Soft Play playgrounds are one of the most effective offers in the market.”
Previous Russian installations include Voroshilovsky Shopping Center, Volgograd; Zelenopark Shopping Center, Moscow; Kontinent Mall, St. Petersburg; Outlet Village Belaya Dacha, Moscow; and Detsky Mir, Moscow.
Last year, Art Soft Play launched sales of Soft Play playgrounds in greater Europe. Oreshina says similar trends can be seen in European countries, with France and Belgium developers being the most active clients to add playgrounds to their shopping centers.
“European developers would like to install indoor playgrounds in all their properties as they realize the value of bringing young families to their locations,” says Oreshina.
Oreshina has also noticed a difference in the themes that U.S., Russian and European developers desire for their indoor playgrounds. For example, in the U.S. and Russia, developers prefer familiar themes, such as space, woodlands, or nautical. In Europe, marketing managers want their play areas to be more abstract or more sophisticated to match the color palette of the property’s brand book.
Oreshina says that her clients have been pleased by Soft Play’s ability to take their vision and transform it into the perfect play area, from whimsical to traditional themes. Each Soft Play soft play area is uniquely designed to enhance a property’s brand. (Learn more about the company’s design/build process here.)
“In the end, this is a feel-good experience for everyone: the retailers see the value of their investment through increased foot traffic, parents get to shop longer by rewarding their children with a play break, and children get to exercise and play thanks to a gorgeous new playground,” says Oreshina. “This is a trend that can only continue growing.”