I’m brainstorming on ideas for my concept and was wondering if you all could help. Do you do anything special to draw the moms and their kids during the day? Do you provide a special ‘kids corner’? How do you attract groups (book clubs, knitting, social clubs, etc) throughout the day? Anything you currently do or ideas you’ve had would be much appreciated!

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Hi Devon, I can't speak as a retailer but I know that my wife and I look out for places with 2 things:
1) Clean bathrooms :)
2) Hot Chocolate
What about hosting a book reading once a week or so in the afternoon. Have a staff member or volunteer come in to read a couple childrens books. Maybe offer a discount or size upgrade for participants?
Try have a school night where you give a small percentage of that nights sales to your local school. I have seen this work many times. Let the school know what you are planing and have them send a note home with all the kids saying something like come to Cafe A on Friday night from 7-9 and X percent of sales will be given back to the school. It's a win win for you and the school.
We have a stocked book shelf with story books, coloring books, crayons, games, and cards for kids to use, and a kid friendly atmosphere. It also helps that we have ice cream. But lots of parents appreciate having options for kids to entertain themselves while they meet with friends.
At my shop we have a room that we call "the reading room." It's got a lot of children's books and board games in it. It's also got this sick little see-saw thing from Ikea... i've never seen anyone attempt to use it... but it's still awesome.
We could definitely be considered "kid friendly", and have several mom's groups that meet at our shop regularly. I think this works well for us and am glad we went this route. Here are my thoughts on this idea:

I recommend that you carefully consider how "kid friendly" you want your concept to be and go from there. Kid friendly does mean noisy sometimes, and you will have little control over the "when" and "for how long" so be prepared to deal with some glares from the laptop crowd.

The biggest key is just to be friendly and welcoming to families with kids. Parents, especially of younger kids, are exceptionally well networked and if you make a favorable impression on the right mom the word will get out.

We've found it useful to have a variety of portable and durable kids' activities - checkerboard, books for a range of ages, coloring sheets with WASHABLE crayons, durable cars, a road rug.

Portability is key... kids move around and you want to be able to support a group in any area of your store.

Please do your guests a favor and don't provide toys unless they are easy to clean and you plan to sanitize them regularly. Kids' attention spans are short, so the larger the variety the longer they will play with the stuff you want them too. If bored, they will find other things to do... which can be VERY BAD for your inventory, other customers, windows, etc.

Story time has been popular for us, but needs to be well executed to work. Its harder than it looks!

Offer a kid's drink menu, smaller sizes in cups with lids.

Put changing tables in the restrooms. It lets them stay longer. A couple of highchairs are a good idea too.

Check your acoustical treatments! If you have a very loud space, kiddie time will drive the rest of your customers away. Targeted treatments are only partially effective, cause the loudest kids are the most mobile.

Good luck!
Great responses everyone! Thank-you!

Brady - when you say 'acoustical treatments', what have you done in your shop? Paneling? Flooring?
Some pretty good things to think about and consider.
Devon said:
Great responses everyone! Thank-you!

Brady - when you say 'acoustical treatments', what have you done in your shop? Paneling? Flooring?

I'm not yet totally happy with ours yet, hence the advice to make sure yours is adequate :).

We have a combination of carpeting in many areas, upholstered furniture and burlap coffee bags stuffed with batting and strategically placed and hung. I feel like our biggest problem is that we have a totally open ceiling - no acoustical tiles, just some of those stuffed bags up in the rafters. I'd like to try more of the bags, a couple of full bookcases (dual purpose, right?), some sound-absorbing wall treatments, maybe carpeting on the underside of tables, etc. Gotta knock it down another notch.
the first cafe i worked at had a great kid's corner. it was in the back of the one side of the cafe and had a play mat, a wall with chalkboard paint, books, an activity table and crates of toys. we had some regular stay-at-home mothers who would come in every morning and socialize while they let their kids play. we served mini hot chocolates, too, in our traditional cap cups.
Devon..... I may have to "retract my comments" about this shop, as I just went to their website, and it looks like they have new owners and possibly a re-formated marketing plan? But from a personal visit a couple of years ago, I thought of Sip and Kranz. You can check them out via very descriptive reviews on www.yelp.com These will be reviews from "consumers"...... who will tell you WHY they frequented this shop. (I'd check out the date of the review, as they could be older comments; not reflecting the new ownership?) I went there for a cap' and was very pleasantly surprised. And yes, they had lots of moms and kidlets... and to my delight, they were also serving Stumptown blend. The barista I chatted with was both skilled and knowledgable. On top of all that, they were "swamped" with customers! (1030a) See their website: www.sipandkranz.com This is a great concept, and with forum members suggestions and this shop's story, you have allot of material to review and evaluate. From their website, I get a feeling the new ownership may have changed the personality of the shop, as I don't see any mention of "Kid Friendly?" Well, I was certainly impressed when I visited them. I just called their number, but their "machine" came on. I hate it when that happens.
OK.... so I'm not saying having a "Kiddy Room" inside the shop is good or bad... just found it interesting that the new owners of Sip and Kranz, evident by this review on yelp, may have "dismantled" the child-friendly accomodations. I'm looking at this from a marketing perspective, and now wonder if any of you who currently accomodate parent-child clientel, agree at any level with the following comments from the workers at what was a kid-friendly establishment:

Review Update from www.yelp.com SIP AND KRANZ, PORTLAND OR - 1/24/2009
I wanted a quality brew the other day in between work and mock trial (3 hours of coaching ambitious PSU students who are probably much smarter than me requires some serious espresso) but didn't feel like heading to Stumptown. The little flyers on their counter explaining that there'd be no more playroom pretty much made my day. This is how my conversation with the baristas ensued:

"So you guys are probably pretty stoked about this."
(they look at each other) "Well, formally, we're really upset about it, but secretly...yeah, we're pretty excited."

Will Sip & Kranz be slobber-free now? Probably not, but I think it's safe to say the baby brigade will generally head elsewhere.

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