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Business Observer Friday, Dec. 20, 2019 2 months ago

Area entrepreneur shifts model, jumps on family entertainment idea

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Behind some fast success, big growth opportunities await for Jumpin Fun Inflata Park.
by: Grier Ferguson Sarasota-Manatee Editor

When customers walk into Jumpin Fun, they’re met with a sea of bright red and blue high-gloss vinyl. The inflatable adventure park covers 15,000 square feet and includes dodgeball, battle beams, wipeout balls, moon bounce, eight-person meltdown — and don’t forget the giant mega-slide. Tracks for a 250-foot zip rail coaster are mounted overhead.

From his office some feet away, Brett Morrow says he sits back on Saturdays and is blown away by how many customers are there. It reaffirms his decision to make a big change.

Morrow launched the Lakewood Ranch-based business in 2013 as a trampoline park. After six solid years — and after a complete transformation — it recently reopened as Jumpin Fun Inflata Park. The switch for Morrow, a long-time entrepreneur who once owned a window business, among other entities, reaffirms a key business lesson: Always be open to change models or concepts — even with something successful. 

Going from trampolines to inflatables also came as Morrow and business partner Marc Rosenthal saw more competition enter the market. They decided to focus on inflatables after seeing the family entertainment concept’s success in Europe and the lack of similar businesses in the U.S.

"Instead of competing for the same trampoline park admission," Morrow says, "it made sense to innovate and separate and be a one-of-a-kind product in the Sarasota-Manatee market.”

So far, they’ve experienced big gains with the new concept. The first two months saw 15,000 admissions, and admissions were up 115% during September and October compared to the same months in 2018. People have come for day trips from Gainesville, Orlando and Naples. With favorable numbers already adding up, more inflatable park locations are in the works.

Morrow and Rosenthal decided to make a change soon after they heard more trampoline park competition was on its way. They studied European inflatable businesses, finding they had been well received. “The industry is in its infancy,” Morrow says. “When we saw there were going to be three trampoline parks, that was going to be pure cannibalization of the market. The inflata park would set us apart and give community a new option of fun.”

Port Charlotte-based Galaxy Multi Rides, a manufacturer, handled the conversion to an inflatable park. The tombstone went in the ground for the trampoline park Aug. 11. On Aug. 30 — less than a month later — a soft launch was held for the new concept. “It was very quick,” Morrow says. “Every subcontractor and every piece of pie worked like clockwork to be able to turn it around that quickly.”

In addition to reworking the physical space, he teamed up with Bennie Barton of Marketing By Design in Sarasota on new branding, including a logo, website, T-shirt and wristband. Morrow, who declines to disclose the cost of the transformation, also increased staff from 50 part-time employees to 70.

“Instead of competing for the same trampoline park admission, it made sense to innovate and separate and be a one-of-a-kind product in the Sarasota-Manatee market.” — Brett Morrow, president, Jumpin Fun Inflata Park

Since reopening as an inflatable park, open admissions and birthday parties have spiked. Bookings have also come from corporate team building and staff outings, along with office Christmas parties.

Birthday parties are a big part of business. Jumpin Fun can host six parties at a time, and in September and October, it hosted 250 birthday parties. Parties provide volume and introduce new clients who might come back and buy open admission tickets.

“The big season when we make hay is when kids are out of school,” Morrow says. That’s when Jupmin Fun offers summer memberships and groups from camps come on field trips. “The other nine months of the year it’s a birthday party business being complemented by open admissions,” he says.

Morrow set out to create an experience for a variety of customers. There’s a Candyland area for toddlers, an adult night for people 18 and older, and near the inflatable area, there’s cafe seating, couches and massage chairs where people can sit, eat a slice of Jet’s Pizza, drink a Circus City IPA and watch television.

Off his success in Lakewood Ranch, Morrow next plans to bring inflatable parks to Pinellas, Hillsborough and Lee counties. Pinellas will come first and the other counties are in the company’s 12-month timeline. To open the additional locations, the investment will vary from $500,000 to $1 million each. “We felt those three areas made sense for us for logistics and being able to manage operations,” he says. “The first one to put a tent peg in those markets wins.”

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