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Jason Shoup of PlayLab indoor playground.

It Takes a Village

1021 E Walnut St #100, Pasadena, CA 91106


SBDC Helps Pasadena’s Best Indoor Playground Reach New Heights

Thoughtfully designed by early childhood and play experts, PlayLab is a creative, indoor playspace for infants and young children that also offers programs and social events for new and expecting parents.

During the early months of motherhood, Carrie Shoup realized how isolating and challenging the transition can be. She wanted to create a place that fostered a sense of community, where parents and kids felt supported and could also have fun. After researching several play centers, Carrie and Jason Shoup decided to open PlayLab.


Soon after opening PlayLab, Carrie and Jason contacted their local Small Business Development Center, hosted at Pasadena City College, about a variety of business concerns including business planning, marketing, HR, and competitive analysis.


SBDC Business Advisors Albert Napoli and Andrew Cohen provided guidance about their business model, marketing plans, and an analysis of their competition. Next, the couple met with Don Loewel about their pricing model as well as their business and market development strategies. From those discussions, a pricing strategy was created that focused on providing value to clients. For digital and social media marketing insights, they consulted Wade Eck.

Business Advisor Mary Stewart offered guidance on California’s HR laws and government regulations. She also provided the Shoups with information on a government program that would subsidize their employee’s payroll for up to eight months. Since the Shoups were planning on opening a second location, Business Advisor Lori Williams provided direction on accounting and financial management. They discussed the option of buying a building versus leasing, as well as the necessary funding.


Since May 2017, over 4,000 families have visited PlayLab, and Carrie and Jason have hired 3 full-time and 3 part-time employees. Sales grew 50% in year 2, and are forecasted to grow 20% in year three. Carrie and Jason credit the Pasadena SBDC business advising team with helping them overcome business challenges many areas and achieve growth.

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