Life just got a little sweeter for young families in the Kingston area. On Friday, Apr. 5, 2019 Shop & Play Café, a multipurpose storefront, opened its doors on Gardiners Road. Encouraging imaginative free play for little ones, this shop is the first of its kind in Kingston.
“Shop & Play Cafe has been in the design phase for several years. I’ve always wanted to have my own family-themed storefront where I can bring all my interests together,” said owner Carrie Armstrong.
“Having friends with young children who are always looking for something to do, I’ve observed, over the years, the need for a place where families can hang out, let their kids be kids, enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea, and not worry about leaving the mess behind. Our play areas and cafe have a back to basics theme. The toys we have made available help encourage manners and sharing.”
Along the wall of the reception space is a small area featuring wares from local artists and makers, as well a few favourite brands used in the shop. Gift ideas, cleaning products and artisanal items like cards and décor feature here, and Shop & Play Café is happy to take specific orders. There is also a shop area on their website for you to pre-order your favourites and pick them up in the shop during your next visit.
The café is beautiful. A small play area is available in the café space, as well as tables and chairs, and a couch for lounging on. Treats are made fresh daily – the baked goods are favourite family recipies – and the coffee is locally sourced. I was told they’ve had some people drop in just for a coffee to go!
Families with small children can drop in, or book a time, to enjoy the new play spaces. Shop & Play Café also offers birthday party packages, and will be hosting activities for older children and adults.
The activity studio is available for all customers during play time, and will be themed each week. While I was there they were having spring week – you could plant a few seeds in a pot to take home and grow. After hours, this studio will be used for other activities. The first workshop is a make-your-own bath bombs, scheduled for Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2019 at 4pm. See the activity calendar here.
“In our community space, we are partnering with local individuals who will offer workshops that teach life skills, like how to sew,” Armstrong shared with me. “We will also offer old school crafts, such as knitting and crocheting. We used to learn simple things like this from our parents or grandparents, but it’s not as common anymore, and I would like to see that come back.”
Shop & Play Café is the perfect spot to arrange a playdate with other parents. Parents and caregivers play for free, while there’s a small fee for the children. The space is geared for children 0-6 years old, and children under 12 months get in free.
They have had a great soft opening so far. Plans are in the works for a Grand Opening Day on Saturday, Apr. 27, 2019. While they are planning some surprises, I was told there will be gift baskets to win, and lots of treats and fun to be had!
“It’s been exciting to see everything come together,” Armstrong said fondly. “I am so thankful for all the support my husband, kids, family and friends have offered me during this process – I’m grateful for all the support from the community, local businesses, and new faces too!”
Visit Shop & Play Café at 838 Gardiners Rd. They are open Monday to Saturday 9am to 3pm. It is recommended to call ahead for play time. Visit their website to find out more about the back-to-basics play space.
Jessica is a busy working mom and writer who enjoys covering local interest stories, and creating content for her own website A Modern Mom’s Life. She loves living, working, and playing in Kingston. You can see what she gets up to with her family on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!