In the spring of 2020, Jessica Sharp’s wedding decoration store Old New & Something Blue was struggling to survive.
The resale store had only just gained momentum when the pandemic broke out, resulting in major events being scaled back or canceled immediately, effectively eliminating their customer base.
“We really weren’t sure how long this was going to take or how bad it was going to get, but I wasn’t ready to let go,” said Sharp. “I couldn’t commit to closing ONSB until I figured out what else I was going to do.”
Rather than collapsing the business, Sharp decided to roll over her sales online and completely re-think what she could offer the community as a small business owner. And within two months of ONSB’s closure, it reopened its storefront as The Family Room, a splash of color where individual families can get messy and relax in a safe environment.
“It’s low-tech, but I enjoy it so much. I’ll sit out here and just hear a giggle,” said Sharp, a North Acronym native who graduated from North High School and Walsh University.
Sharp first came up with the idea for a splatter painting room last summer when she was trying to find a safe way to celebrate her and her niece’s birthdays.
“We couldn’t party the way we usually do, so I was trying to come up with fun ideas. I was looking for something messy and funny because I’m the aunt and it drives mothers crazy,” Sharp said. “She turned 12 and couldn’t have any friends, so I came up with the idea to paint splatter.”
Sharp built a makeshift booth in a back yard, bought canvases and paint, and had fun with her niece all day.
Meanwhile, she received disapproval after disapproval for public and private funding, and was overwhelmed by her wedding inventory and lack of sales.
“But I kept coming back to that splatter thing and how much fun we had,” Sharp said. “I started doing research and it turns out there is nothing in the area that has this type of family entertainment. I think in the normal world I wouldn’t have thought of opening this place because I feel like would have had that there wasn’t enough space, but it’s actually perfect for now. “
The shop, which was once filled with linens, dishes, and centerpieces, is now largely empty, so Sharp can easily convert it for various themed events, such as the recent visit to Santa Claus, where individual families could book 10-minute private sessions.
And then there is the splatter room.
Sharp explained that when families walk in, they are given protective gear, canvases, and paint before going into a small room where they can throw paint on the canvas, wall, or each other.
“I close the door behind you and you have the best time. Every family that leaves here is so excited,” she said.
At $ 60 per 45 minutes, the Splatter room is especially popular with larger families looking for affordable entertainment and those looking for a change of scene after spending several months in their homes.
While Sharp is currently marketing the Family Room as single-family entertainment, she believes the company is flexible enough to adapt to a post-pandemic world.
“Once it’s safe and there’s a general level of comfort, I could have more individual sessions at the same time, or have painting and main room sessions at the same time,” Sharp said.
She said she would also like to expand to multiple locations, allowing multiple individual sessions at the same time, and having painting room and main room sessions held at the same time. Customers have also suggested a rage room where adults can smash items, dye ties, and a portable version for summer parties.
“I think there are a lot of options here,” she said. “And you know, deep down in my soul I firmly believe that this is a lot more suitable for me. While I’m sad that ONSB is technically in the Fail category, I’m very happy with where it has taken me.”
The family room is located at 4299 Kent Road, Suite 5, Stow. For more information, visit https://www.familyroomentertainment.com or call 330-593-4001.
Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, email@example.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.