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Dealing with grim pandemic is child's play for Orillia company

Operator of indoor playground pivots to 'fun-o-grams' meant to bring joy to kids; 'I think it’s important to keep their morale up and offer them this kind of service'
treetops fun o grams
Treetops Entertainment company staff member Caitlin Laplume packs a plush toy inside a fun-o-gram. The company has shifted its business model from indoor playgrounds to surprise delivery services during the pandemic. Contributed photo.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Treetops Playground & Kids Salon on Progress Drive back in March, it left owner Randy Micallef in a state of dismay.

“I remember staying up till about three in the morning looking at the wall, thinking to myself, what are we going to do?” he said.

The three-year-old business, with locations in both Orillia and Barrie, had no source of income when the doors were closed. The only way for Micallef to keep his business afloat was to start thinking outside the box.

He decided he was going to sell off the balloons and toys that were kept at the indoor playgrounds for birthday parties, and deliver them to children who were stuck at home with no sense of joy.

“The next morning I designed a simple flyer with a selection of the balloons we had and offered a plush toy or a loot bag, stuff that we had in stock,” Micallef explained.

“We put it on social media and honestly, it went crazy. People thought it was so awesome that we were offering something nice to the kids to help cheer them up," he said.

Leading up to Easter, Micallef decided to package together an "Easter fun-o-gram" that included an Easter bunny balloon and candy. In one weekend, more than 140 orders were placed.

“I had no staff because we had to lay off everybody, so it was just my wife and I. We actually had to get a couple of friends to help us out because it just wasn’t possible for us to deliver to all the places who ordered,” Micallef said.

With there no end in sight for the pandemic, Micallef decided it was time to shift the business model from indoor playgrounds, to fun-o-gram delivery services.

Since the success of the fun-o-gram, the business model has evolved.

Now, parents can select a mascot to drop off a fun-o- gram to their child. For parents who want to give their child a special birthday party, the now Treetops Entertainment company offers packages where balloons, birthday decorations, cake, and even a jumping castle can be brought right to their doorstep.

Micallef says the services his company offers to parents and their children are more important now than they were in the past.

“It’s hard for a kid to understand what’s going on in the world to begin with. To explain to them they can’t have a birthday party is really hard. I think it’s important to keep their morale up and offer them this kind of service,” he said.

Despite closing their Barrie location for good, Treetops Entertainment Company has recently re-opened their indoor playground in Orillia, however, Micallef says that side of the business has become secondary to fun-o-grams.

“Because of COVID-19, people are scared and it’s going to be hard to go back to a normal indoor playground business model,” he said.

With Halloween coming up next month, Micallef is shifting his focus to help bring children a trick-or-treat experience right to their home.

Treetops Entertainment Company will be offering a special fun-o-gram that comes with a Halloween-themed balloon, candy, and toy that will be delivered on Oct. 31.

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