DANVILLE — A new addition at the Village Mall in Danville will be something for kids of all ages and for families to make memories, says the business owner.
Family First Inflatables presents The Jump Off coming to the Village Mall.
Owner Alvarez “Mr. A” Dixon said he hopes to open the indoor fun center, possibly by mid-July.
Dixon started his bounce house business in Champaign in 2015, and has recently moved to Danville.
He has a youth development background, having most recently worked through the University of Illinois as a 4-H educator for about eight years and then 4-H state specialist for three to four years serving Champaign and Vermilion counties.
So Dixon said he’s familiar with local youth programs, such as at Laura Lee Fellowship House, the Danville Family YMCA and Boys & Girls Club.
Dixon has more than 20 years experience in youth development, including running a youth center.
“If it was involving kids, I did it,” he said. Dixon also is a father.
In taking a trip to Uganda, he realized he needed a change in life. Instead of having the bounce house business on the side, he wanted to focus more on it and his education.
“I’m always visioning,” Dixon said. “This is a pivot in how we operate.”
He said business picked up mid-last year during the coronavirus pandemic, with people renting inflatables.
“We’ve grown every year, little by little...,” he said.
He was looking for a challenge and it was suggested he look in Danville to grow his business to year round. In addition to growing his business, he’s also working toward his PhD in informatics. He’s in his third year at the University of Illinois.
Dixon said he inquired at the Village Mall, and mall property manager Cinnamyn Keith really worked with them.
Mall officials welcome the new tenant.
The Jump Off is located in a former gymnastics space in the mall near the former Carson’s.
Dixon said his business will be more than just bounce houses, but also have a foam dart battle zone and gaming lounge too for video game playing.
He said the business is a merger of a Boys & Girls Club and Chuck E Cheese.
“The goal is more than just bounce houses,” he said.
The vision is a place for the whole family, with adults and children playing together.
“Kids need the opportunities to make memories with adults around them,” he said.
Areas will include basic bounce houses, an obstacle course for little children, competitive inflatables for bigger children with a bungee run, sports area with volleyball and jousting pedestal, and a real life Hungry Hungry Hippos where the goal is to get more balls than your opponent while hooked to a bungee cord.
Another area will be the gaming lounge for virtual reality and multi-player video game playing.
Dixon said people playing video games at home are missing the in-person high-fiving and other interaction playing with their friends.
The back area will be a foam darts battle zone. Nerf activities are popular with children. There will be face masks and equipment provided.
“That’s the idea, to create a space for all families to play,” Dixon said of The Jump Off.
These are activities that parents and kids will enjoy together, he said, adding that VR and other equipment can be too expensive for families to purchase.
It will have open play times, in addition to being able to be rented for birthday parties and other events.
There will be a range of prices, for general admission and group packages. Information will be coming on the business’ Facebook page and website at www.familyfirstinflatables.com.
Dixon said they’ve had to so some wall repairs and they are finishing painting in the mall space.
He said he’s excited to offer The Jump Off to the community, instead of families having to travel elsewhere for something like this.
“My goal is to make this a destination,” Dixon said. “We’re excited to see what will happen. The possibilities are just endless.”
He added he plans to hire teenagers and young adults where they can learn about a good work ethic and customer service.
He hopes to have a ribbon cutting in later July or early August.