40 JUNE 2 0 1 8
Mini in the show, who gets in a fight with
her friends, blocks off an area of the playground,
and declares it Mini Land. As Yeh
tells it, she and her husband heard that
scene and said, “Wow, Mini Land! That’s a
really good name! Let’s just use that.” She
went on to explain that they added “Play”
to the name to emphasize that it was a
play place. Thus, Mini Land Play was born.
The first step was finding the space, but
Yeh said she was rejected several times
before she finally met a landlord who was
also from Asia, and she said it felt like they
were family. He didn’t want a restaurant
in his space, and when Yeh explained that
she was launching a children’s business,
he was pleased. “I'm really lucky to find
him,” she said.
Next came the equipment. Since Yeh
knew of so many similar places in Taiwan,
she started by talking to those businesses
and asking where they got their
equipment. Those Taiwan stores then introduced
Yeh to their Japanese manufacturer.
Yeh is also fluent in Japanese, which
came in handy. She ended up ordering all
of her equipment from Japan, which took
two months to arrive by boat.
Yeh said that it took four or five months
to get everything furnished and installed.
“I was paying the rent, and there's nothing
going on in my store ... the whole
time,” Yeh said. “Luckily, all those days
are past, but it was very hard.” And while
she was busy speaking with contractors
and getting everything set up, her husband,
who also has a full-time job, was at
home watching the children. “He's been
very supportive,” she said. “Otherwise I
couldn't do it, and I don't have a nanny,
I don't have family here, so nobody else
can take care of the children."
Fortunately, all of their hard work paid
off, and the equipment was worth the
wait. It’s not your run-of-the-mill McDonald’s
variety, either — in fact, Yeh sounded
almost offended when I mentioned the
playgrounds that many fast food chains
have, which are made of cheap plastic
and easily conduct static electricity. Mini
Land Play has three carousels, a pirate
boat, a ball pit (the kids’ favorite, according
to her), a jumpy house, slides and
even a room to fly balloons around.
“It's a very, very safe place,” Yeh said.
“Everything is very soft.” Indeed, the
floor is covered in foam padding, and the
equipment is comprised of a plush-looking
plastic material, which looks similar to
what inflatable pool toys are made out of.
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