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WESTFIELD: “It is quite interesting to me,” says Keith Petersen of The Eardly T. Petersen Company in Westfield, “that kids can almost instantly find – even in a new-to-them environment – the exact place in that environment in which they want to play.”

“Two years ago,” continued Mr. Petersen, “my wife and I were shopping for new kitchen cabinets and visited a store in which the owner had thoughtfully set up an area in which the kids could play and be occupied while the parents could shop as unhinderedly as possible (“John! don’t sit on that – it belongs to the man!”). Being, ourselves, parents (and “great parents”, I always tell my daughter – to the accompaniment of her rolling nine-year old eyes) we were appreciative of the play area that had been created.”

“At that point,” says Mr. Petersen, “I knew that we needed to have the same type of play center in our own store here in Westfield. A lot of our customers are Moms with (younger) children and it is a distraction for them to shop and try to keep track of the kids at the same time. So, two months ago (finally!) we set up and furnished an entire area designated as (it even has its own sign) “Kid Friendly Corner”.”

“This has proven to work very well,” states Mr. Petersen. “It was fun to do and it is intriguing to see the kids find this corner – even without any direction that it exists. A little exploration as kids will do and “Voila” – they are ensconced in the “Kid Corner” while the parents can shop. We furnished the area with a comfortable rug, a complete play kitchen, a desk and chair with crayons and coloring books, a toybox with toys, etc. We “test-marketed” the toys with our own kids first – they still head over to the Kids Corner when they come into the store.”

“We are able to maintain the hygiene and cleanliness of this area,” concludes Mr. Petersen, “as we vacuum with sealed-system Miele vacuums and sanitize with our LadyBug Dry Steam Vapor Cleaning System. I have always disliked typical toy/play areas in fast-food restaurants, baby-sitting centers, etc. as they absolutely are distribution centers for every little kid’s cold or flu germs!”

The Eardly T. Petersen Company’s devious kid magnet can be viewed and used at 224 Elmer Street in Westfield – call 908-232-5723 for reservations (just kidding).