Notes from my Minivan: More Than a “Like”

From the Editor

I spend a lot of time in my minivan driving four kids here and there, there and here. It’s one of the few places where I can actually think, sometimes. These are my thoughts, scribbled on napkins and receipts—a look into raising kids and living in Lake County.

Note: all opinions belong to me and only me and do not reflect those of our advertisers, partners, or other writers.

notes from my minivan

I often hear questions, complaints, lamentations, etc.  Why isn’t there a _______ fill in the blank; pool, cafe, bookstore, arts center, kids’ play place, etc., etc. in my city, town, Lake County.  In the last year, we have seen the closing of:

Monkey Joe’s {Lake Zurich}
Pump it Up {Gurnee}
Nibbles Play Cafe {Wheeling}
The Painted Penguin {Vernon Hills}
Serpent Safari {Gurnee}
Stay 2 Play Cafe {Grayslake}
Bounces R Us {Round Lake Beach}
Olly Olly Cafe {Glencoe}

Those are just the ones I know off the top of my head. Some of them were an issue with leases and malls, but others, well, here is the hard truth, parents: it takes more than liking a Facebook page to keep these businesses in Lake County. Oh, it’s important, and we appreciate it, but it doesn’t pay the bills.

If you like a business concept. If you like a facility. You have to use it. Even if there is no Groupon for it. Really. I am just as guilty. I tell myself it’s too expensive, and I’ll go someday.

Someday is now.

It’s time to start closing our computers and opening our wallets before losing any more children’s businesses. It’s time we go out of our way, make an effort to visit those local places we’ve been “meaning to get to.” It’s time we talked to those families running the business and say we love this idea, we would visit more if…It’s time to refocus our energy on getting out and letting businesses know that Lake County parents want them here and support them.

If we don’t, the list of closing’s is only going to grow.

What business do you wish would come to our area? What has closed recently that you miss? Let’s chat in the comments!

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Notes from my Minivan: More Than a \
About Melissa Haak 626 Articles
Melissa is mom to 4. She used to dream of traveling the world, now she dreams of a clean kitchen. She can be found on most social media sites as @PBinmyHair because with this much hair and four kids, you're bound to find something in it.


  1. Another hard truth is that some of them might not be worth saving. I’m not sure about the places on your list, but we don’t always have good experiences at the places we’ve been. So, we don’t go back. Biggest offense for me? Not being open during posted hours.

  2. We love the Round Lake Children’s Museum! I wish that every park district had something similar… $5 for a morning of fun is perfect for my 3 yr old… It’s hard for me to justify spending anymore money than that since we can usually only do something for a few hours anyways…

  3. We miss Stay2Play a lot, too! (Though they know that from us – we were there ALL the time.) I also miss Inflatable Fun World in Volo!

  4. We enjoy Bella’s Bouncies. It helps that it’s a very short drive for us.
    I’m also guilty of wanting to try different places. I personally get bored going to the same places all iof the time

    But to piggy back off of this, it’s the same for other small businesses. Example: I love local coffee shops. Julie’s, something’s brewing, cafe book etc. if I want them to stick around, I need to stop there rather than the convenience of DD or SBux or McDs.

  5. Stay2Play! Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to get the same amount of traffic in Grayslake that it did while it was located in Gurnee. If the drop off care could have happened, it may have helped more moms justify the cost. So disappointed we couldn’t keep them in business.

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