In Waldorf, Md., two sisters are trying to create a business model that has seldom been seen in the Washington, D.C. area. Regina Bethea, 45, and Dorthy Cayard, 49, are the principle owners of Laugh Out Loud Stations, a place where the entire family can have fun.

The concept for the business was born out of the two sisters being unhappy with what they were doing. Cayard, who enjoyed planning parties for children, said one day the sisters decided to start having fun again.

“I was doing my sister’s grandchild’s birthday party. I planned it out and everyone had a good time,” Cayard said. “After the party, my sister and I were sitting at a table in a ho-hum kind of a spirit. I said, ‘I wish I could do this all of the time.’”

When Bethea responded with a simple “why not,” the sisters realized they’d found their path. However, putting that business together proved to be a lot more difficult than they both imagined.

Finding space, finding partners, finding lenders and obtaining the proper permits all proved to be difficult. The sisters prayed on everything and in the end, everything came up roses for them.

The 16,000 square foot site the sisters originally wanted fell through, but instead they got a 28,000 square feet site. They found business partners in family and friends.

And, in conjunction with Bill Hitte of the Southern Maryland Small Business Development Center, they were able to create a business plan.

After two banks denied them for a loan, CommerceFirst Bank finally approved the sisters for a loan. And after working diligently with the Charles County government, the sisters received the permits they needed to proceed.

Finally, on Christmas Day 2009, Laugh Out Loud Stations opened and the sisters have been trying to keep that momentum going ever since.

Part of that momentum has been their ability to get all age ranges involved with the atmosphere. Unlike some of its larger rivals—Chuck E. Cheese, a place strictly for children, and Dave & Busters, a place for adults—LOL Stations provides entertainment for everyone.

“We try to accommodate all age ranges for fun play here,” Cayard said. “We promote family play. We wanted to do something where all family members could play together and that’s why we have things like our balladium and laser tag.”

The facility even has what the sisters have termed the “Daddies Corner” where fathers can go to watch the game on flat screen, high-definition television.

While LOL stations does strive to have a family atmosphere and offer adult nights with such acts as go-go legend, Chuck Brown and radio personality Chris Paul; it’s abundantly clear that kids are having the most fun at the facility.

From the arcade games, to the spider mountain slide, to the laugh-a-lot jungle gym, to the party options, the facility has many ways to ensure that children enjoy themselves. Even though the facility is only a little over 6 months old, the sisters are still looking for additional options for children as well.

“We’re coming up with different games to try to put in here. We’ve been trying them out to see how they would fit,” said Cayard. We’ve been doing the same thing with packages. We’re trying to figure which packages would fit everybody’s needs.”

LOL Stations is located at 3241 Plaza Way in Waldorf. Visit www.lolstations.com for more details.

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO