Large, interactive play area opens inside Eastern Hills Mall: ‘When we’re playing, we become creative’

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CLARENCE, N.Y. (WIVB) — You’ll forget all about the recent snow that fell at a new, interactive place to play. A toy store, inside the Eastern Hills Mall, expanded and created Raff’s Playland.

“When we’re playing, we become creative, we use our imagination,” Kim Nelson said, the owner of Raff and Friends toy store. “There are no batteries.”

Nelson started planning the 3,500 sq ft play area about a year ago. And there’s something for every kid, inside.

“We had a golden retriever who died of heart disease years ago,” Nelson said. “It was my son’s favorite dog, and I was asking my daughter, ‘What should we name our animal hospital?’ She said, ‘Why don’t you name it after Chase?'”

‘Chase Animal Hospital’ is for the child who loves animals. There’s also a grooming station inside. The park inside comes with a duck pond and matching game. A reading nook is for those who want to relax next to a real-working fireplace. The fire truck has an extendable hose, and the police station is incredibly detailed.

“Did you see the donuts in the police station?” Nelson asked. “There are donuts in there.”

A mini Duff’s Restaurant is even there, where you can make your own pizzas, and of course, order as many wings as your heart desires.

And Hart’s Market is a child’s dream. It’s named after Kim’s grandmother, who had a grocery store attached to her house. Inside the market, there are mini shopping carts, a handmade stove by Nelson herself, hundreds of food items, an electronic checkout station, and more. It also includes a fishing area, where kids can catch fish, count them, and then buy them.

Come March, there will be a party room there for birthdays. Nelson said Raff’s Playland is geared toward kids who are two years old, to about eight or nine years old. And cleanliness is key.

“When a child puts a product in their mouth, we ask the parent to put it in the ‘yuck’ bucket to be cleaned.”

It’s $10 for kids to go inside, and $5 for adults. There are also packages that families can buy. No food or drink is allowed in, and Kim asks people to bring clean, dry sneakers to play in.

But there aren’t many rules. The register inside the market is the only items you’ll find that’s electronic… the rest is up to children to power and create.

“We tried to make it as real, but fun as possible,” Nelson said.

Raff’s Playland opens to the public with a ribbon cutting on Saturday, February 8 at 10:30 a.m.

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