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Carrie Bingham and Taelor Allen: Entrepreneurs Who Don’t Monkey Around!

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You’re in the checkout aisle and your child shrieks about wanting the latest action figure. Not for a few seconds but for far too many melt-down minutes. Judgmental stares and hateful looks are launched your way. Is the woman in the next aisle using her cell phone to alert the authorities to parental abuse? You want to crawl into a hole and hide.

Looks like you and your pint-size tormentor need a day at Little Monkey Bizness in Shawnee, Kansas, a place to let kids monkey around and yell all they want.

“You can come here, have a gourmet coffee and watch your kids scream their heads off. No one will judge you,” claimed Taelor Allen, manager. “You can let them go bananas. We take pride in a clean and safe environment here. Little Monkey Bizness is your birthday party destination center, open seven days a week.”

Creating Family Fun
Little Monkey Bizness is a parent’s dream, a concept in children’s amusement where kids can release all their pent-up energy and Mom can enjoy a blissful state. With colorful, interactive and exciting play structures of all shapes and sizes, kids will never get bored of climbing, bouncing, swinging, sliding and many other activity-driven adventures. To make your visit even more wonderful, Little Monkey Bizness offers a café with treats and gourmet coffees.

“Basically, we’re an open play and birthday party facility, seven days a week, for crawlers to seven-year-olds,” shared Carrie Bingham, owner. “We take the hassle out of having a birthday party. In fact, we supply everything but the cake. We try to cover all the bases: pizza, drinks, party favors and more. And you don’t have to worry about the weather.”

It’s rumble in the jungle for kids at Little Monkey Bizness, an indoor playground for the active child. Carrie and Taelor know active play is critical for children. In a time when technology mesmerizes little minds, engaging in active play can be difficult. But Little Monkey Bizness entices kids to exercise by having fun, packed as it is with inflatables, slides, toddler and infant areas, jungle gyms, play structures and more.

Little Monkey Bizness came about some time ago as Carrie was developing her entrepreneurial skillset. She moved to Shawnee about 20 years ago from Phoenix, where she had met her husband. They came to the Midwest to take care of his elderly parents, with the idea to eventually return to Arizona. But they never moved back. She’s been an entrepreneur for a good portion of that time in the KC metro.

Expanding a Family Business
“When I first learned of Monkey Bizness, it seemed like a simple concept and would go over very well,” remarked Carrie. “Then I gave my kids a call to see if they wanted to be involved. My son helped me open Olathe, Taelor wanted to be a part of Shawnee and my husband took care of the books. Taelor is the day-to-day face you see at Little Monkey Bizness. I wanted to open the business but not take on the day-to-day operations.”

In 2008 she started with a 25,000-square-foot site at the Great Mall in Olathe, Kansas, called Monkey Bizness, for kids of all ages. It was so successful she opened a smaller location, less than 9,000 square feet, called Little Monkey Bizness in Shawnee, focused only on younger kids.

Her daughter, Taelor, has been running Little Monkey Bizness since the start. After graduating from Northwest High School in Shawnee, Taelor headed to Arizona State University for a business degree, which she earned in 2009. Together, the mother and daughter duo are the face of the business. In fact, Carrie was the first franchisee of the Monkey Bizness concept, which was created in Denver, Colorado.

“We opened Little Monkey Bizness on Black Friday in 2009,” laughed Taelor. “The place was packed with dads and kids so moms could do the shopping.”

“We had both locations running until Great Mall closed, and then we had to pull out on April 30, 2015,” recalled Carrie. “It was very popular, and we tried to find another suitable facility with the square footage that we needed. But the numbers just didn’t work.”

All About Play
So now the focus is on Little Monkey Bizness, catering to the youngsters. “Parents get in free because parental supervision is required. Kids pay a one-time admission and stay as long as they like. We have a crawler section, which is segregated from the rest of the kids,” noted Taelor. “We offer i-Play, interactive video games that project from the ceiling onto a mat and the kids play together. There are an inflatable slide, jungle gym, swings, ropes and mazes, slides and so much more. Kids leave very tired.”

Taelor notes that Little Monkey Bizness offers several different packages to meet everyone’s needs. “Our $149 party package gives you an open play party, which means we are open to the public and you can have a party during regular business hours, Monday through Friday and Sunday. Your group gets an hour of play time and 30 minutes in a spacious private party room for cake and ice cream,” she added. “This includes 12 kids with the 13th being the birthday child.”

She also points out that the other popular offering is the $179 party package, which is a booking on Saturdays from noon to close or Sundays 4:00 p.m. to close. Both are closed to the general public, making the get-together semi-private. Designated party hosts will help clean up and set up for you.

While the success of Little Monkey Bizness is evident, the work behind the scenes to make it so has been a long time in preparation. “I’ve been a business entrepreneur for over 30 years, focused on community involvement. I always want to give back,” commented Carrie. “We host the Shawnee Chamber in our café and participate in sharing donations with silent auctions. It opens doors and means more to me than the business side of things.”

Accumulated Wisdom
When asked about the secret to their success, Carrie and Taelor point to different aspects of their business lives. “People ask me how I can do everything I do. Well, I have an awesome staff around me, and Taelor is a big part of it. But the most important part is to be really organized and to keep my tribe around me,” shared Carrie. “And you can’t be a controlling person. Let people help you and work with you.”

“I always try to work with employees’ strengths and not their weaknesses. When I find someone who’s amazing at cleaning but not so much interacting with customers, I put them into cleaning positions,” she advised. “The work here is a hands-on job; we show them and then have them do it.”

“Taelor works very well with her employees,” added Carrie. “Some start in the 10th grade and continue on with us and even come back during college breaks to help out.”

For other female entrepreneurs, Carrie offers seasoned advice. “I have a business card with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that says, ‘You must do the things you think you cannot do.’ No matter if the road ahead looks scary, I continue on,” she said. “I surround myself with successful and like-minded women and even those who have failed because you can learn from them. In fact, there isn’t anything that I need or want that I can’t call someone for help. I’m always connecting people and I think that action comes back around. Sure, it’s not always a bowl of cherries, but when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.”

“As an entrepreneur, you don’t have anyone to ask on staff so you need others to reach out to for help,” Taelor revealed. “When you own something, there’s a different pride because it’s your baby. The learning experience is priceless. You’re learning how to manage people and the psychology of managing people. I pride myself on offering constructive criticism to our employees, especially when complaints or concerns are made aware to us. We take that as a positive and not a negative because we want to improve and see the employee improve as well.”

Going Beyond
While Carrie is deeply involved in the community, she’s also honing her business approach in a new endeavor. She’s on the path to developing Shadow Scout, a patent-pending device that’s focused on preventing Alzheimer’s sufferers from wandering away, delivering comfort for caregivers and safety for the patient. Initially, she developed the concept as a way to watch children, but now it’s morphed into something more.

The Shadow Scout is a small electronic monitoring device worn by the patient; it can reduce the risk for injury or death and enhance independence and wellness for people with Alzheimer’s. Carrie’s invention has the potential to serve many patients and caregivers and reduce rates of institutionalization and stress. The Shadow Scout will also help protect small children and individuals with intellectual disabilities. Carrie is working with the KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center to obtain funding for the Shadow Scout.

“I immersed myself in the Alzheimer’s community and educated myself on the disease,” she shared. “Unfortunately, we’re in for a ‘silver tsunami’ in the next few years. We can keep people alive longer, but we’re slow to work on how to deal with their dementia. The Shadow Scout can keep them at home as long as possible.”

Carrie’s happy to focus on the opposite ends of the age spectrum when it comes to her customers. From babies to senior citizens, she offers one fun play time and the other more time to remain in their home. But for Carrie and Taelor, the only monkey business they’re interested in is what’s happening on the floor of their successful business endeavor. Together, this mother and daughter duo doesn’t take monkeying around lightly at all.

Read more at or on Facebook at LittleMonkeyBiznessShawnee.