Today, Kiddie Spas ... Tomorrow, The World!

Sharon Brody: They grow up so fast. Let's make some money off that! (Heather Durdil/flickr)
Sharon Brody: They grow up so fast. Let's make some money off that! (Heather Durdil/flickr)

We now bring you this urgent lifestyle alert from America's newspaper of record:

"The spa industry has begun to target children in a big way, going way beyond mother-daughter manicures. Adult spas are adding separate menus of services for girls, usually ages 4 to 14. In most major cities, there are now dedicated day spas for children, offering a range of massages, facials and other treatments ... The International Spa Association, which tracks industry trends, said that 25 percent of the country’s approximately 20,000 spas now offer services specifically for the under-13 set — up from 15 percent just four years ago ... The spa association’s president, Lynne McNees, said it was good for girls to learn that beauty treatments can reduce stress and promote health. 'It’s very similar to taking little kids to the dentist,' Ms. McNees said. 'Let’s get them early, and get those really good habits.'"

-- The New York Times, January 2, 2015

With the beauty treatment sector duly documented, assignment editors now turn their attention to other enterprises that target miniature customers with separate menus of services.

Our own dedicated newsroom spies have secretly gained access to this file of upcoming dispatches from the front lines of trending. These article excerpts highlight additional options for devoted adults who want to nurture the next generation. Moms and dads with a belief not only in dentistry but also in reducing stress and promoting health can unite behind the cri de coeur: "Let's get them early, and get those really good habits!"

Pubs for cubs

Caitlin Collins pulls up a stool — bright pink and sparkly — and is hoisted onto her perch by a burly tavern assistant (he calls himself a McBouncer — but not around the customers!). Now, the pigtailed kindergartner can beckon for the bartender. "I'll have the regular," she chirps, her snaggletooth grin lighting up the room full of her closest friends and those two weird neighbors her mom made her invite. Since her parents ordered the special $540 birthday party package featuring martinis for the boys, margaritas for the girls and mixed nuts for everybody, the bartender knows just what to do...

Li'l smoker poker

They're like any other second-graders on a field trip — the excitement about a new activity can make them bounce off the walls. And that's why the walls of the Tots 'n' Slots Resort Casino are covered in soft foam padding decorated with pastel unicorns and rainbows. Safety first, when the little ones from the elementary school 200 miles away hop off the deluxe motor coach to start the day right, learning the ins and outs of one armed bandits and table games. "We take our mission very seriously," says Vincent Lazzaro, the Kid Koncierge at Tots 'n' Slots. "We believe that children are our future. From training wheels to roulette wheels! Ante up!"...

Pre-pubescents under the fluorescents

Day jobs aren't just for grownups any more! Youngsters from 3 to 13 — and their moms and dads always on the lookout for fresh birthday party themes — are getting swept up in the latest craze. Salt Mines Fun Times is a burgeoning national chain that offers the Velcro-sneaker set the special opportunity to experience the excitement of the workplace. All SMFT locations feature a maze of fluorescent-lit cubicles and conference rooms; the standard party package includes Find-The-I.T.-Dude and Guess-Who-Leaves-Their-Coffee-Mug-In-The-Restroom-And-How-Gross-Is-That? For an extra fee, the set includes a row of private executive offices so party-goers can play the premium game: "What does that guy DO all day?" But for a lot of kids, the demand is all about supplies.

"They love the sticky notes. The colors, the sizes, the capacity to operationalize," says Tamara Jenkins, the Salt Mines Fun Times Leadership Vice President of Strategic Program Leveraging and Liaison Dynamics. "And we are efforting the value-add of teaching by example. Going forward, those 2-year-olds and 10-year-olds will want to grow up to be just like us!"...

Civic duties for cuties

When Jasmine O'Neill was seeking a new business venture, she joined a nationwide surge. "I was paying attention," she said. "I knew the cutting edge of commerce involved retrofitting an adult pursuit for kids, pretending it is developmentally appropriate, catering to entitled suburbanites, ignoring the populations of stressed families and children facing actual hardship and challenges, and then monetizing monetizing monetizing!" That savvy insight led her to the light-bulb moment when she dreamed up the nation's first Jury Duty Play Land. With franchises in dozens of states, Jury Duty Play Land gives new meaning to the concept of juvenile detention. Party packages offer youngsters the chance to get their own personal index card in the mail ordering them to appear for jury duty at a courthouse at least an hour away by car and not accessible by public transportation on a day it's finally their turn to be the pitcher in kickball. Eight-year-old Chris Miller, surrounded by fellow revelers, is one very satisfied potential juror. "Folding chairs! Look! Folding chairs! We get to wait for I think it's like maybe five hours in one room on folding chairs!"...


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Sharon Brody News Anchor
Sharon Brody is the voice of WBUR's weekend mornings. On Saturdays and Sundays, she anchors the news for Weekend Edition and other popular programs.



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