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Playful entrepreneurs expand children’s playhouse empire out of Gananoque

Ontario East

 

Until he and his business partner opened their new children’s playhouse business in 2010, Brian Wooding took painstaking care to ensure all the houses he built were perfectly even and square.

No longer.

Now he and Gananoque business partner Ted Glover are doing their level best to ensure all the structures they build for their business are charmingly crooked.

Wooding and Glover have partnered with the Windham, Maine-based children’s playhouse company Kids Crooked House to open a Canadian operation that licenses, makes, and distributes “crooked” playhouses across Canada.

“After 20 plus years running a custom home building business, I look forward to losing my level and building houses a little crooked,” Wooding said when the business opened in 2010.

Wooding said he and Glover were attracted to the idea of running the Canadian operation because they liked the idea of helping children play, which is key to every child’s emotional, physical, and social wellbeing.

“Like when building a home, a child’s foundation is the first and most important part of the development,” Wooding said.

Kids Crooked House was founded by fun-loving American dads Glen Halliday and Jeff Leighton. They couldn’t find the types of playhouses they had in mind for their own children; they were either too expensive or they looked like tool sheds.

In 2009, The Learning Channel profiled Kids Crooked House. Wooding saw the show and knew there was big potential for the houses in the Canadian market.

In 2010, Wooding and Glover brought their Crooked Houses to the Ottawa Home Show and received an enthusiastic response: parents were just as excited to play in he structures as their children.

Business is now booming and Wooding and Glover have since opened three Canadian distributorships: two others in Ontario and one in New Brunswick.

New products have also been added, such as two sizes of doghouse and other styles of playhouse.

Pam Staples, Gananoque’s Cultural and Heritage Coordinator, says Kids Crooked House is a superb addition to the town’s growing creative economy and it has captured the imagination and creativity of all ages.

“The Town of Gananoque is striving to enhance its creative economy and build upon its assets to ensure a thriving, vibrant community,” Staples says. “Kids Crooked House reflects the vision of a creative economy and has developed a successful business model that benefits their business and the community.”

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