A New York native is giving her small hometown of Spring Hill a place for kids to let their imaginations loose.
Run by JoAnn Romano, Nana’s Tiny Town, is a miniature city museum where kids can pretend to run a bank, shop for groceries and more.
Nana’s Tiny Town is located at 111 S. Main St.
It fills a need in the area
Romano said the idea for the place came from her daughter, Katie Madl, the director of children’s activities at Nana’s Tiny Town, who wanted to give kids a place to play indoors, especially during the exceedingly hot and cold months of the year.
“She said, Oh, mom, there’s no places to play in Spring Hill. We don’t have any,'” Romano said. “I remember when they were little, I took him to [the kid’s play place] Exchange City. So I said, ‘That’s what I want to do.'”
Nana’s Tiny Town is located next to Pop’s
When the shop next to Pop’s Sweet Shop opened up, Romano said she jumped at filling the space.
Romano designed and built the play place, with the help of Tyler Madl, her son-in-law, and Dale.
“I did take early childhood education classes in college, but then I switched and I became an interior designer,” she said. “So this was in my wheelhouse. It was kind of a good combination of both skill sets there.”
The play place is a reaction to technology
While Romano isn’t anti-technology, she said she wanted to give kids a chance to get off their phones and tablets and play.
“There’s a disconnect there with their imagination and socialization,” she said. “So the need all of a sudden became super apparent, and then it became a passion. It was like ‘Oh my gosh. They need this.'”
The place has two separate areas for play time: The front playroom is curated for children from 6 months to 7 years old.
“There’s so many different niches every kid finds their own and then disappears into that world,” Madl said.
There’s also a backroom for older kids and their parents to build LEGO and play board games.
The next focus is special events
Romano said one of Nana’s Tiny Town’s goals is to build and foster a community.
It recently established a curriculum and enrichment classes for little kids. It also has club nights, like board game and LEGO events, for children and adults. It’s also looking to have a parents’ night out on Fridays to give them some much-needed social time.
“It’s really nice, the connection that’s happening,” Romano said.
Nana’s Tiny Town is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. It is closed on Sunday.