In Sept. 5 IssueBy Derek AaronRussell County News Editor
The Mini Indy Kart Track Family Fun Center in Jamestown has been treating families and special groups to memorable experiences, fun times and clean facilities for more than eight years now, according to owner Lora Sales.
Sales said the eight years of operating Jamestown's first family fun center have flown by.
“It just seems like yesterday,” she said of her business's opening. “We've always been in this type of a business.”
She said her husband, Mike, grew up in the video game and arcade business in Indiana as his father had opened up a similar business in 1947.
“We branched out on our own about 18 years ago,” she said of her and her husband. Sales said her and her husband currently have the game room contract, and have for 18 years, for Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
So how did the family end up here?
The Sales, originally from Indiana, bought a vacation home in Russell County nearly a decade ago.
“We knew we were going to start (a fun center) but we just didn't know where,” she said. Upon some consideration among the family, the Sales decided to buy the land on US 127 near Fruit of the Loom and put in a miniature golf course, mini-Indy race track and arcade right here in Jamestown.“We saw a need for a place for families and kids in Russell County,” she said. “250 loads of dirt just for the go-cart track.”
She said the Mini-Indy track and the miniature golf course were the biggest hits among the center's faithful.
“Everybody has the need for speed,” she said. Sales said her location was a prime location for local birthday parties, and church and school groups.
“We make a really great deal for the church and school groups where they can rent the go-carts by the hour,” she said. “They have a great time.”
And despite a downturn in the economy, Sales said her business hasn't been hit too hard by the recession this summer.
“It's been down a little bit but I think, looking around the county, the tourists aren't here,” she said. “But we've had such great support from the local population that we really haven't felt it as bad as I prepared for.”
She said the people that have shown up have given a boost to the center's two outside activities, but that what is on the inside is also very popular among patrons.
“Our game room does fabulous since Mike is an expert at it,” she said. “We can keep a fresh rotation of games since we have such a large inventory of games up north.”
Sales said the NASCAR and batting cages simulators were two of the most popular.
“We have a lot of games that you won't find anywhere else,” she said. “The thing that we hear the most is how clean, how big and how much we have to offer and I think that's largely attributed to the fact that we were probably one of the first non-smoking facilities in the county.”
She said when her and her husband first started the center they had young children and they didn't want them to be exposed to anything unhealthy.
“Any given Friday or Saturday night, you'll find all of us up here working,” she said of her, her husband and her two children, Zach and Brooke, both now in high school.
She said since the center is family operated, she always knows where her children are.
“I think it has done wonders for my kids, seeing what is involved in running a business and preparing them for adulthood,” she said.
Sales said it was the people of the county that kept her business going. She said just last Tuesday she ran the go-carts for a young girl who had never ridden them before and that she could see the joy in the child's eyes and hear it in her laughter.
“That's why we get up and do it everyday,” she said.
Sales said the center has a full line of concessions that include new Southern Belle Dairy soft serve ice cream, which has had a fabulous response.
“It is the best tasting and creamiest ice cream you'll ever have,” she said.
Among the other selections are popcorn, nachos, hot dogs, made-to-order pizzas, hot pretzels, cotton candy, slushies, Pepsi products, ice cream specialty treats and pucker powder, a favorite among local school groups.
After this weekend the Mini Indy Kart Track Family Fun Center, return to their winter hours, opening at 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Fridays, noon until 9 p.m. on Saturdays and noon until 7 p.m. on Sundays.
This weekend, though, the center will open at noon and be open later due to the Labor Day holiday weekend.
“Plus we are always open the entire week of fall break and spring break,” she said. “We'll continue to do the birthday parties and go-carts and miniature golf all the way through winter, weather permitting,” she said.
The family fun center can be reached at 270-343-5533.