Summer is a business bonanza at the Inflatable Kingdom
by Stephen McDill
Published: June 28,2013
When Brian Sparrow and his team members test their equipment they usually flip a coin to decide who gets the opportunity to bounce around in it.
“Sometimes its rock, paper, scissors,” Sparrow says.
As the owner and operator of Inflatable Kingdom, a space jump and party equipment vendor in Jackson, Sparrow says he finds himself juggling as many as six different parties in a single summer weekend.
“It’s really a big time for us,” he says. “Everybody is out of school, there’s lots of family reunions, fundraisers, class reunions, and birthday parties.”
The company serves Central Mississippi with everything from so-called classic “space jumps” and bouncers to refreshingly cool water slides. Sparrow is also finalizing the purchase of an 80-foot obstacle course and also provides concession rental equipment for snow cones, cotton candy and popcorn.
After finishing an associate marketing degree from Meridian Community College, Sparrow attended Belhaven University in Jackson where he earned a management degree in 2008.
“We had to do a business plan when I was at Belhaven and drew different businesses out of a hat and I just happened to draw a rental business,” Sparrow says.
Sparrow, who as a child wanted to be a lawyer, let the rental idea grow into a franchise that has since grown to 16 units and four part-time employees.
“I prayed about it and let God do it and we got started,” he says. “I never thought three to four years later that we’d be as big as we are.” Sparrow says he wants to eventually expand operations into South Mississippi and Tennessee.
In addition to water slides and generic bounces, Sparrow has a popular line of cartoon-themed licensed units like Disney Princess, Superman, Hello Kitty and Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer. Having recognizable jumps and all the copyrights paperwork to back them up helps give the company an edge over more generic competitors.
In addition to a good time, Inflatable Kingdom guarantees great value, on-time delivery, customer service and most importantly, clean and safe equipment.
Sparrow tells customers that no matter what vendor they choose, they need to make sure the equipment is safe, set up securely and fastened or staked to ground. A series of bounce house accidents across the country last year led to a round of bad press for the industry.
While party vendors like Inflatable Kingdom aren’t required to be certified for safety in Mississippi, Sparrow and his company have all the updated credentials from the Safe Inflatable Operators Association and is the only certified vendor in the area that delivers.
Most standard size floats weigh as much as 250 pounds and guidelines are provided to the customer including weight limitations. Sparrow often checks in on a party site throughout the day but insists that clients be more observant. “Customers need to watch the children the whole time they are there,” he says.
Sparrow attends New Jerusalem Church in Jackson and says he’s gotten lots of mentoring from other business owners at the church. He says he doesn’t rely completely on advertising for business but just maintains good principles.
“We’re starting to get calls about larger events and I want my work to speak for me,” he says. “I’d rather that be my go-getter. We’re not a perfect business but give a high level product at an affordable price. Everybody is not going to be my customer, I just treat them the best I can.”
Affordable pricing, attention to safety and good service keep drawing customers back to the Inflatable Kingdom.
“Its a really good, healthy way to keep your kids busy,” Sparrow says. “Even an hour of play is worth it instead of sitting in front of a video game all summer.”
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