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Small Business Owner Judy Doyle Looks for New “Play” Space

Closing her doors of her downtown business, the ubiquitous child advocate searches for other options.

You’ve probably seen the slender, auburn-haired Judy Doyle flitting around town from time to time. When she’s not spearheading the initiatives of the or leading the charge for the , she’s working on building up her vision for a childcare business, which recently took a downward turn when she was forced to close Ms. Judy’s Emporium this September.

A business that Doyle doesn’t want to name, opened its doors a few months after she purchased Blend for Kids, which she re-named Ms. Judy’s, and her clientele began to dwindle. The newer business offered similar recreational options for kids, like classes and birthday parties and it wasn’t long before Doyle said she saw the writing on the wall. “Economic times and people not having cash – that made the difference.”

With her rent costing more than $2,000 a month for the two spaces at 1120 and 1122 Main St., Doyle said she had to decide if it was economically feasible to keep her children’s play center open.

“I had imagined that we would be able to offer classes to parents and children that they weren’t getting anywhere else. Classes based on nutrition, health and social skills.” Ms. Judy’s, she said, was a resource center for parents and children with a focus on play. “I wanted a place for parents to come and bring their kids and relax with them.” Ms. Judy’s, though not a daycare, was a center where parents could stay with children and watch them explore playing and learning through Doyle’s offerings.

Now faced with no home for her center, Doyle is embracing new vision for her business and looking more to the pre-school area with a focus on early learning for her new venture.

Doyle received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education and her master’s degree in education leadership. She has recently started to work on a play rubric, which she hopes will launch her into a PhD program.

Before opening Ms. Judy’s, Doyle was the former director of the now closed Children’s Discovery Center and the afterschool program coordinator for the now defunct Whitewood Pinebrook School. Four years ago, Doyle launched Backyard Adventures, a summer program held annually at the . Doyle also offers special classes like “Something out of Nothing,” which focuses on teaching about recycling, which she instructs at area schools upon request.

Of her new hopes to open a pre-school, Doyle said, “The focus is on integrating play and learning. I really feel that play is a lost art these days. Kids and parents are focused on being prepared for the test and it’s taking away from the learning to play. Kids need to be kids.”

After deciding she would open a pre-school, Doyle had her sights set on occupying 271 Montowese St., (the former democratic headquarters) but the plans fell through; the space is not insured for a daycare and there is not enough fenced-in yard for the amount of kids she hopes to serve. Doyle is actively looking for a space in Branford that is more then 700 square-feet and has enough outdoors space for 75 feet per child with hopes to serve at least 15-20 children ages 3 to 5. Those with potential rentals should contact Doyle at 203-887-2872 or keelyinez22@yahoo.com.

“I think being a small business owner is stressful whether you are reinventing yourself or if you’ve been in business a long time,” Doyle commented. “I think even though the economy is still on the downside,” she said of her future plans, “parents still want quality education for their kids.”

Kathy Rieger November 30, 2011 at 01:57 PM
I wish Judy much success in all of her endeavors. Opportunities for children to play, learn, and be with other children is something greatly needed in our society. I would encourage parents and caregivers to take advantage of the “Family Place” programs at both the Blackstone Library and the Willoughby Wallace Library. “Family Place” is a five week program and features local professionals who serve as resources for parents; emphasizes the role of parents as the first teachers of their children; facilitates early intervention; and teaches strategies for healthy child development and early literacy. We redesign the library environment to be welcoming and appropriate for children beginning at birth; connect parents with the resources, programs and services offered at the library and other family service agencies; and reach out to non-traditional library users. This creates the network families need to nurture their children's development during the critical first years of life and helps ensure all children enter school ready and able to learn. Check the websites of each library for program times. - Kathy Rieger, Library Director, Blackstone Library
Broke Dick Dad November 30, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Judy Doyle is awesome! She's been an incredible asset to Branford's children and parents. I commend her determination, motivitation and entrepreneurialspirit. I strongly believe that a Small Business Incubator in town would help people like Judy launch and SUSTAIN their small businesses (hint hint Mr. DaRos for the BoE building). - A Branford Dad
John November 30, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Judy, After the setbacks listed in the story, I am very inpressed with your determination to move forward and succeed. I wish you the best of luck. With an attitude as positave as your's, you will have your dream.

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