Spokane Journal of Business

Bouncing off the walls

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Bouncing off the walls
-—Staff photo by Treva Lind
Co-owner and General Manager Cody Schueler says Sky High Sports opened the Spokane trampoline facility in December.

A retrofitted warehouse space filled with multiple trampoline courts—for flips, bounces, even dodgeball—draws more than 2,000 people a week to Sky High Sports Spokane LLC just east of downtown.

Sky High Sports opened five months ago at 1322 E. Front in almost 37,000 square feet of leased space that was part of a warehouse previously used by Cascade Seed Wholesale Co. Sky High Sport's co-owner and general manager, Cody Schueler, sees the new business as a family destination, although teenagers tend to fill up the place on Saturday nights.

Sky High Sports Spokane is a franchisee of a California-based chain that features specially designed trampoline floors and connecting trampoline walls, with spring-loaded frames that are covered by two-inch safety pads.

"We want to make this place the dream kid hangout," says Schueler. "We get a lot of teenagers, middle-school kids, a lot of families, and college kids. This is a place where you can bring a 2-year-old, a 15-year-old, and a 50-year-old parent, and you can all participate and have fun."

Among its options, Sky High Sports has a main freestyle trampoline area—about the size of a basketball court—where kids can perform basic bounces, and more experienced jumpers can do flips and twists by taking advantage of both the horizontal and side wall trampoline surfaces.

"You can literally jump off the walls," says Schueler.

Customers also can opt for other activities, such as instructor-led AIRobics exercise classes, or use of a foam pit for twists and jumps from a trampoline platform. The foam pit often draws groups of skiers and gymnasts who practice flips and tricks before landing in the padded area, Schueler says.

Two separate trampoline courts are set aside for dodgeball matches. One of the courts is kept open for general public use, and the other is available for reservation by private groups at $150 for the first hour. The private court gets rented out about twice a week.

"Our dodgeball is really popular," Schueler says. "A court monitor referees the game. We hold dodgeball tournaments once a month with cash prizes, gift certificates, and trophies. It's very competitive. We don't have leagues yet, but we will soon."

The tournaments are open to all ages at $60 per team, for an unlimited number of teams, with the next one scheduled May 12.

Sky High Sports also has a separate trampoline court for ages 8 and under, and it offers two-hour birthday party packages for 10 children that cost up to $250 on weekends.

All courts are monitored by staff trained to watch for safety, Schueler says. Sky High Sports employs 39 part-time workers, although many of them work 30 to 36 hours per week, as well as four full-time managers.

Customers who first walk into Sky High Sports find a large entrance filled with couches, arcade games, and foosball, air hockey, and pool tables. Music plays over the building's sound system. More than 25 arcade games are available near the entrance and along an exterior wall, and Schueler plans eventually to have more than 75 arcade games.

The business also has a snack bar with tables near the entrance, but Schueler is planning to construct a full restaurant setting there within the next two months. "We'll make our own pizza, sandwiches, salads, and have espresso."

Within the next few months, another plan calls for creating an adult lounge seating area with flat screen TVs, for those waiting on kids who would rather rest, read, or watch television. Additionally, the business plans to install a separate console game room with PS3 and Xbox played on large flat screens for tournaments or individual play.

Sky High Sports charges $10 per hour on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays; and $10 for the first hour and $7 for the second hour on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. It also offers Wild Wednesdays that cost $12 for two hours, Munchkin Mondays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $6 per hour, and Homeschool Mondays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., also for $6 per hour.

AIRobic classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as Saturday morning, cost $8 each session.

Sky High Sports is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays; 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; and 11 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Schueler declines to discuss Sky High Sport's revenue or start-up costs. The local franchisee owners—Schueler, his father Jim Schueler, Brian Deller, Mark Moreland, Brett Moreland, and Steve Gorder—also opened one in Portland about a year ago. Cody Schueler says most of the partners know each other from a family business based in Montana, called Rocky Mountain Log Homes, which is owned by his father, and that the group self-financed the Spokane operation.

Other Sky High franchise sites, separately owned, are located in Bellevue, Wash., and in California.

Schueler says he is pleased with the numbers of Spokane customers each week.

"On a busy night, like Saturday, there will be a line of about 100 people consistently," says Schueler. "It depends on the day, but we'll sometimes have over 900 jumpers during the time we're open 11 a.m. to midnight."

Each person must agree to a liability waiver, signed by an adult for anyone under age 18, before jumping. Schueler says sometimes the business "sells out" available space during a peak hour on a Saturday evening, meaning it's at a capacity of 150 people using the trampoline courts per hour, and people wait in line for the next time slot.

That hour or more of jumping time gives kids a chance to burn off extra energy, he adds.

"They can come here, eat pizza, play video games, then jump it off," Schueler says. "On average, a kid can jump two hours, and that's not enough. They're having so much fun they don't know it's healthy entertainment. For parents, the kids go home and go right to sleep."

Treva Lind
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