January is a tough time to be in the self-serve frozen yogurt business.
That's what has prompted Orange Leaf Marblehead owner Mike Hennessy, who opened the local franchise last summer, to branch out during some of his slowest business hours of the day to encourage youngsters and their caretakers to stop down and play a while as they sample the 70 flavors of FroYo and toppings.
This includes his customers from nearby Swampscott.
The owner said he has a good number of Swampscott residents as customers who might be interested in this program.
Hennessy says "Arts & Craft Time" starts up Feb. 4 and will run daily through May from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. with tables supplied with paints, markers, Crayons and drawing paper.
During the winter, business still typically picks up again once kids get out of school later in the afternoon, but it's those middle of the day hours Hennessy is hoping to fill up.
Having a good idea of who his target audience was, he reached out to a few PTO mothers he knew had small children and asked for advice on how to get stay-at-home parents and nannies to patronize the shop more.
"All of the mothers said the same thing, 'If I could go somewhere and talk to another adult while my child is being entertained, I would be there tommorow!'" said Hennessy.
In addition to providing the basic arts and crafts supplies, Hennessy has also partnered with some local businesses -- Wit & Whimsy Children's Bookstore, Kiwi Kids Studio, Seaside Nursery and Marblehead Children's Center -- to plan regular outings to Orange Leaf throughout the month for arts and crafts, sing-a-longs and story times.
"We feel that this is a great way for our customers to meet the owners and staff of these Marblehead businesses, as well as observe how their little ones react to the activity and the instructor," he said.
"We also enourage parents to bring in their little ones for lunch as well as lunch for themselves," he said. "Orange Leaf Marblehead will be expanding its menu to include hot coffee, tea, bottled water and juice boxes."
A calendar of special guest events is posted to the Orange Leaf Marblehead Facebook page.