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ABQ startup has grand entertainment plans

COURTESY ELECTRIC PLAYHOUSE
These website images illustrate some of the interactive activities — heavy on light and music — offered by new Albuquerque business Electric Playhouse for children to adults.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque startup that focuses on unique interactive, digital “playhouses” is planning an aggressive cross-country expansion.

During an event hosted by Economic Forum of Albuquerque Wednesday. Electric Playhouse co-founders Brandon Garrett and John-Mark Collins, discussed the company’s vision for kids and adults alike.

The company plans to eventually bring its entertainment concept to more than 1,000 sites across the country, starting with a former Staples building on Albuquerque’s West Side.

“It’s going to be an experience that you’ve never seen before,” Garrett said. “And we’re excited to be doing this in Albuquerque.”

Collins described what Electric Playhouse is working to cultivate as being similar to stepping into a movie or video game. The company plans to take indoor spaces – frequently big-box stores that the owners have had challenges filling – and map projected digital images onto the walls, floors and ceilings of rooms in the building, with motion sensors that can respond to the movements of customers. Think a Nintendo controller sensing your hand movements but on a much larger scale.

The result is a collection of interactive and collaborative digital experiences that change roughly once an hour, with themes ranging from space to Atlantis to everything in between, Garrett said.

“It’s an experience that’s really helping to get you off the phone, get you off the couch, and really engage in doing something with others,” he said.

He said the company offers a variety of activities, to competitive games to curated group meals for birthday parties and corporate events.

The company, which was given a Falcon award for strong growth despite a short history of success during 2019’s Flying 40 technology awards, has so far developed its technology at its Downtown Albuquerque studio, but is planning to expand soon.

The company is renovating a 24,000-square-foot building – once home to a Staples store – near the intersection of I-40 and Coors NW into its first playhouse. Garrett said the building will include 15,000 square feet of immersive space, along with dedicated areas for “wall ball,” where kids can throw balls and interactive digital panels, and other floor-based games. Garrett added that the company will also have a cafe and a bar, assuming the company can procure a liquor license.

Garrett said the company plans to finish construction on the Albuquerque playhouse by this fall, and is planning to hold a soft opening in December.

Long-term, the company hopes to have locations in around 1,050 domestic markets.

“Our goal is to scale and to blow this thing up fast,” Garrett said.

 

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