It’s Small Business Saturday and we are happy to share TinkrLab Lab STEAM and Learning Center. TinkrLab is a STEAM-based childcare and learning center for children ages 3-12 years. You may remember TinkrLab located in the Meridan Mall. Owner, Melissa Rabideau recently moved her business to a beautiful new space on the corner of Grand River and Park Lake Roads in East Lansing.
TinkrLab is known for their hands-on classes and unique toys. They now have expanded to offer childcare as well as preschool! Melissa saw the need for childcare in the area and the vision has come to life. GLAMoms recently toured TinkrLab and did not want to leave! The cutest animal mural, a colorful picket fence separating the age groups, reading nook and even a full size piano for children to play! The fun and learning that happens at TinkrLab list goes on and on.
And as Melissa says, “Mess is a must!”- she believes children need to be able to get messy and have fun while learning. If you are looking for childcare, preschool, a STEAM class or even a birthday gift – TinkrLab STEAM and Learning Center is just the place!
Welcome to Small Business Saturday, Melissa!
Tell us about tinkrLab Steam & Learning Center! (The who, what, when, where and why!)
TinkrLAB is a STEAM Learning Center meaning we focus on science technology engineering arts and math. We traditionally work with kids kindergarten through sixth grade but have recently opened a childcare and preschool so that we can work with kids much younger. We opened in 2014 and have recently moved into our permanent home at 2650 E. Grand River, East Lansing.
When we started TinkrLAB there was nothing like it other than science museums, which have their place but really only offer a broad overview. We wanted to work more independently with each child and family to take them from point a to point B and beyond. It helps to teach kids about invention and I think it is important that they learn early how to solve problems and overcome obstacles.
What is your background? What made you go into what you’re doing now?
My background is actually in health care. I wanted to be able to do something with meaning so after college I couldn’t find a job I wanted…. So through a series of events the idea of tinkrLAB came to me.
What do you love about having a business in the Greater Lansing area?
The #LoveLansing support. There is an underground movement of strong supporters in the area and seeing them all come together to make something incredible happen is amazing. I have seen it over and over again with projects that we have led the way on and also participated in. Seeing the passion that the Lansing community has to come together is really inspiring.
What has been the most challenging part of running your business during COVID, and how did you overcome it?
The most challenging part has absolutely been the unknowns. For the retail side of our business, people have been scared to come out into public. Especially at first. There has become such a habit of purchasing from Amazon, which I understand the ease of it… but it’s really damaged small businesses. We have all of our products online, but on some things, the small businesses just can’t compete. So that’s been a challenge.
The other component and more challenging piece has been the drastic change in how we do face to face programming. Everything about tinkrLAB, our programs, and what we promote is hands-on experience based learning. When there is a demand to limit contact and socially distance… that makes the very essence of who we are a challenge. We have made the adjustments though and continued on because what we are doing is so important, we can’t give up on it. We are all about discovery right? So its in our DNA to discover solutions.
What are some exciting plans you have for the business closing out 2021 and as we move towards 2022?
We have MOVED and we have our own childcare and preschool now! We started in the mall but with the last few years we knew we wanted to do something different. So we have moved into our new facility on the corner of Grand River and Park Lake in East Lansing and we have officially opened our preschool and child care!
It’s been in the plans for years and it’s amazing to see it as a reality now. We wanted to offer a place where it’s about more than just keeping your kid alive for the day. So we have implemented all of the best things about TinkrLAB for the younger age group! Each day the kids experience Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math as part of their daily schedule. Its been so much fun to see the kids interacting and truly loving coming every day.
What’s your favorite business or two in the Greater Lansing area – other than yours, of course ?
I LOVE Preuss Pets. Knowing the family, they truly love what they do and their customers.
My other favorite is Ham Sweet Farms. They put so much of who they are into their farm and you can tell.
Both of these places are family owned and operated which just makes it that much sweeter.
What are some of the most popular toys you sell in tinkrLab?
We have all sorts of hands-on learning toys. Most of what you find with us, you won’t be able to find at a box store. I purposely find products that are high quality and ENGAGING. We have also expanded our offerings to fit the younger age group as well so from toddler through adults, we have something that will interest you.
We also have our own line called tinkrDIY which is laser cut puzzles, models, and kits that we make right here in Lansing. They of course are my favorite.
You offer many types of children’s classes as well as adult classes-we would love to hear more about these!
We do! We have classes ranging from DIY projects to 3D Printing, Robotics and Coding. You can also gift these as an “experience” gift.
Melissa’s dog, Dudley was the inspiration for this mural.
What are some fun plans you have for your Holiday season?
We will have parties, classes, shopping events and more. All of these will be listed on our website.
Is there any sort of promotion you would like to offer GLAMom’s followers?
If GLAMoms mention this feature we will give them $5 tinkrCASH with any $10+ purchase (in essence a $5 gift card)
Anything else you would like to share with GLAMom’s?
We are here to help be the best resource for STEAM in the Lansing area. It’s our desire to see kids grow and thrive whether that’s through products, classes, or child care. We want to be part of your village.
Thank you Melissa and TinkrLab Learning Centers. We loved learning more about this amazing space for children and even adults.
Preferred contact Melissa- Melissa@tinkrlab.com
Phone: 517-285-5254 (text)
Facebook @tinkrLAB STEAM Learning Centers