“Unplugged play” is a common phrase used when describing Atlanta-based children’s store Rhen’s Nest Toy Shop. Luckily, that’s exactly what owners Christina and John Bonaccorse set out to create—a warm, inviting place for parents to bring their children and discover some great, unique toys while enjoying a wonderful experience, instead of resorting to letting “screen time” take over.
It’s the screen time that the Bonaccorses were trying to avoid when the concept of Rhen’s Nest was crafted in 2014.
“Our daughter, Rhen, was little and I was doing a lot of traveling by myself with her,” Christina said. “So we were looking for activities and toys to keep a 2 year old busy without giving her iPads and electronics, but I was finding that there just wasn’t a lot being offered in the Atlanta area.”
Christina and John, who also works in the Atlanta film industry, filled the gap they saw in the Atlanta toy market with Rhen’s Nest and now have two locations filled with “wall-to-wall charm,” in the words of a Yelp reviewer.
Inside they sell battery- and electronic-free toys to help foster the imaginations of local children and hold special events such as story time and board game nights.
“We hope you come, visit and share in our love of adventure, play and building happy, healthy childhoods,” the shop website reads. “We invite you to touch, listen, sit, interact and learn about our thoughtfully curated selection of toys, and have a lot of fun in the meantime.”
As the business began to grow, so did Christina and John’s employee scheduling needs— and Google Calendar just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. That’s when they discovered Homebase.
Stepping Up the Scheduling Game
“We quickly realized Google Calendar wasn’t going to work, and the idea of printing something out and posting it, with the times we’re in where people need instant access, it’s just not conducive for efficient work,” Christina said. “So our manager did some research and found Homebase, and it had all of the features we needed. Coming from Google Calendar it looked like the Rolls Royce of any kind of scheduling options.”
Christina added that her employees love the app just as much as she does.
“My employees love using Homebase,” she said. “It’s easy, it gives them instant access to schedules. Unlike some employers we like to have our schedules built out a month in advance because it’s fair to our employees, so it gives us the ability to do that.
Christina added that using the Advanced Scheduling app saves around two hours every week, and she loves that the software gives employees more control— freeing up more time for her and John.
“If we build a schedule and an employee realizes they have a doctor’s appointment, they can go in themselves and have their shifts covered by either trading a shift or just having somebody cover it altogether,” she said.
Thanks to the ease of use and timesaving tools, Christina said she often recommends the app to other business owners.
“We tell everybody it’s a great service,” she said. “The fact that we’re putting things in the hands of our employees and giving them responsibility instead of it falling back on us has been a huge timesaver — it’s been a game changer for us.”
Hiring a Great Team
Creating an inviting family-focused environment starts with recruiting the right staff members, and Christina did just that with Homebase Hiring, which helps you post a job to the top online job boards and then lets you easily manage all your candidates and scheduling in one simple location.
“The hiring app is really great because it connects to many different job-posting sites and we get a great response from applicants,” she said. “It’s worked out really well for us—it’s where we found all of our current staff.
With great tools to manage an even better team of employees, (and the help of Rhen, who was touted by one reviewer as an “expert sales lady”) it’s not surprising to see such kind words written about Rhen’s Nest.
“This store is absolute magic,” a Facebook reviewer wrote. “The owners are caring and take great pride in having a store that truly benefits the healthy, playful development of children. They are always so generous with their space and happily let my rambunctious child explore to her heart’s content.”