Work is all fun at Al’s Fun Center

Published 12:09 pm Thursday, September 28, 2023

By Jordan Brooks

Al’s Fun Center recently opened its doors in Pineville and is ready to serve the community.

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Located at 119 Pine St., Al’s Fun Center is available for birthday parties and has catering services. The fun center was not a spontaneous overnight idea, but rather the product of several years of work that developed from just one inflatable.

The owner, Jarrod Nunnelley, also owns a medical transportation business in Harlan called Bluegrass Transit of Harlan. In addition, Nunnelley is a realtor who serves Bell and Harlan counties with Century 21. Through this success, he was able to open his rental business, Tri-State Event Rentals, which rents inflatables, tents, chairs and more.

“To start from the beginning, in 2020 I bought the first used inflatable with a stimulus check thinking I could rent it, all while having something for my kids to enjoy,” said Jarrod Nunnelley, owner of Al’s fun Center. “I marketed this one inflatable as aggressively as one could. By word of mouth and facebook post, I was able to buy one by one.”

Nunnelley attended a retirement auction in Nashville in 2021 with tents, tables, chairs and bounce houses. He looked around for the nearest event rental place and Google showed Knoxville. Knowing there was nowhere close, he managed to win some auctions there and bought chairs, tables and wedding tents.

“In 2022 we managed to do 16 wedding tents, one rodeo, two fireworks, two reunions and two revivals with the tent rental business,” said Nunnelley. “I had no idea of the demand that this area had for tents.”

In January, Nunnelley made an investment and purchased 10 commercial inflatables that made his total inventory 16 units. Nunnelley kept busy over the summer, and thought instead of scaling the business outward, that he should capture the months he is missing throughout the year by having an indoor facility.

“If you’re like me, and have a January birthday, places are limited to have a birthday,” said Nunnelley. “Just so happened, there was a building that just opened up in Pineville. Pineville was the perfect place to make this idea a reality.”

Since June, Nunnelley spent most every night in Pineville painting and laying floor, although he didn’t really have any idea how much his idea was going to cost. Nunnelley says that the success of Tri-State Inflatables and Tri-State Event Rentals were so successful, it supported his effort to open an indoor events facility. Nunnelley wanted to go ahead and open as soon as he was given the green light, so parents could plan and reserve the facility for parties. Although space is limited, he has plans to optimize the space for more of an arcade feel during the next several months. Currently, the center is open for party reservations only.

Nunnelley says he named his new business after his daughters, Aubree and Laurel.

“I do feel confident that the center will be able to open to the public for a pay-to-play by the second week of January,” said Nunnelley. “I think symbiotically the center and the kids will benefit from having this available from 3-5:30 p.m. after school with a parent or guardian present.

“I want to stress how thankful I am for this community. Every night this summer, someone stopped by asking if they could help, seeing if I needed anything, or gave encouraging words. This community is very different, and I’m thankful for that.”

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