Chelsea TreeHouse Under New Ownership


The Chelsea Tree House Photo By Sarah Hirshland

On January 20th, 2023, owner of The Chelsea TreeHouse, Michele Balaka, wrote a statement on her decision to retire from the long-standing family business. “It has only been seven days since the announcement of my retirement, in that time, the response has been overwhelming with potential all cash/pre-approved buyers,” was written on the company webpage. The Chelsea TreeHouse is located at 1101 S. Main Street in Chelsea, and was established in 2006 by Balaka, a stay-at-home mother of two. The “For Sale” tab available on the site saw numerous hits, and within three hours, was sold to one of Balaka’s customers, “It just happens to be that they just checked all the boxes,” said Balaka, “It wasn't a bidding war, I just wanted to make sure that the person will succeed.”

The indoor almost 9,000 square foot play yard has been an important addition to families in the community for nearly 17 years. Countless people in the area and beyond, have enjoyed the sizable play structures at The Chelsea TreeHouse, which include a ball playroom, slides, obstacle courses, a cafe and much more. Private events and birthday parties have also been major hits for the TreeHouse. Balaka shared with STN that the entertainment businesses can be a tricky one to produce, and that the failure rate for amusement is high, “It’s really because of my landlord that I'm able to be here,” she said. Luckily for frequent visitors, the TreeHouse will remain operating under new ownership, along with the trademark, “I don't want anyone to think I’m going to go back into this business and compete against them,” said Balaka. The TreeHouse’s second location in Chicago, was another trade Balaka recently retired from.

Letting go of something so meaningful and personal was not a decision she took lightly, “I met with 5 buyers, because I wanted to make sure I was picking the right buyer,” said Balaka, “It was on fire, I didn’t expect it.” In the coming future, the mothering entrepreneur is looking forward to helping her two children with their successes, as her daughter takes big leaps in her own trademark business, and her son finishes his last year of college. Balaka and her family are looking forward to helping the new owners through transition, as they will be bringing in their own staff, “We’re going to be here for the owners,” stated Balaka. According to the family, none of the kids ever planned to take it over, but the running joke is that if she had more children, it may have been passed down. The TreeHouse could see a new legacy come into play, as the buyer is said to be a stay-at-home mother of three, and regular at the establishment.

The final steps in the sale are set for mid-May, and many of Balaka’s previous employers, friends and family are currently working to assist in the pass off. Daughter Mckenzie Balaka has been working on and off at the family business since 2012, “It’s been part of my life” she said, “it's going to be weird.” The family may be passing the torch, but they are excited to see the TreeHouse prevail, “If I put it in good hands, I’m not missing out on anything” said Balaka, “I’ll come back.”

Endless Playtime for Families at the TreeHouse Photo By Sarah Hirshland
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