Families are taking advantage of the warm, sunny weather by spending time in their backyards, whether it’s hanging out on their decks and patios, taking a dip in a swimming pool, playing outdoor games, hosting barbecues or relaxing against the massaging jets of their hot tub.
“People have learned to live in their backyards as opposed to taking vacations,” said Jeff Burr, manager of Best In Backyards’ Monroe store. “They’re learning to appreciate their own yards.”
Best In Backyards, which has had a Monroe store for over 25 years, is also enjoying the more spacious backyard and larger showroom of its new location at 615 Main St. after moving from its former address at 391 Main St.
“I could put the old office in here four-five times,” Burr said before a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the 615 Main St. store Friday morning. “It’s amazing. It’s beautiful. We’re right on the street. There is a beautiful traffic flow. What’s amazing is a lot of people think we’re a new business and we were just down the street.”
“Selling people stuff out of pictures and selling things people can see and touch are two totally different things,” he said. “It’s much more important for people to see and feel things.”
The showroom has everything from swim spas and grills to hot tubs and decks. Outdoor displays behind the store include railings, pavers, patio furniture, trampolines, swings sets, playhouses and sheds to name just a few products.
“This store, for us, is the highest priority store in the chain,” said Nelson Lafayette, the company’s new CEO. “There’s initial buzz. We need to continue that buzz. My goal is every time you come here, you’ll go, ‘wow, you do this too?!'”
Scott Honigsberg started Best in Backyards in 1992 and the chain of outdoor superstores now has Connecticut locations in Monroe, Danbury and Cheshire, and two stores in New York.
Best In Backyards is in the process of redoing each store and is scouting locations to build new ones.
On Friday, First Selectman Ken Kellogg, State Rep. Tony Scott, R-112th, Monroe Chamber of Commerce President Ray Giovanni, Community and Economic Development Dir. William Holsworth, and several members of the Chamber and Monroe Economic Development Commission attended the ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating Best In Backyards’ new location.
Store executives and staff attending Friday’s ceremony were Scott Honigsberg Jr., Lafayette, Vice President of Sales Rolf Zimmermann, Burr and sales manager Durim Krasniqi.
“On behalf of the town of Monroe, congratulations,” Kellogg said after the ribbon was cut. “We’re so thrilled. You’ve been here for so many years and I can’t thank you enough on behalf of our town … we’re all here to say thank you for choosing to stay in Monroe and expand in Monroe and to many years of success.”
Giovanni said he bought equipment from Best In Backyards 15 years ago, and its still standing.
“The beautiful facility you’ve created here is just absolutely gorgeous and we appreciate all the capital you’ve invested and your commitment to our town,” he said. “We’re looking forward to helping you move forward.”
Fun, safe environments
“Our swing sets are forever,” Lafayette said. “We take a lot of pride in how we manufacture our swing sets. We have a good program for our customers to maintain them. We are providing services to young kids, so we are conscious of the safety component.”
Best In Backyards’ swing sets are sold in the U.S. and Canada by around 10 dealers.
“My goal is to work with 100 dealers,” Lafayette said, “because we have the best value products you can find, not the cheapest, not the most expensive, but the highest value.”
Lafayette said Best In Backyards will make repairs for its customers, adding their swing sets are so popular, they receive numerous requests to disassemble, truck and reassemble the swing sets when customers move to a new home, a service the stores provide for a fee.
“It’s about creating experiences that become memories, from building swing sets to building pools, to building a deck and everything in between,” Layafette said. “We make it safe and fun. We’re more of a solutions provider than anything else. You can go anywhere for a swing set or a hot tub or swimming pool. We do the site inspection, we dig the hole, the whole process. We help customers with permitting from A to Z.”
“We have our own installation team,” he said. “It’s all our employees. All our trucks. Some contractors collect the money and don’t show up. That doesn’t happen with us.”
Layafette said many customers start out as young couples shopping for a swing set for their children. The children get older and the family may decide to have swimming pool, cabana and pool house. Parents may later want a deck or patio and when their children are grown, it could be time to install a swing set again for visits with the grandkids.
“It’s a lifetime relationship with our customers,” he said.