Backyard Leisure, a company based out of Terre Haute, Indiana, is preparing to open a store in Springfield, which will be their second location. They have purchased the building at 1434 Wabash Avenue that formerly housed Divine Designs and are currently moving in inventory.
“We have every intention of being open in the next couple of weeks,” said Josh Michels, senior wellness consultant for Backyard Leisure. “We’re participating in the spring lawn and garden show at the Expo Building (April 7-8) so we’d like to be up and running by then.”
Michels parents, Earl and Joyce Michels, started the company in 1998 after trying to purchase a gazebo for their own yard. They found that it was cost-prohibitive to have one custom made by a contractor and the manufacturers of pre-made gazebos did not sell to the general public. Earl contacted the closest dealer, who eventually agreed to sell him one for his backyard and another to display in his front yard. Earl had worked in the insurance industry for two decades at that point, but he began selling gazebos and outdoor furniture on the side by in-home appointment.
After a few years, he leased a small piece of land close to a nearby mall and began to generate additional phone calls from his outdoor displays. In 2003, he added hot tubs to his product line and the following year he quit his job to focus on Backyard Leisure as a full-time business.
Josh Michels said, “We were able to weather the leaner times after 2008 happened, now we’re poised and ready for some major growth. Springfield looks to be a really healthy market that is underserved, particularly when it comes to hot tubs.”
Michels said that one employee from Terre Haute, Adam Carlen, will relocate to Springfield to become the general manager of the new store. “Then we’ll be looking to hire local talent for sales, service and delivery,” he explained. “And assuming that Springfield goes well, we’ll be looking to expand to additional locations in the future.”