Best of Orange County 2017: Best backyard furniture and accessories store

OCRegister 10 months ago

1. Backyard Expressions
Huntington Beach, Yorba Linda

Jim Montgomery’s summer job at an outdoor furnishings store when he was a teen in the 1970s evolved into a livelihood and lifelong passion. After managing the shop for decades, Montgomery quit in 2008 to set up Backyard Expressions in Yorba Linda.

In 2013, the addition of a second store in Huntington Beach with a much larger showroom broadened Backyard Expressions’ geographic reach to customers closer to the coast.

BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY: See the full list of winners

Montgomery says his company has fared well against chain stores by focusing on customer service and attention to quality. The result: powerful word-of-mouth advertising. It also has helped, he says, to have a broad range of carefully chosen in-store selections at both shops that include an array of outdoor tables and sofas, grills, heaters, fire pits and other products and accessories chosen as much for durability as for visual appeal.

Over the years, Montgomery has seen major shifts in the outdoor-furnishings market, most notably the evolving philosophy of just what a backyard should be. Whereas the backyard once was considered a spot to merely barbecue and sit for a quick meal, backyards nowadays often are thought of as extensions of a home’s interior — elegant places to spend hours relaxing and entertaining.

Montgomery figures he’ll be educating and guiding his customers on how best to create that perfect environment for years to come.

2. Roger’s Gardens
2301 San Joaquin Hills Road, Newport Beach

Outdoor furnishings aren’t the main attraction at Roger’s Gardens, the venerable garden store that draws expert gardeners from all over Orange County — and tourists from points farther — to stroll its pristine grounds, attend seasonal workshops or shop for a superb selection of plants. There’s even the lure of a new, upscale restaurant.

But peppered prominently throughout the property is a wide range of outdoor furnishings and accessories aimed at transforming a backyard into a luxurious haven.

The company’s philosophy for furnishing a patio or other outdoor living space? Treat it the same way you would when decorating inside the home. To guide the way, the store offers not only upscale products, but also a knowledgeable staff to guide customers in that process. Dozens of furniture floor models located attractively in an elevated outdoor area above lush garden plants give a sense of what it might be like to relax on that furniture in your own outdoor space.

3. Patio Furniture Plus
Fullerton, Santa Ana

Family-owned Patio Furniture Plus has grown dramatically since its start about a quarter-century ago in a small office space. It now boasts six stores, including two Orange County locations and a 32,000-square-foot showroom in Ontario. Over the past 10 years, the company also has begun manufacturing some of its own furniture products.

Megan Hedges, who manages the Santa Ana store, says that among the company’s top goals is to offer a range of quality, durable products year-round for customers with a wide range of budgets. Another aim: Get involved with customers from the start, helping them along the way as they design and organize an outdoor space suitable to their specific needs.

She and other staff members frequently visit customers’ homes to offer their expertise. “We really go the extra mile for the customer in several different ways,” she says.

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