For many, an overwhelming sense of nostalgia often takes over at the sight of an old-fashioned playground. The mass of bars, the worn-down grass interspersed with patches of exposed dirt, and even the blisteringly hot surface of a metal slide… they all hearken back to the more carefree days of childhood.
And while the phrase ‘some things never change’ can be applied to a great many things, the ever-evolving playground is not one of them. Today’s play systems are designed to be fully customizable, age appropriate and environmentally friendly. They are also extremely safe, and incorporate all sorts of materials: from metal and specially treated lumber to brightly colored (and recycled) plastics and rubber.
In central Ohio, these thoroughly modern contraptions are the bread and butter of Nick Andrews, manager of Pete Delois’ Recreations Outlet in Powell. The company’s inventory ranges from the nationally renowned Rainbow Play Systems brand, to Goalsetter Basketball Systems, Springfree Trampolines and the Step2 line of indoor/outdoor toys. Their14,000 sq. ft. showroom is also a hotspot for young children, as it’s open year-round for play and can be reserved for birthday parties.
“One thing we try to do here is sell high quality products that are built to last a lifetime,” said Andrews. “Parents want to give their kids what they didn’t have, or better than what they did have. We look at warranties, durability, and how well our products will hold up against the elements and weather,” he said.
And while mass merchants like Sam’s Club, Walmart and Toys “R” Us have started getting into the play system market, Andrews notes one big limitation. “Mass merchants just want to sell non-customizable swing sets,” he says. “Our clients can add onto their chosen system, get replacement parts, or adjust the system without leveling their entire yard or building retaining walls. We even offer buy backs on all Rainbow swing sets, and will often trade them in towards a basketball hoop or trampoline,” he said.