Augustans Howard and Hallie Merry have founded a company to make a brand of metal lawn furniture that was produced by the Bunting Glider Co., of Philadelphia, in the mid-20th century.
The idea came to them when their family sold some land. It had a farm pond, and a Bunting glider sat unprotected on the dock for more than 50 years. As they packed up the glider, they noticed that, aside from a little rust, it was still in remarkable condition. They searched for anyone still making the gliders but found that the company had gone out of business and that the only ones for sale were priced high on eBay or at antique stores.
“We couldn’t figure out why no one was making them,” Howard Merry said.
After months of research, the metal dies for producing the gliders were made and plans for manufacturing the pieces were finalized. Right now, Local Patio is waiting for enough pre-orders to begin production on the gliders.
The gliders are powder-coated stainless steel and come in six colors. Two color combinations denote Local Patio’s Augusta roots, the blue and white Harrisburg and green and white Augusta. Customers who pre-order the glider receive a 40 percent discount.
Howard Merry is currently working as president of Neba Health, a company that is developing an ADHD evaluation test. He has also founded several startups in the past, but Local Patio is more than just a good business idea to him.
“I love this furniture and have a passion for it,” he said.
He believes one of the glider’s best features is that the furniture is made in the United States from domestic steel. There is a growing demand for American products, he said, and that’s a movement he wants to support.
“I don’t think it’s a gimmick; I think it’s a legitimate trend,” he said. “I feel like it’s something that will continue.”
Hallie Merry worked in sales for years before her daughter was born, and now that she is approaching school age her mother has been looking for something to do. Local Patio is a perfect fit for her, she believes, and she’s excited about long-range potential for the company.
“This is even something we could include our daughter in eventually,” she said.
The Merrys hope the Local Patio brand will grow to contain a wide range of merchandise for the front porch or backyard. They recently sent their die cutter a metal chair and hope to begin production on those also.
“Everybody you meet who has these pieces of furniture has great stories to tell about them,” Howard Merry said. “They’re American icons.”