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About Us

The Pool Place Is Now The Great Backyard Place!


In the early 50s, Frank G. May opened a filling station at the intersection of Germantown and Ringgold roads in East Ridge, Tenn. As the years passed, the station evolved, dipping into different fields. From the sale of fish tackle to exotic pets and home goods, Frank finally found his calling in the late 60s with toy retail. After frank suddenly passed away in 1973, his only child Tom, a school teacher at the time, stepped on board to run his father’s thriving business. A&M Toys and Hobbies eventually boasted 9 locations from Maryville to Chattanooga before new big-box retailers threatened local toy shops. In the latter part of the 70s, Tom built a large building off Lee Highway serviced only by a gravel road, which became Perimeter Drive. He installed a Doughboy pool out front and started selling pools in 1979. By 1982, A&M Family Fun Center became The Pool Place and has grown as the leading pool and spa store in Chattanooga and Knoxville ever since.

With such a seasonally-based business, Tom approached his wife Peg about going into the Christmas business to keep folks on payroll year-round, and in ‘89 Christmas Time At The Pool Place was a glistening reality in both Chattanooga and Knoxville. Several years later in 1992, Tom bought a small spa manufacturer in Southern California and gave birth to what is now one of the largest spa manufacturers in the world—Artesian Spas, May Manufacturing. Once Tom finally slowed down, I, Frank C. May, sold my small Internet and marketing firm to step on board with the family business in 2003. For years my sister Kelly had been taking over the books from our grandmother, and soon became the company’s CFO. While The Pool Place had been a pool and spa store for decades, in 2004 we started offering patio furniture in all our stores. Naturally, as furniture grew in importance, our message became more backyard living and less simply pool and spa.

The Great Backyard Place is not divorce with our past; rather, it is the natural evolution of our business. Many of life’s best memories are made outside. Increasingly, we look at the outdoor living space of our homes as an extension and enhancement of our desire to connect, relate, and unwind. There something about crickets chirping and stars above that enhance an evening in a way no glamorous kitchen can. I know for myself, so many of my most precious memories include friends and family and involve pools, spas, and outdoor dinners. Operating as The Great Backyard Place, we are still committed to offering the same best value guarantee, the same level of service and expertise, and the same passion for filling the unique needs of each family. From outdoor kitchens, grills, and hanging beds to patio furniture, pools, spas, and gazebos, The Great Backyard Place is the one-stop shop to expand your living quarters into the great outdoors. We currently have stores located in Asheville NCChattanooga TNCleveland TNKnoxville TN, Maryville TN, and St. George, UT

Frank May
President, CEO
A&M Distributors
The Great Backyard Place