Visit the historic downtown of Kennewick and you'll find lions and hippos as well as gargoyles and angels at the corner of Kennewick Avenue and Auburn Street. There's also 28 gurgling and cascading fountains.
They're all at the Concrete Jungle, a store specializing in cast concrete outdoor decor.
Randy Blumer opened his business May 16 with help from store manager Mick McCoy. The grand opening is June 13-14 with free hot dogs and draft root beer from Kennewick's Ice Harbor Brewing.
Blumer has been in the real estate business for 30 years and has no plans to give it up. "It's my bread and butter," he said.
But when he had the chance to sell the decorative concrete items, Blumer took it, as long as McCoy agreed to run it.
The concrete outdoor decorations are made by Concrete Works in Spokane, owned by Curtis Gremz.
Years ago, Blumer said, Gremz had a place out by Queensgate for a while. Then later, he would come to the Tri-Cities and sell his work for a week or two.
"I've always liked his work. It's quality. Over the years I've bought quite a few pieces of his," Blumer said.
When the building Blumer owns at 102 W. Kennewick Ave. became vacant, he approached Gremz, offering to rent it to him for a retail outlet.
"There simply isn't anything of his quality available in the Tri-Cities," Blumer said, gesturing at the assortment of animals, statuary, fountains and more set up at the store.
But Gremz wasn't interested in running a retail store in the Tri-Cities.
However, Gremz agreed to supply Blumer with outdoor decor items from Concrete Works.
The Concrete Jungle is still a work in progress. There's no sign yet, but the statues and fountains set up outside are catching customers' eyes.
"We've sold several pieces already. What we're finding is someone comes in, looks around, says they'll be back and usually are. Most often with their significant other for consultation," McCoy said.
Prices range from $20 for the smaller pieces to $1,000 for a three-tiered fountain.
Delivery is available and McCoy will set up plumbing for the fountains. He's devised a system using solar power to pump the water so it doesn't cost anything to run. Or the fountains can be wired to plug in to the house current.
"I want to be up front with people. Delivery and installation for some of the larger pieces can cost as much as the item," Blumer said.
The concrete pieces are finished with a powdery charcoal product or can be acid-etched with colored stains. Either way it's recommended the pieces be sealed every one to two years. Sealer is available at many hardware stores.
"The sealer makes them shiny and some people don't like that. But if you don't, water in any cracks can freeze and chip the concrete in the winter," McCoy said. "But that's the good thing about concrete, chips are repairable."
Blumer and McCoy still have a lot of plans for the store. They would like to set up displays outdoors to make demonstration patios.
"People can visualize the possibilities better in a setting like that, but we'll have to work it out with the city," Blumer said.
Blumer and McCoy are still working on a website, www.idealyard.com, but you can find them on Facebook.
Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Phone: 509-221-1272
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