Going from managing ostriches to running a baseball business may seem like a strange jump, but it's just another day in the office for Better Baseball founder Glen Robinson III. In the 1980s, he began raising and selling ostriches and emus as food and as companions for people allergic to pet rocks. A warm spring morning brought an impromptu visit for a customer who was less interested in the massive birds, and more focused on the netting that separated the animals' pens. Soon, Glen was spending more time crafting batting cages than selling his livestock, inspiring him to open what would eventually become Better Baseball.
Today, this bird-free business furnishes players of America's favorite pastime with the gear they need to play Little League, softball, or even college-level games. After taking practice swings inside one of Glen's onsite cages, players can pick up the gloves, glove pads, and eye protection needed to help them catch any pop flies or poorly aimed Cracker Jack from the stands.
Filled with whippersnappers soaring down slides and giggling as they hop on giant trampolines, Superior Play Systems' sprawling showrooms seem more like lively amusement parks than retail stores. As youngsters explore the professionally assembled play sets and basketball courts, staffers attend the parents, answering inquiries and guiding them through the store's extensive selection of safety-tested trampolines, and sports and recreation equipment. The store is home to a sweeping variety of imaginative play sets, made from durable materials like certified California redwood and cedar.
The The Dive Shop's instructors, drawing from Scuba Schools International's programs, teach water-safety skills to fledgling divers and swimmers of all ages. Classes and activities range from the Scuba Rangers club?where kids aged 8?12 learn to snorkel and scuba dive from the safety of a pool?to open-water dives, swimming lessons, and more advanced stress-and-rescue dive sessions, during which instructors turn dog paddlers into almost-mermaids, minus the pet octopuses.
Targets strung up in 12 comfortably ventilated and climate-controlled lanes await approaching bullets as they fly from firearms held 25 yards away. Adjacent to the range, a private, 16-seat room houses NRA- and state-certified instructors as they walk novice and advanced trigger fingers alike through the safety and skills necessary to wield a pistol. In addition to supplying customers with firearm-operating knowledge, the expert gunslingers equip marksmen with a wealth of rifles and pistols from brand names such as Colt and Sig Sauer. Holsters, magazines, and cleaning supplies—such as a gun that shoots all the dirt off your other gun—round out the shop's extensive stock, which includes more than 27,000 products in its online store.
Peter Glenn stocks its shelves with a wealth of sporting equipment and apparel for tennis, skiing, snowboarding, and water skiing. Brands such as Alpinestar, Wilson, Prince, K-Swiss, and Head line the walls of both Atlanta locations, waiting to slip over heads, armor shoulders and feet, and comfort whining tennis elbows. Tail and K-Swiss tennis garments distract opponents with bright colors and sleek designs ($35+), and a re-strung racket ($18) and new tennis balls ($2.99+) let the seed of a powerful forehand flower into beautiful aces. Springing flashily out of their boxes and leather jackets, tennis shoes ($59.99+) and rackets ($79.99+) intimidate opponents with their frightening utility and charm referees with their roguish good looks.