Smaller than most, but Bo’s is still a success
Space is tight at Bo’s Lawn Equipment in Warwick — there’s just 300sq feet of floor space. Still owner Chris Bromby packs the store with weed whackers, lawnmowers, air conditioners, barbecues and the odd cement mixer.
“It does get a little clustered when all that is in, but we fill it in,” Mr Bromby said. “It’s like a puzzle.”
Mr Bromby and his sister Nicola inherited the business in October 2017, when their father John ‘Bo’ Bromby retired.
The older Mr Bromby started Bo’s Lawn Equipment in 1993.
“He went down to Florida on a family vacation,” Chris Bromby said. “He went into a Home Depot and saw these string trimmers. He saw prices in other shops in Bermuda, and he said man, I could bring that stuff in for cheaper. He bought in a container. The rest is history.”
Bo’s Lawn Equipment’s first home was at Barnes Corner in Southampton at the junction between South Shore Road and Middle Road.
After two years they moved to the parking lot near Lindo’s Family Foods in Warwick.
Then they were invited to rent a nearby building at 124 Middle Road, Warwick.
“There have been thoughts of moving to a bigger place, but at the moment we are pretty comfortable,” the 33-year-old said. “We have a low overhead so we can keep our prices down. Our customer clientele is pretty steady and loyal.”
He started out in construction, but two years ago his father retired and offered the business to him and his sister.
Now, Mr Bromby is at the store six days a week. One of their best sellers is their lawnmowers.
“We sell everything from the old-fashioned push mowers, to self-propelled mowers,” Mr Bromby said. “In the summer we sell a lot of air conditioners. We have good prices and a good brand.”
They also sell cigarettes and sodas. On a weekday morning there is a steady stream of customers coming in for smokes. Mr Bromby knows many of them by name, and there’s a lot of sports banter exchanged.
“The cigarettes get the bills paid,” Mr Bromby said.
But things aren’t always easy for small businesses. Last month, Bo’s Lawn Equipment suffered an attempted robbery.
“A man appeared in a ski mask, closed the store door and demanded cash,” Mr Bromby said.
Quickly realising what was happening, Mr Bromby tackled the suspect as soon as he reached for his waistband and the two fell through the doorway and on to the street.
The pair struggled until the suspect broke free and escaped on foot.
More than a month later, Mr Bromby said he still feels a little shaken by the incident.
“Even if I was to see him walking down the street now, I wouldn’t be able to say who the person was,” Mr Bromby said. “That leaves me uneasy. It could be one of our customers.”
But he’s received a lot of positive feedback and encouragement from the community.
A more routine challenge for the business has been credit cards. They only started accepting them in December.
“Factoring your fees in with your costs and keeping costs reasonable for consumers is a challenge, but having the credit card is a plus,” Mr Bromby said.
They face stiff competition from bigger local companies such as Gorhams and Masters, but Bo’s Lawn Equipment is holding steady.
“Our advantage is our service,” Mr Bromby said. “Our mowers come assembled. We put gas in them and start them up for customers. We show people how to string the trimmers which can be tricky.”
Now Mr Bromby is looking towards his nephew Zico Smith, maybe one day inheriting the business.
“He’s 13 right now,” Mr Bromby said. “He helps out here in the summers. He also makes ginger bread during the week which we sell down here as a little hustle.”