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Three North Texas Companies That Will Make You Want to Play Outside

Let’s get back to basics. Go analog. Sign off from the screens and let loose. Act like kids and make new memories. Here's how to make the most of summer in your own backyard, with help from some Dallas-area companies.
Autside Bags & Board
Elizabeth Lavin

Glen Collins had been mulling the idea of developing an outdoor-game brand when, one Sunday, his autistic son ran up on stage at church and started dancing with the band. Glen suddenly realized his company could benefit the autism community, and he did the phonetic math: “outside” plus “autism” equals Autside. “I’m literally in church, like, sneaking a Google search,” Glen says. A percentage of all Autside proceeds go to two autism organizations, and Glen is using his creative network as a partner at his own marketing and branding firm, Switch, to geek out over even the tiniest design quirks. Consider the “Bags and Boards” set: Glen enlisted his friend Matthew Hufft, an AIA award–winning architect and fabricator, to reinvent the classic cornhole design. Among many innovations, a magnetic pin used to lock the folded legs in place can then be used to keep score and also acts as a bottle opener. And Glen worked with the Flower Mound-based Bagdaddys (the owner of which has a special needs child) to make sustainable bags filled with recycled tire pellets. 

Autside also offers a high-quality pickleball set, pro-level Discraft Ultra-Star frisbee, a colorful Season basketball, and, arriving this month, a thoughtfully designed giant Jenga-like set. Glen’s goal is to have a meaningful impact and raise awareness. “And,” he says, “hopefully help people enjoy their lives and enjoy being together.”

Tower Ball

Alex Carroll is a born entrepreneur. As a kid, he sold bundles of mistletoe gathered from his grandfather’s ranch for $10 a pop at the corner of Purdue and Preston. While playing running back at Highland Park alongside Matthew Stafford, he edited highlight reels for his teammates’ parents at $250 per video. After he met his wife, Kelsey, through Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the couple came up with Toss Up Events, a company that built large-scale games to get sports fans amped. (Imagine an enormous cornhole board made out of scaffolding and covered with splashy designs for brands like Dr Pepper.) But then the pandemic squashed three years of business-building overnight.

In response, they founded Stand Up Stations, making custom-branded hand sanitizer stations. They grossed $15 million in nine months, sold the company, and, in true Carroll fashion, wasted no time developing a new passion project: outdoor games for the whole family. Caliber Games’ first product, Towerball, a four-sided weather- proof ball-toss game, arrived the same day as the Carroll’s third baby. Fortunately, you can play while holding a cold one or a little one. “We liter- ally think God created us to play and be outside and engage with each other,” Alex says. “If you don’t do that, we’re going the opposite direction.”

Solo Stove

In the showroom at Solo Brands’ new 430,000-square-foot HQ in Grapevine, you’ll find the Oru foldable “origami” kayak, Isle paddleboards, Chubbies Shorts, and the product that launched it all, the Solo Stove. Brothers Jeff and Spencer Jan started out with an idea for an outdoor cooking stove that would allow backpackers to boil water without using propane. They eventually developed a super-efficient fire pit that burns wood with virtually no smoke and very little ash. The company also offers the perfect s’more-making accessories and, new this January, a heat deflector to expand the reach of your fire pit’s warmth. 1001 Mustang Dr., Grapevine. 817-900-2664.


S. Holland Murphy

S. Holland Murphy

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Kathy Wise

Kathy Wise

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Kathy Wise is the editorial director of D Magazine. A licensed attorney, she won a CRMA Award for reporting for “The…


Photography by Elizabeth Lavin
Styling by Jamie Laubhan-Oliver
Food Styling by Lisa Martel Mohon

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