Gerald and Nadine Bechman’s West Des Moines garage is more than a place to store stuff. It’s a place for people to gather.
“You name it and we’ve hosted it in our garage… birthdays, graduations, parties, poker games and meetings. We’ve had just about everything but a bar mitzvah and a funeral,” says Gerald with a smile. “We’ve even become a destination on Facebook. People check in with it when they get here.”
The Bechmans enjoy the company of others so much they opened their garage last year to a friend of a friend for a surprise wedding. The story goes that the couple was engaged, the bride secretly planned the wedding unbeknownst to her groom and invited about 40 guests.
“The groom was a like a deer in headlights for a while when he first showed up, but it was just awesome,” says Nadine. “We’ve become friends with their friends, and I’m happy to say it worked out and they’re still married. They were married here on a Friday the 13th.”
The Bechmans have had good luck hosting informal gatherings in their garage. They say the large conference table they store in there is the centerpiece of conversation and makes people feel comfortable to talk about whatever is on their minds.
“We tell people to leave their political affiliation and social status at the door. It’s not cliquish in here,” he says. “It’s a diverse group.”
The Bechmans say their informal gatherings are an extension of their personalities, and they enjoy their status as “hosts.”
“We like to look at ourselves as outgoing people. We like to talk and joke about everything under the sun and enjoy the company of our family and friends,” Gerald says. “We like to put a smile on people’s faces.”
Gerald cautions, however, that their events are low-key.
“People might get the wrong impression and think we’re hosting drinking parties, but we’re just hanging out and talking,” he says.
In their eyes, the Bechmans say, the garage is just another room in their house. One with which they welcome friends with open arms.
“Once you’re here, everything’s cool,” Gerald says.