When I was a kid, I loved board games. There’s something wonderful about sharing a few hours in the company of friends and family in playful competition. But it’s been years since I’ve played any, and I had long since forgotten what fun they can be. So when my family and I recently stumbled upon a place called Game Haus Café in Glendale, Calif., we couldn’t resist.

Game Haus is a board game café where, for an all-you can-play $5 cover charge, you can try practically every imaginable board game ever invented, from the ubiquitous (Monopoly, Life, et al.) or nostalgic (Mystery Date, anyone?) to the latest Euro-games (Agricola, a European game about farming). The café also offers light fare and refreshments. We wound up spending the entire afternoon there.

As it turns out, board games are starting to be part of the zeitgeist. The rise of social media has fostered a thirst for face-to-face interactions, and board games seem to fit the bill for many. Those who have spotted this trend have jumped on the opportunity to create an inviting space for gamers to gather — namely, board game cafés, many of which are so busy, they sometimes require reservations to snag a table. When I mentioned what I thought was a hot new trend to my brother, he surprised me by saying that he knew someone who was planning to open one in his area after seeing how popular they are in other cities.

Identifying trends and finding ways to capitalize on them is always tricky. But trickier still is doing so in a competitive market such as the pool and backyard industry.

Luckily for us, this month’s Backyard Style contributor, Frank May of The Great Backyard Place, describes how he’s mined the popular website Pinterest to find the latest local backyard trends, which he then uses to develop product lines. His latest product, hanging beds, came as a result of meticulous tracking of such DIY items on the site. But the biggest takeaway is his emphasis on what’s local. Specifically, what kinds of products interest those in your area? Tailoring your product offerings based on those observations is key to driving new business.

Trends also can serve to drive technology. This is certainly true of the advances in vinyl liner applications, where the need to accommodate the homeowners’ desire for more customized pool features has resulted in innovative installation methods. In “Vinyl as a First Resort,” Nate Traylor profiles two projects that highlight the new possibilities in vinyl liner pool design and describes how they are achieved.