Although the park has been open more than a year, a multitude of motorists drive by MainStreet America every day and likely wonder what could be housed inside the 45,000-square-foot mansion and the dozen custom homes along I-45.
"That [is] probably our biggest challenge—people don't know what it is," CEO Mike Feigin said. "They might show up at the front door and go, 'What is it?' And when they come back out four hours later, they go 'Ah, this was awesome. This is the greatest experience I've ever had.'"
The brainchild of Feigin, owner of custom homebuilder DesignTech Homes, MainStreet America showcases 12
different custom homes with a twist. Not only can consumers tour the custom homes and get design ideas for themselves through the constantly updated decor, but they can scan and educate themselves about the products inside.
Feigin said the park, which opened in February 2013, took 12 years to open after he created the first business plan in the early 2000s. He concocted the idea through attending trade shows.
"I went to trade shows, and we'd see a lot of really neat products and be able to engage the manufacturer and talk to them," he said. "Then you'd leave that trade show and you'd never really see the products or how they were used."
Customers can walk the 420,000 square feet of showroom space and learn more about each product thanks to the Technological Educational Devices—hand-held scanners developed by MainStreet— given to them before they enter the park.
"That was one of the main things—[as] an educational experience—was to be able to educate the consumer and have them know what they're looking at," he said.
While some display items are not available for purchase on-site, with the addition of the furniture store, customers can purchase thousands of pieces of furniture, decorations and accessories throughout the homes, Feigin said. Even the homes themselves are for sale.
"If you love the home that much, we'll build it for you, but if you like 50 percent of it and you like 50 percent of another house, we'll combine those two together and build whatever you like," he said.
In addition to the culinary school and restaurant housed inside, MainStreet also hosts special events, including live music, farmers markets and Christmas on Main- Street, a series of holiday events in which each house is decorated for Christmas.
Most customers come from the Houston area, but Feigin said the park sees customers from every state in the U.S.
"Every time I visit my son in Houston, I tell my husband to take me here," Chicago resident Susan Schulze said. "[The park] gives you all these design ideas. I just love this place so much."