2016 Retail: Past & Future
By Richard Wright
For a clear view of business this past year, it’s best to go to the pros, those on the frontlines who interact directly with the tough, deal-loving, Internet-shopping, frustrating consumers.
For the second year, our December issue is focused on the hearth, patio and barbecue specialty retailers, their experience this past year and expectations for 2017.
We divided the country into four regions – Northeast, South, Midwest and West. Then we assigned three writers the task of interviewing four specialty retailers in each of those regions – that’s 16 each for a total of 48 retailers.
Bill Sendelback handled the Hearth retailers, as usual.
Lisa Readie Mayer focused on Barbecue retailers.
Tom Lassiter took on the Patio retailers – his specialty.
In addition, each writer was asked to write an in-depth profile of one particular retailer.
Sendelback elected to profile Patio & Hearth Co. in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a company having the best year of its existence, and eyeing the tempting area of Santa Fe, just an hour-and-a-half up north, for a second patio store.
Mayer decided on Chef JJs with two stores in Indianapolis. His is a business plan dramatically different from that of most barbecue specialty stores; it’s focused on food, hospitality and education.
Lassiter was intrigued by the rapid growth of Great Gatherings (three new stores in 2016), and a product mix that is heavy on pool tables, wine and beer cabinets, glasses and accessories, and more.
That’s a total of 51 retailers interviewed, which is certainly not a reliable survey number, nor is it intended to be. That being said, we’re sure you’ll find interesting ideas that may aid you in running your business; you’ll also notice various trends that stand out as a number of retailers mention the same products and the same companies.
These are your peers, fighting the same battles and confronting the same issues that you are.