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Hearth & Home December 2016

2016 Retail: Past & Future

By Richard Wright

Hearth & Home talked to retailers throughout North America – hearth dealers had a Forgettable year, patio dealers had a Very Good Year, and barbecue dealers had a Memorable year.

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.

Click the links below to read about retailers in your industry.

More Stories in this Issue

Interesting Times

The election is finally over and you’re either ecstatic, happy, relieved, very upset, frightened – or an amalgam of all those emotions. Facing the unknown, we all have the tendency to hunker down, close our wallets, and wait for the world to settle down (as if it ever does).

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Showroom Sales

By Mark Brock

From manufacturer, to rep, to retail warehouse, to showroom floor where it’s all up to the salesperson, she or he is the only one in the chain who actually talks to a customer.

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Selling Quality

By Bill Sendelback

In Albuquerque, Patio and Hearth Co. focuses on the high end, and that has proven to be a winning formula.

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PATIO: A Very Good Year

By Tom Lassiter

As 2016 comes to a close, patio retailers find they have little to complain about, and they’re already looking forward to 2017.

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By Tom Lassiter

That’s the sound of the eight ball dropping into the corner pocket as Great Gatherings runs the table around D.C.

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Not a Restaurant!

By Lisa Readie Mayer

In Indianapolis, Chef JJ straddles the worlds of hospitality and retail sales, and he’s doing very well in both arenas.

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2016 October Business Climate

In early November Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, barbecue and patio products, asking them to compare October 2016 sales to October 2015. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 182 useable returns.

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Parting Shot: Shock & Awe

In “The Godfather Part II,” Michael Corleone meets Apollonia Vitelli and it’s love at first sight. His Sicilian bodyguards call it being struck by “The Thunderbolt.” We felt similarly, but for a different reason, upon first encountering the incredible work of sculptress Malgorzata Chodakowska.

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