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Hearth & Home May 2018

Richard Wright
Hearth & Home Magazine

May Is Barbecue Month!

It’s the start of the season. For most (some?) of us, winter has now passed (right now it’s April 16, and we’ve just had two days of snow here in New Hampshire), the grass is green, flowers are flowering, and an older man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of char-broiled burgers, or t-bone steaks, with grilled veggies, perhaps potato salad, and definitely a cold beer or two.

To get everyone in the spirit, and to provide retailers with information and ideas, we’ve devoted the majority of this issue to barbecue (see article “It’s Party Time!”).

David Ghiz Expands in the Valley of the Sun

David Ghiz, owner of Imagine Backyard Living in Scottsdale, Arizona (Hearth & Home article “Re-Imagining Retail”, July 2017), and formerly a co-owner of Paddock Pools in Phoenix and Las Vegas, has opened a second store in an industrial part of Phoenix’s East Valley (Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Ahwatukee, and Maricopa).

This time, the concept is the opposite of the Scottsdale store; that one features gorgeous vignettes of spas, outdoor kitchens, upscale outdoor furniture, as well as private rooms where customers can test the waters.

The new venture will carry 45 or so overstock items from Jacuzzi and its affiliated brands, as well as previous year’s models, red tags, and some pre-owned selections. Together, the two stores should appeal to a very wide range of demographics.

Consider this: Since it opened in 2014, Imagine Backyard Living has become the largest volume, single-store dealer of Jacuzzi and Sundance Spas in the world.

Urban Bonfire Outdoor Kitchen

David Ghiz is not the only one branching out. Some years ago, up in Montreal, Ryan Bloom and Stefan Marchant created a very successful retail barbecue business called Urban Bonfire. Similar to a few other aggressive entrepreneurs, they didn’t wait in the store for customers to find them; they pro-actively invited them in – for food, a party, and with luck a barbecue purchase.

While sales of grills initially made up the bulk of their business, that changed. After a few years, Bloom and Marchant found themselves spending most of their time on outdoor kitchens; they also noticed that it’s not easy for a retailer to get into that business.

Their answer wasn’t to back off, it was to create another business called Urban Bonfire Outdoor Kitchen Collections. The new company made its debut at the HPBExpo in Nashville this year, and the two partners are now making it known that they want to partner with other specialty retailers throughout North America.

Having spent a few years struggling with the complexities of creating outdoor kitchens, they have eliminated most of the hassles involved, and now offer three collections, various brands of grills, a modern aesthetic, top-quality hardware, and a questionnaire retailers can use to identify a customer’s lifestyle and narrow their choices of products.

That information allows Urban Bonfire to create a 3-D plan of the project. Once approved, delivery requires only four weeks. Sounds like the solution to a busy dealer’s problems, doesn’t it?

Six years ago, we decided to concentrate every October issue on Canada. That first year, our writers were told that Canadians, due to the shortness of their warm season, would never spend the amounts of money on Outdoor Room products that they were seeing their southern neighbors spend.

Well, according to Bloom and Marchant, they have been spending 85% of their time on outdoor kitchens (see article “Urban Bonfire Outdoor Kitchens”). Never say never!

More Stories in this Issue

Leadership: The Competitive Advantage

By Mark Brock

Despite their humility and self-effacing qualities, great leaders go about their jobs with stoic determination and fierce resolve to do whatever it takes to make their companies great.

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Cooks and Their Books

By Lisa Readie Mayer

Retailers, competition pros, and other experts are releasing new books on the latest barbecue trends. You can too!

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2018 March Business Climate

In early April Hearth & Home sent a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio and barbecue products, asking them to compare March 2018 sales to March 2017. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 186 useable returns.

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Parting Shot: Ancient Party Barn

In Postling, Kent, the architectural firm of Liddicoat & Goldhill undertook the restoration and renovation of a cluster of historic agricultural buildings into a getaway for relaxing and gathering.

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