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Hearth & Home February 2020

Richard Wright
Hearth & Home Magazine

Selling Shade

The year was 1967. We landed at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, a deep-water port situated on a peninsula of sand housing 50,000 men – and a few women – tasked to receive and move 98% of all the supplies required to support the 500,000+ men in the field. On top of that sand, an asphalt road had been laid down so that men and goods could be moved more easily. 

The heat in Vietnam was 120°F day-after-day during the hot season. For new arrivals in-country, it was debilitating. 

We watched the asphalt road melt and turn into a black liquid stream moving across the sand (I guess the asphalt is much better here in the States). 

A few fun loving guys were cracking eggs on a section of asphalt that had not yet turned to liquid  – not to eat, but merely to see if the asphalt would cook the eggs. It did cook them, sunny-side up, and very rapidly.

In 2019 there were 29 days in which the temperature in Phoenix, Arizona, was over 110°F, and another 99 days in which it was over 100°F. That, too, is debilitating. It’s no wonder that even those who have spent their lives in Phoenix find it difficult to tolerate the heat.

The other nine cities making up the 10 Hottest Cities in the U.S. in 2019 are the following: Las Vegas, Nevada; Tucson, Arizona; Riverside, California; San Antonio, Texas; Miami, Florida; Houston, Texas; Fresno, California; Dallas, Texas; and Orlando, Florida.  

My Point? Vietnam was incredibly hot. What’s happening now in the U.S. and in countless places worldwide is similar. There is a great need for shade products, and that need will increase as each year goes by.

If you’re selling outdoor products and not displaying a substantial number of shade products, then you’re leaving money on the table. (See article "Blocking the Sun".)

Outdoor Living in the City

It has been over 20 years since Hearth & Home began discussing the Outdoor Room trend. It began in the backyards of California homeowners, and slowly moved across the country, primarily in the suburbs and mainly in the Sunbelt states. Then it moved north, to states such as Michigan, and Massachusetts, and upstate New York. 

We can recall writing an article about a company in Chicago that was creating beautiful Outdoor Rooms on the rooftops of skyscrapers – that was at least 15 years ago. In researching an article on Outdoor Rooms in urban areas, writer Lisa Readie Mayer found that the trend is red hot in those areas. “It’s gaining momentum” she writes, “in multifamily apartment buildings, office skyscrapers, hotels, restaurants, trendy bars, downtown convention centers, and other commercial spaces.”

In short, Outdoor Rooms are flourishing in urban areas throughout the land, and well into areas such as Vancouver. Christopher Myers, founder of Just Terraces in New York City, expects the trend to continue. Myers has carved out an exciting career for himself; he has created many residential and commercial Outdoor Rooms in New York, Paris, London, and other cities. 

Myers says the trend is accelerating. (See article "Summer in the City".)

Meet Pat Sullivan

Sullivan purchased Sullivan Hardware and Garden from his Dad back in 1954. When a Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse moved in, he knew he had to do something different. First he traveled around the Midwest, visiting other garden centers and hardware stores. Then he created a list of categories “that we wanted to do better than everybody else.”

What he created is really stupendous. (See article "Entertainment Is Key".)

More Stories in this Issue

Fire Outside

By Bill Sendelback

Some may still consider outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, and fire tables as niche products, but if so, then it’s a nicely lucrative niche.

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Entertainment Is Key

By Tom Lassiter

Pat Sullivan knew he had to be bigger and better to combat the Big Box stores and the Internet – just look at him now!

» Continue

Sloow Groowth

By Bill Sendelback

New Home Construction ended 2019 48% down from the 2006 peak of 1,654,000 single-family homes.

» Continue

On Fire!

By Lisa Readie Mayer

Pellet grills are selling exceptionally well, perhaps because they provide the perfect trifecta of flavor, convenience, and smart features.

» Continue

Blocking the Sun

By Richard Wright

Shade products are in the front lines of defense from skin damage, and 90% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun.

» Continue

Embracing Tangent

By Tom Lassiter

From furniture manufacturers, to retailers, to consumers, everyone loves Tangent, and its ability to supply product consistently, and innovate constantly.

» Continue

2019 December Business Climate

In early January, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare December 2019 sales to December 2018. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 216 usable returns.

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