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Hearth & Home December 2017

2017 Retail: Past & Future

By Richard Wright

This is the third December issue where the contents are primarily from specialty retailers. Who better to answer questions such as, How were your sales in 2017? What’s your forecast for 2018?

Once again 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 region. That’s 16 retailers each for a total of 48 retailers. In turn, they were split into the three industries that we cover – Hearth, Patio and Barbecue.

Each writer was also asked to write an in-depth article on one particular retailer.

Bill Sendelback found that, after a few very mediocre years, it’s fair to say that 2017 was a good year for hearth products. Gas fireplaces and inserts were two of the strongest hearth product categories this year, and electric fireplaces are finally gaining acceptance among hearth retailers. The fact that more homebuilders are now embracing electric fireplaces could signal a tipping point (in the right direction) for a product that has had difficulty being accepted by the specialty retail network.

Lisa Readie-Mayer tells us that pellet grills are finally on a roll. We recall many moons ago (close to 30 years) being introduced to a perfectly cooked, and very moist, chicken on a Whitfield pellet grill while in Bend, Oregon. At the time, we thought it was a category that would really take off. Now, 30 years later, that prophesy has come to pass.

Sales of patio furniture were all over the board, according to Tom Lassiter. But resin furniture appears to have sold very well throughout most of the country. Fire pits continue their amazing move into millions of backyards, and wood furniture – primarily teak and ipe – had another good year.

More Stories in this Issue

HEARTH: A Good Year for Most

By Bill Sendelback

It has been a surprisingly good year for hearth products, as well as a break-out year for sales of electric fireplaces through the specialty channel.

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Core Values

By Bill Sendelback

It’s a family affair at Hearth & Home in Mount Prospect, Illinois, a business that began in 1971 with a mission of taking care of its customers.

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PATIO: Not All Roses

By Tom Lassiter

Economic indicators were pointing in the right direction, and for many patio dealers, the season was good, but not great.

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BARBECUE: A Generally Good Year

By Lisa Readie Mayer

In general, it was a good year for barbecue sales through the specialty retail channel; the major problem was with the negative impact of Internet sales.

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The Carys of Wichita

By Lisa Readie Mayer

All Things Barbecue is a superbly run operation, and a role model for all specialty retailers in the barbecue business.

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2017 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 2017 sales to October 2016. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 214 useable returns.

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Parting Shot: Smart Move

Thirty miles from Phoenix, north on the 101, you will find Taliesin West, previously the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright, who died in 1959, and now home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the School of Architecture at Taliesin.

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