The Shadow Grows
By Tom Lassiter
Just how big is the biggest Big Ben XXL series umbrella?
Big enough to cover almost the entire width of a tennis court, which is 27 ft. for singles play.
Granted, the umbrella’s mast would get in the way of the game, and at 7 ft., 5 in., the headroom isn’t sufficient for a serve. It’s barely sufficient for 6-ft.–10 pro John Isner to walk under without instinctively ducking.
But that’s not the point. The point is that an umbrella with a 24-by-24-ft. canopy casts a huge shadow. That’s plenty of room for several outdoor dining tables, or space for enough chaise lounges for a minibus full of soccer moms.
The 24-ft.-square Big Ben XXL, by Caravita, is one big umbrella. It’s the largest Big Ben XXL umbrella, adding nearly 20 in. to the largest canopy available last season. Suggested retail pricing starts at $7,000, says Marie Hoyle, Sales and Marketing director for Caravita USA.
Options for the Big Ben XXL series include fully integrated LED lighting in addition to wind vents and other typical umbrella options.
|AKZRT from Treasure Garden.|
Most umbrella makers focused on boosting dimensions for their top-of-the-line models for this season. Like Caravita, Treasure Garden and TUUCI added bigger models while offering other, more subtle, refinements to their product lineups.
Treasure Garden has two new additions to its AKZ range of cantilever umbrellas. A 10-by-13-ft. rectangle and an 11.5-ft. square umbrella join the AKZ line, which now offers five sizes. A new frame finish, called platinum, joins bronze and black for a total of three choices.
TUUCI’s Bay Master Shade Pod allows up to four canopies to be supported by a single mast. This unique configuration enables the umbrella to literally wrap around a corner and serve hard-to-shade areas.
A four-canopy Bay Master Shade Pod provides some 256 sq. ft. of shade.
Each canopy can operate independently, says Patrick Troy, TUUCI’s vice president of Sales, Retail and Design.
|Shade Pod with four canopies from TUUCI.|
TUUCI for 2015 introduced a crank system for its smaller-mast umbrellas. It replicates the design used in TUUCI’s larger products. Everything is internal, Troy says, with no break or bulge in the pole. TUUCI’s crank-mast models carry a 15-year warranty on the mast, hubs and stainless-steel hardware.
Troy notes that all TUUCI umbrellas are built to contract market specifications, adding that all Starbucks coffee shops in the United States with outside seating feature TUUCI umbrellas.
Ed. Note: In 2014 there were 11,962 Starbucks shops in the U.S.
“That’s a great thing to be able to say,” Troy says, “when a retail customer asks, ‘Why invest in TUUCI?’”
Regardless of manufacturer, all these big umbrellas have something in common with the menu at Starbucks. They are Grande.