Who Reads Hearth & Home?
Nick Bauer, for one!
President of Empire Group.
Special Interests/Hobbies: “Running, biking, basketball, snowboarding, scuba diving, traveling, grilling, and wine. I used to like watching sports too, but the shelter-in-place is ruining that for this year.
“Go St. Louis Cardinals! Go Stanley Cup-winning St. Louis Blues!”
Problems/Issues Facing the Hearth Industry: “The COVID-19 situation has the potential to drastically harm all the independent retailers and manufacturers, such as myself who sell to them. Why can Big Boxes stay open but the independent retailers have to close? The politics of shelter-in-place are favoring one group of retailers, the Big Boxes, over another; government should not be picking winners and losers in a free economy.
“It’s driving me crazy!”
Key Trends in the Hearth Industry Today: “The biggest trend I’ve noticed over the last several years – and it’s only going to become more pronounced – is the shift to home entertainment. While being sheltered-at-home, consumers will want to take staycations.
“I’ve noticed the massive increase in online search for stay-at-home products such as grills, fire pits, fireplaces, and whole outdoor kitchens. If people aren’t going to travel for vacations, they will want to make their homes look like a vacation spot. This will help our industry, since we sell products that consumers will use to make their time at home as enjoyable as being on vacation.”
Impact of the Coronavirus on Your Business: “The impact has been enormous. The affect it has had on the company and our team members is difficult to put into words. We’re trying to plan for a crisis that the world hasn’t seen before; there is no playbook. We’ll create a plan, and a day later the governor will announce a new executive order. The plan is no longer relevant.
“It’s really difficult trying to manage a group of companies where each location is under different rules that change almost daily. The most difficult impact has been on our employees; it has been very stressful for all of us. But our team has done an amazing job handling the crisis. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Forecast for Your Sales in 2020: “As I write this, it’s early May and I would be lying to you if I told you I had a good idea of how the year is going to end. It’s my job to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That’s all I can do right now.”
Years Reading Hearth & Home: “I started working in 2007, so it’s 13 years.”
Reasons for Reading Hearth & Home: “I love reading all the dealer comments in the back of the magazine, so I always start at the back of the magazine first. I enjoy all of the local retailer articles, and hearing the stories of how they created their companies. I like reading the product articles to see what other companies are introducing – what and why.”