We sold trampolines, and they were amazing. We had enough showroom to have a couple on display; we kept an inventory in our warehouse that customers could pick up and assemble themselves. They were great to have in the showroom as kids would be occupied bouncing and jumping around while their parents looked at spas. The salespeople loved it. Eventually, they would persuade the parents to go on the trampoline with the kids. It certainly helped with the sale.
Valley Pool & Spa
Five in the Pittsburgh area (Sixth coming 2018)
ERIC CASSIDY, Vice President Valley Pool & Spa
We have literally tried everything over the years — patio furniture, game tables, chairs that hang from a porch roof or tree, fire pits, grills… If the dealer does not have the square footage to commit, you can’t be in the business of additional outdoor products by displaying two or three options. If you can’t display 12 or more options in those product categories, stay focused on your core hot tub product.
Our biggest failure was fire pits. We really thought there was a market. We offered 10 or 12 different fire pits, and having campfires is a good thing in this climate. What we underestimated in our market was that most communities allow open burn. So people just have makeshift fire pits with a couple boulders and a fire pit ring; there wasn’t a big market for a small, contained fire pit. That’s something someone would want to look at if they ever want to consider offering an array of fire pits.
Best Hot Tubs
Farmingdale, Westbury and Windham New York
BILL RENTER, President Best Hot Tubs
To keep the store open, we have to focus on the things we really make money on and the things that sell on a regular basis. When we first opened, it was really an outdoor living store. We were originally landscape contractors, and those people would buy things for their outdoor living space like fire pits, outdoor furniture, hot tubs, umbrellas and barbecues. What I didn’t know at the time was how powerful online shopping was. I was new to retail and bought 20 barbecues; we sold one or two. We ended up giving away a lot of stuff. Other than hot tubs, high-end fire pit tables made by Outdoor GreatRoom sold well. You can buy those things online cheaper than what we’re willing take as a minimum profit. Now we use them for decoration.