hot tub store billiards
Photo: Galaxy Home Recreation

Billiard Boost

Game tables enjoy unexpected popularity

Photo: Galaxy Home Recreation

While the rampant requests for spas wasn’t a huge shock this past year, the eternal runner-up — billiards and game tables — came as more of a surprise. With people spending so much more time at home, all things home entertainment have seen a boost, but it’s tough to predict how long the newfound popularity will last.

Pre-pandemic, spa dealers may have brought on billiards and game tables to bolster sales through the slower season. Despite seeming like a natural fit to round out the homeowner’s entertainment needs, they may not have been as easy to sell.

Now, some dealers are finding it takes practically no effort to sell pool tables and game tables. “The sales have increased for sure,” says Dave Johnson, owner and president of Take A Break Spas & Billiards in Springville, Utah. “I think the sales process has been easier as well. If you have it, they want it.”

A surge in sales is always welcome, but it doesn’t come without challenges; sometimes there really is such a thing as too much demand. “The game room category has had an uptick with everyone staying at home,” explains Ronak Shah, president and CEO of Galaxy Home Recreation in Oklahoma City. “As the 2020 fall season neared, most game room manufacturers were out of inventory and backordered for almost a year. That has dampened our game room sales for 2021.”

Billiards Manufacturers
OLHAUSEN: Pool tables, shuffleboards, foosball, air hockey, table tennis
BRUNSWICK: Pool tables, shuffleboards, foosball, air hockey, table tennis, putting greens
IMPERIAL: Pool tables, shuffleboards, foosball, air hockey, table tennis, skeeball
PRESIDENTIAL: Pool tables, shuffleboards, foosball, air hockey, table tennis
PLANK AND HIDE: Pool tables, shuffleboards
LEGACY: Pool tables, shuffleboards, foosball, air hockey, table tennis

Mark Machayya, owner and president of HotSpring Hot Tubs of Northern Minnesota in Bemidji, has been dealing with low supply as well. “Sales have been up, demand is very high and close to outpacing supply,” he says. Machayya is predicting this level of demand will stick around for another year or so.

Johnson says his business will be sticking with the category even if demand levels off. As he explains, it’s been a part of his business for years, and he has no intention of changing its regular offerings.

Michael Swartz, owner of Heavenly Times Hot Tubs in Dillon, Colorado, has similar feelings about sticking with billiards and game tables. His business is a long-time seller of Brunswick tables and intends to stay with the category.

The procedure for selling both hot tubs and billiards/game tables is similar, which makes for a natural pairing. “Our approach with each category is to provide the customer a turnkey package that allows them to fully enjoy the product at the onset of ownership,” Shah says. “Customers get turned off when they don’t have the right tools and accessories to fully use their product.”

Shah thinks the game table trend is temporary, but believes the products work well alongside hot tubs. “For our business model, game room is a product extension from our core backyard categories,” he says. “It gives us the ability to be a four-season, year-round business. The game room category also allows us to offer more to our existing customers.”

Swartz has an additional take on the natural fit between hot tubs and game tables. “If a customer can afford a pool table, typically they can afford a hot tub and vice versa,” he says. “It’s the same customer, so a lot of times we are a one-stop shop. It keeps our sales and service staff busy year round since these two products have different sales seasons.”

Whether to include billiards and game tables alongside hot tubs comes down to what works best for your business and customer base. Swartz sums up his ultimate decision to include the game table category: “I wanted both a hot tub and billiard table at my house. So if I want something like this, I have to sell it as well.”