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MULTI-STORE CATEGORY Yard Art Patio & Fireplace Irving, Texas

Yard ArtThe Yard Art management team with Butch Wallace, center.
BUTCH WALLACE went into the 2010 season feeling more optimistic but also more diligent.
     "Our planning process is always intense, but we probably took a little more time and worked a lot harder at it this year because business has been a little tougher," said Wallace, co-owner of Yard Art Patio & Fireplace with Deborah Scott.
     That combination played out well, with consumers balancing their concerns about the economy with a willingness to invest in their homes. Bad weather plagued first quarter sales but then business picked up.
     "April and May were really good for us so there did seem to be some pent-up demand out there," Wallace said. "The customer is still cautious but it seems like while they might be conservative in other areas, they are spending on their homes."
     Yard Art has five locations. Established in 1993, the family business started with a store in Colleyville, a suburb of Fort Worth.
Wallace and Scott spent eight years before opening their second location, giving themselves time to fully learn the nuances of the outdoor furniture business after realizing that their initial emphasis on concrete and statuary didn't offer the potential for growth they sought.
High ceilingsHigh ceilings allow for open display of umbrellas, adding to the colorful display of casual furnishings and hearth products inside Yard Art
      Once on the right track, the business quickly expanded, opening its most recent location, Designer's Patio, in Irving in 2007.
     Wallace and Scott attribute their success to a combination of factors. They focus on an exceptional selection of merchandise, provide uncompromising customer service and create a comfortable shopping environment.
     While not a hard sell environment, Yard Art's staff of about 50 makes sure that customers feel welcomed and informed.
     Yard Art won the Apollo Award in the multi-store category in 2004, and was a finalist in 2008.
     "We felt better going into this season and it turned out better than last year, so we're happy," Wallace said.

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