Multistore Category: Yard Art Patio & Fireplace, Irving, Tex.
Jay McIntosh -- Casual Living, September 1, 2008
With four stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Yard Art Patio & Fireplace is in a pocket of the U.S. where the economy isn't so bad. But while co-owners Butch Wallace and Deborah Scott say the local economy is relatively stable, they have still been forced to make more of an effort to generate traffic.
“We do a combination of newspaper and radio advertising and a little bit of television,” Wallace said. “We've kept with those plans and have spent a little extra to keep them coming in.”
The first Yard Art store opened in 1994 in suburban Fort Worth. Its focus was on concrete and statuary, which soon turned to patio furniture when Wallace and Scott saw more demand for that category. They attribute growth over the years to an exceptional selection of merchandise, uncompromising customer service and a casual, comfortable shopping environment in each of their stores.
This year, however, service may be what keeps their business level, and their service is pretty good. Yard Art's only other Apollo Award nomination came in 1994, and it won the award.
“We believe in relationship selling,” Wallace said. “We're not a hard-sell company by any stretch. We hope when a customer comes into the store we make them feel welcome.”
Yard Art has about 50 employees and all of them are prepared to sell and deliver top-notch service.
“We try to get [vendor] sales reps to come in for product education as much as possible,” he said. “And some of our area reps have a good understanding of different selling techniques and will come in to help us with that.”
Wallace and Scott also make sure to put money back into their stores.
“We devote a certain amount of money each year to some sort of improvement, whether it's capital or merchandising,” Wallace said. “This year, we did some painting and some re-striping of the parking lots in the spring.”
These improvements may seem small, but they're part of the big overall effort to keep their customers happy.