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Apollo Award nominees: ABSCO Fireplace & Patio, Birmingham, Ala.

Nominees meet their challenges head on

Kristine Ellis -- Casual Living, September 14, 2011

A generousA generous mix of bright pillows and accessories make the ABSCO showroom pop.

WHILE SOME RETAILERS HUNKER DOWN TO WAIT out bad weather and trying times, this year's group of Apollo Award nominees stands out for their determination to create their own destinies. Their ability to adapt is exceeded only by their drive to succeed. This group sets the bar for industry excellence in today's marketplace.
Finalists will be honored and winners announced at the Apollo Awards banquet at the Field Museum on Sept. 14, during the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market in Chicago.

Multi-store | ABSCO Fireplace & Patio, Birmingham, Ala.

IN MANY WAYS, THE MASSIVE TORNADO THAT ripped through Birmingham last April set the tone for ABSCO Fireplace & Patio for 2011. The family business has participated in several tornado-relief benefits to support its community and those who suffered devastating losses, and as a result increased its visibility. In addition, many of its customers needed to replace their outdoor furniture damaged by the storm.
     At the same time, the economic hit to the area reinforced an already cautious consumers-pending trend.
     "We don't have the large tickets that we used to," said Cathy Galbreath, who manages the company's three locations with her husband, Glen Watson. "Rather than the $10,000 - $20,000 sales, $5,000 - $10,000 has been our higher-range ticket, so we are definitely seeing consumers being more conservative and buying less volume. But they come to us because they still want the quality."
     Overall, the ups and downs of the 2011 season averaged out to a pretty good year for ABSCO Fireplace & Patio.
Tight inventory control has become the norm the past few seasons, coupled with working with vendors that offer quick turn-around on reorders and special orders.

family membersFront, from left, family members Cathy Galbreath, her mother Catherine Galbreath and niece Joy Galbreath-Odom with Jaeden Odom. Back row, from left, store managers Tonya Gluth, Hope Nicholson and Melissa Greg
     "We're also definitely staying with the neutral fabrics and using lots and lots of pillows and other accessories to pop up the color," Galbreath said.
     Looking forward to the Casual Market, Galbreath is excited by the number of new fabrics that are being introduced for 2012.
     "There is going to be a lot to choose from," she said. "I normally go to Premarket, but I didn't get there this year so it is going to be very interesting."
     This is ABSCO Fireplace & Patio's second Apollo nomination. The company was founded in 1965 as Alabama Building Specialties Co. In 1977, Galbreath's parents, John and Catherine Galbreath, renamed the company and added outdoor furniture to the mix. Catherine continues to work in the business, while John Galbreath Jr. and his wife Nan manage the company's wholesale hearth division.

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