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Hearth inserts add sales for casual furniture retailers

Selling hearth products is a natural fit for an outdoor furniture dealer who wants to expand. Many have dabbled in the "glass and brass" end of hearth by adding accessories and some glass doors. Some have gone on to add gas logs. What is the next step? A trend that seems to be working its way south could answer that question.

For years in Chicagoland, we went through season after season selling hundreds and even thousands of gas logs at our retail stores. In the late 1990s we started to hear from manufacturers' reps that our log sales would be replaced by gas and wood inserts. They said the trend was headed our way from further north. Years went by and we saw no real switch toward this trend in our area except at the couple of local pure stove shops that did display them. In the last couple of years though the trend has reached us and is headed past us, if history is any guide.

Why is this of interest to you? Because the trend and what is fueling it could mean additional hearth sales for you as a retailer.

Three main factors have moved this product area forward. The first factor is gas and wood inserts offer fuel efficiency. In the high fuel cost environment we have seen lately, consumers are more receptive to a discussion of increased efficiency and saving money. While this was true much earlier in the colder climates, it is moving south as fuel costs rise. Secondly, advances in product technology have provided more pleasing burn patterns. The third factor involves manufacturers realizing inserts should present a pleasing look in the room (not just give off heat). This has led to a huge increase in the number and variety of finish options for both gas and wood inserts. It is easier to complement your home's decor.

We still sell gas logs. We feel we will do so for many years to come. Gas and wood insert sales have given us the chance to provide an alternative solution to our customers as they try to get the most from their fireplaces.

Providing alternatives is what specialty retail is all about. Maybe inserts are the new alternative you need to consider, too.

Chapello says three main factors have moved gas and wood inserts forward, including fuel efficiency, advances in product technology have provided more pleasing burn patterns and manufacturers realize inserts should present a pleasing look in the room and do more than just give off heat.

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