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Q: What events do you use to sell grills year round?

BRUCE ARONSON, The Pool & Patio Center, Metairie, La.

We used to have a Father's Day promotion where we cooked on at least one and sometimes two brands of barbecues. One year, we did a cross-promotion with Morton's Steak House where the chef from Morton's did the cooking. Over the past several years, we have found this type of promotion wasn't getting the type of return we hoped for so we stopped doing it. Instead, for Father's Day we take a full page, four-color ad out in an insert in our local paper. This insert comes out once a month at the beginning of the month. We use one image on the page with a lot of white space. Usually the image is of an outdoor kitchen. We find this brings more people in than the cooking demonstration did.

CHERYL LINDSAY, ABSCO Fireplace & Patio, Birmingham, Ala.

We regularly cook on the grills that we carry. Each year we have a widely publicized weekend event featuring John Henry Abercrombie, a former presidential barbecue chef, holding grilling seminars using all of the grills that we offer. We hold two cooking classes per day with about 40 customers attending each class. Our customers look forward to this event every year. We sell a crazy amount of rubs and spices and quite a few grills after each class.

Today, we are displaying eight to 10 grills in each of our locations and they are only FireMagic and Big Green Egg. Our highest end stocked FireMagic gas grill retails at just under $7,000 and we offer the entire Big Green Egg line up to the extra large for just under $1,000.

Since the market for outdoor kitchens is steadily increasing, things should only get busier and better for us. One big question we are constantly challenged with is, "Why should I buy a $4,000 to $5,000 grill from you, when I can get one under $1,000 down the street?" Simply put, we are not here to compete with big box retailers. You can eat dinner at a fast food restaurant or have a fine dining experience, and you can enjoy cooking and entertaining with an always reliable, high quality gas grill, or you can replace an inferior product every year or so. That's why!

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