“Retail Raves” asks one retailer to specify a product that’s making a difference in his or her business. All professionals featured in this column are selected at random.

Fitness Depot Ottawa, as the name suggests, isn’t primarily a backyard lifestyle store. The company focuses on products that promote health in many ways, and because of that we straddle several different industries.

For example, a large portion of our business comes from commercial and personal exercise equipment.

We also sell hot tubs, umbrellas and outdoor furniture as part of the company’s Porch and Patio Division.

Recently, we began carrying high-end fire pits from the Homecrest and Protégé Casual lines, and the product has sold incredibly well.

Drawing the eye

What’s innovative about our fire pits is that they operate on basic propane tanks that last for three continuous nights, so we can run them in the store 12 hours a day. That flame definitely grabs people’s attention.

We feature each fire table within a display of outdoor furniture, so customers can really picture themselves enjoying the product. People gravitate to the fire, then they may lie on the lounges or test out other furniture, which they often end up purchasing as well. The trend of customers buying the whole package has helped us keep the fire table prices low.

In fact, price is a big factor in why we’ve been able to sell out of our first three orders of these fire tables (we move at least five each weekend). Depending on the model, the cost ranges from $868 to $1,388 Canadian. No, they aren’t cheap, but our customers respond because we market them as a high-end “machine” that is so much more than throwing a Duraflame log into a flimsy metal bowl that you can buy at the garden store. 

Marketing sense

Fitness Depot participates in many consumer home shows, and we always make sure to bring fire tables along. This tactic allows us to demonstrate how simple it is to use the product. They don’t need logs, there’s no mess to clean up, and homeowners don’t have to run natural gas lines through the house and into the backyard if they want fire there. If we can use the tables so easily in the show booth, buyers should have no problem, either.

Home shows are only part of our marketing plan for the Porch and Patio Division. We do a lot of television advertising, and we also have a huge electronic sign outside the store to advertise specials. Usually we’ll include a deal related to our backyard products in the weekly ads we run. Facebook is a good place to post deals, too.

But the best method of closing a sale on a fire pit is appealing to the customer’s sense of enjoyment. We ask homeowners to picture themselves pulling up their Adirondack chairs and putting their feet up on the fire table while feeling the cool air off the water. That usually does the trick.