By Eliana Barriga
Publisher and Managing Editor for The Retail Observer
I spent the first half of June traveling in Italy visiting some of our manufacturing partners. Factories were toured, products were reviewed, and as always, we were showered with wonderful Italian hospitality focusing on food, family and
discovering new friendships.
It's now July and back at home, we are in the height of summertime – sun,
fun, and outdoor entertaining is at its finest. As we gather around the BBQ cooking in the late afternoon and evening, we free ourselves of the world and put our To-Do lists on the backburner for a few hours. This time is for creating a sense of community, to come together, prepare and cook, eat and drink, and gather around the family table to unwind with food, games, stories, family, and each other.
The outdoor dining experience is more than the cooking equipment itself. It's the environment as a whole that creates an atmosphere of warmth, delight, safety and fun – the perfect ambiance to connect. The lighting, garden, furniture, and comforts are what help create an inviting space to be in. In a way, we are re-creating a culture that our society as a whole has forgotten - the importance of "downtime". In most of Europe, they take the month of August off, pack up and take the family to the seashore to spend an entire month together relaxing, eating, drinking and having fun together. It’s the connection that we all crave.
We need to redefine what it is that we need, adding back in what has been missing in our workaholic culture; a sense of connection and sharing through food and wine that cultures around the world have been doing for centuries. Outdoor living is a strong and growing market. How much of this market share do you want to own? How do you promote the concept to your customers? Create the feeling of gathering and sharing in your own showrooms, one that invites your shoppers to dream and imagine themselves doing this at home with their friends and loved ones. Become the "go to" place for finding all the elements that build the environment of entertaining at its finest.
Here's to connecting--
By Moe Lastfogel
Director of Sales and Marketing for The Retail Observer
An interesting fact: While this U.S. federal holiday commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, Congress voted to declare independence two days earlier, on July 2 — it took two more days to finalize the Declaration.
Happy 4th of July! It's America's independence day, when we revel with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, and family reunions. In addition to political speeches, ceremonies, and various other public and private events, we celebrate the history, government, and traditions of the United States.
In the retail world, the days before this holiday are some of the busiest of the year, and the time leading up to it is filled with mailings, social media and signage for the upcoming holiday bargains — sales of appliances, consumer electronics and bedding fill the air. Barbecues and coolers seem to fly out the door. Grocery stores can‘t seem to keep enough meat, chips, pies and ice on the shelves. Firework stands fill parking lots all over (where legal) and American flag merchandise is available everywhere.
As with many holidays, sometimes the event's true meaning gets left behind in all the fun and fanfare, and I think its important to remember the day's history. To me, this holiday is about the freedoms we are afforded as Americans. Yes, I love the food, music and fireworks, but it means so much more. It's time for family and friends to get together and remember this country’s rocky beginnings and the ultimate outcome that our forefathers struggled to give us. It's about the fight for independence from tyranny and oppression from those who would take our freedom. And while all nations have their struggles and areas for improvement, we do live in a place where we can choose our own destiny and create what we want with the resources available.
So, next time you light a sparkler and enter a pie eating contest, enjoy the fun, and take time to remember the freedoms you have been given.