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--