May 1, 2016

Gazebo sales making a comeback

Bernie Carr points to the historic gazebo in Brandon’s Central Park.

Robert Layman / Staff Photo

Bernie Carr points to the historic gazebo in Brandon’s Central Park.

For Bernie Carr, the gazebo that anchors Brandon’s Central Park holds fond memories dating back many years.

“I remember walking down, when I was probably 8 years old, to a Rotary auction that was held in that same gazebo,” Carr said.

The gazebo represents the heart and soul of the life of many towns throughout the state. The Brandon gazebo is the central location for a number of events, ranging from free summer concerts and the chamber’s annual auction, to celebrations on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

This role is certainly tied to local business, said Carr, who is the executive director of the Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce.

“It definitely has the visual impact of kind of cementing what a small-town New England village looks like,” he said.

Throughout the state, private residents and businesses have also driven gazebo sales for years, and these sales have been moving steadily upward ever since the recession dealt the building industry its first crushing blow in 2008.

Since that year, gazebo buyers have gradually increased their spending more and more on these scenic luxury items.

Robert Therrien, owner of The Carriage Shed in White River Junction, said his business went from selling 53 gazebos in 2007 to selling 20 of them in 2008. Each year has seen a steady uptick in gazebo sales since then.

“They are coming back,” Therrien said.

The gazebo represents the heart and soul of the life of many towns throughout the state. The Brandon gazebo is the central location for a number of events, ranging from free summer concerts and the chamber’s annual auction, to celebrations on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

He said the higher-end gazebos made from vinyl or wood have been selling the most during this comeback. Last week, he said the business had in its yard a high-end, 14-foot octagon gazebo with a double-roof and a cupola that was ordered by a client with a huge amount of property. He said gazebo customers have been making changes to their properties more and more.

“They’re starting to spend more money on the luxury items,” he said.

In addition, Therrian has done gazebo business with municipalities in the past, such as the town of Hancock last year. Companies are also in the mix — Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has six gazebos from The Carriage Shed.

“We’ve got one right here going to TomTom (in Lebanon, New Hampshire),” he said last week.

Like The Carriage Shed and a number of other companies, Little House by Andre in Colchester gets Amish-style gazebos from Pennsylvania.

Andre Plouffe, general manager at Little House by Andre, has also seen a gradual increase since the 2008 downturn. He said gazebos account for 15 to 20 percent of the sales at his business.

“People are a little bit freer with their money than they have been,” Plouffe said. “A lot of people have been putting some stuff off, and people are putting a little more money into the pure-fun type of stuff.”

Most of his gazebo customers are private residents.

“We’ve done some businesses and senior homes … but it is mostly just residents,” Plouffe said.

He added, “The wooden ones do typically outsell the vinyl ones, only because the vinyl ones are usually 25 percent more (expensive).”

David Livingston Jr., sales manager at Livingston Farm Landscape in Bristol, reported a steady increase in gazebo sales over the last five years, driven by the gradual economic recovery.

“People just have more money to spend compared to eight or nine years ago,” he said.

Livingston said the conventional octagon gazebo remains the most popular type.

“We feel when people envision getting a gazebo, they want more of the traditional style,” he said.

The same economic trend has boosted gazebo sales at Garden Time in Rutland as well.

Tom McMillen, who’s in his third year as Garden Time’s outdoor product salesman in Rutland, has seen an increasing number of gazebo buyers each of those years.

“We sell more earlier in the season (and) later in the season — typically we’ve got them on sale at those times,” McMillen said.

He said people are “getting more comfortable” spending on these products again. McMillen noted that, since the downturn, the economy hasn’t come back to where it used to be.

“It’s taken a while for people to get more used to the level that everything got down to, in general,” he said.

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