Casual Living Magazine FeatureThe history of outdoor furnishings, like all retail businesses, is one of continuous change.
In recent years, the industry has moved from garden supply stores to stand-alone patio stores, to sections within conventional furniture retailers and to the aisles of big box retailers like Target and Home Depot. But what has perhaps been the biggest business disruption in retail in the U.S. has come with the increasing popularity of online sales.
The Pew Research Center uncovered that in 2000, just 22% of Americans had made a purchase online; today, that figure is greater than 80%. Increased online usage has brought new competition from such big online retailers as Amazon and Overstock, both of which have offered new ways to market, sell and deliver outdoor furnishings.
Large brick-and-mortar retailers have begun pursuing a presence online. Likewise, smaller companies have begun carving out their online niches as well, thus taking part in one of the latest disruptions in the outdoor furnishings category.
One, Starfire Direct, had to convince manufacturers more than a decade ago that online is here to stay; a second, Boxhill, has successfully made the leap from landscape design to landscape furnishings.
Jonathan Burlingham, president of Starfire Direct, says that his firm, which has been in business since 2007, emphasizes fire features and a variety of accents and accessories.
“Since we are a small business of less than 30 people, we do not set out to be the cheapest,” Burlingham says. “Our mission is to use our expert industry knowledge to help our customers find the right products that will bring value and comfort to their everyday lives.”
Based in Temecula, California, Starfire began with the idea that outdoor living products did not have to be sold only in large showrooms. Instead, they could thrive online. “For years, I had worked in the outdoor living space industry as a top salesman,” Burlingham says. “This is where my inspiration for Starfire Direct was seeded. After becoming tired of working long hours and having to make many sacrifices, I decided to make my vision a reality. With just an idea, a $50 investment and my deep desire to improve my work-life balance, Starfire Direct was born.”
The online aspect has both business and personal advantages. “The entire goal of Starfiredirect.com was to focus online so that I (and now our employees) could have the time and flexibility to focus on family, health and personal passions,” Burlingham says.
He recalls that back in 2007, many manufacturers were slow to warm to the idea of selling their products online and wanted to focus on what they knew: brick-and-mortar stores.
“However, when manufacturers saw that sales were coming in for those that were willing to give online a chance, and that I was committed to maintaining their brand standards, more and more manufacturers were willing to give me the opportunity I needed to take the industry in a new direction,” Burlingham says. “Since then we’ve continued to pioneer relationships with companies that have never had an online presence.”
What differentiates Starfire Direct is its “why.”
“Whether it’s choosing the right color of fire glass to enhance the ambiance or bringing a fire-pit concept drawn on a napkin into reality, Starfire Direct is ready to listen and deliver,” Burlingham says.
ARTICLE BY Marc Barnes
Casual Living Magazine
December 20, 2018
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The talented and knowledgeable staff of Starfire Direct pride themselves on being experts in the field of fire features, outdoor living, and beyond. Always at the forefront of upcoming trends and industry breakthroughs, the team at SD is ready and willing to help you make your dream space a reality, once piece at a time. Our business is helping you to Reignite Your Life.