Dating back to 1835, Paine’s Patio on Cape Cod finds an edge with outdoor focus

Dating back to 1835, Paine’s Patio on Cape Cod finds an edge with outdoor focus

Many patio retailers have grown out of full-line furniture stores, drawing on the expertise of generations of family ownership.

But not many can talk about being in business for a little more than 20 years and drawing on six generations and more than 160 years of experience.

Doug Shearer

Paine’s Patio and Nautical & Nice of Pocasset, Massachusetts, grew out of Paine’s Furniture, which first opened its doors in Boston in 1835. Owner Doug Shearer has effectively taken the furniture business outside, to take advantage of the outdoor recreational opportunities on Cape Cod.

Shearer says that merchandising, product assortment and lead times are all important going into this season, given that most of the market involves second homes in a three- to four-month season.

“It makes it important to have as much as possible on hand and when need be, for custom orders, try to steer folks towards manufacturers with the lead times that are only two to three weeks out,” says Shearer.

He says that these days of instant gratification in all things retail means that it’s important to stock varied options of furniture and accessories from multiple manufacturers.

“Presenting that assortment to the consumer when they first walk into a store is also paramount to a retailer’s success,” says Shearer. “Part of good presentation is making sure to rotate displays so they don’t become stale to the eye.”

It’s also important to be able to pivot and provide custom orders, while keeping up with manufacturer lead times so that the customer can be kept fully informed.

The biggest challenge this spring and summer turned out to be finding those to deliver the goods — and the biggest solution turned out to be good ol’ word-of-mouth.

“We’re pleased with the season so far and as in previous years, we’ll anticipate a slowdown as summer progresses,” says Shearer. “That is due, much in part, to Cape Cod being a more seasonal area than other parts of the region. We’ve always found that our customers shop ahead in the spring so that they’re ready and set to go out and enjoy their patios, decks and yards come the July Fourth weekend. Traditionally, we’ll hold a clearance sale later in the season to generate sales and reduce overstock. We often have customers who ask about the timing of our yearly sales event, and it’s consistently successful.”

To get the word out, Paine’s Patio uses a multimedia, audience-targeted approach.

“Television and streaming are the best ways to present what we offer — ‘a picture speaks 1,000 words,’ and our campaigns on those platforms are specifically targeted both by audience and geographic location,” says Shearer. “They also provide the opportunity, via streaming, to reach ‘cord cutters.’

“Our local radio campaigns allow us add additional exposure and frequency of our messages and serve us particularly well for special sales events. We also utilize Facebook, including boosting by geography and interests, as well as Instagram. Our monthly newsletter currently goes out to over 1,800 customers, and we keep it strickly to one email per month so as not to annoy our subscribers. In-store specials are promoted with bright ‘can’t miss me’ signage and by our sales staff. Lastly, as we are located on a busy, main thoroughfare, our front lawn display of multicolored Seaside Casual Adirondacks does a truly fabulous job in drawing attention to us.”

To choose what’s being offered, Shearer depends on a combination of working with those he knows and trusts, in terms of product quality and, just as importantly, their customer service to retailers like him.

“Lead times also play a factor in our buying decisions, as do price points,” says Shearer. “We also attend ICFA markets when we’re able, to take the pulse on what’s new in the industry.”

To set themselves apart, Shearer depends on quality backed by service, which he acknowledges is an old-fashioned concept, especially in these days of instant-everything.

“But it’s been a policy as native to us as our New England roots,” he says. “From the start, we knew that people put their dreams into their homes and purchases into the store that made them come true. We’ve provided those dreams with their reality. The most distinguished outdoor furnishings for every type of home. Collections of quality at many price levels. The stability of our old name and our ongoing reputation. People know they can count on Paine’s Patio and that we bring the best in service and goods today, same as what began in 1835.”

Shearer says he welcomes the opportunity to compete both with full-line furniture stores and with online retailers as well.

“Our team is experienced and educated specifically on outdoor furniture and accessories, not ‘this, that and the other thing,’ and our customers can easily see the difference between Paine’s Patio and a full-line furniture store,” he says. “Think of a supermarket with a choice of three items or a specialty store with 20 choices.”

Shearer adds that online’s no match for Paine’s Patio.

“Quality outdoor furniture is an investment, and online retailers just can’t offer what our 10,000-square-foot showroom and three decks can,” he says. “Customers can come in, see, touch, feel, sit back and get comfortable in the furniture they’re considering.

“We’re also open year-round, which lends to our ability to provide top-notch, on-site customer service when needed. Amazon pages give customer service, how? Answers questions, even the smallest ones, how?”

Any advice for struggling casual retailers today?

“Make sure your marketing is directed to your target customer(s),” says Shearer. “Advertising is an investment, but if you’re not utilizing the proper platforms including video (TV and streaming), local radio and social media, you’re missing the mark — think ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Be involved with your community as far as sponsoring special events/groups, etc. Lastly, ensure you’re offering things that set you apart from your competition, including inventory options and customer service.”

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