Except for a brief time some three years ago when the demand for
shutters seemed to falter (see “Too Much to Expect?” D&WC,
April 2003, page 46), interior shutters in all their variations
have remained one the hottest product segments this industry has
seen in recent times. It seems this window treatment, which has
been around since ancient days, will continue to be sought after
by consumers for its beauty and functionality.
The responses to D&WC’s latest Reader Survey on shutters (November 2003, page 54) show some interesting trends. For example, despite efforts to market arch-top shutter treatments, 92 percent of our respondents sold half to all their shutters for standard-shaped windows. Customers still see shutters as a basically rectangular window treatment and are not thinking of them when it comes to other windows or other applications.
On the plus side, the average retail price of a three- by five-foot wood shutter panel has stabilized between $300 and $600, even while the average retail price for the same size vinyl panel has fallen. Together, these pricing trends are making shutters available to more markets without necessarily falling into low-price wars.
Roger Gober, this month’s cover story (see page 32) knows a thing or two about shutters. He has quietly built All About Blinds & Shutters into a dominant market leader in Jacksonville, FL, with 30 to 40 percent of his business in custom shutters. He is fortunate to count many high-end clients among his customer list, especially when it comes to shutters (including several PGA pros living in his area). He offers one warning, however, to dealers considering taking on shutters: Be prepared to take a hit. His point is that sometimes, for reasons beyond our control, a finished product is just unacceptable to the end-user and sometimes mistakes happen. (“We’re all human,” Gober says). With shutters, that can be costly.
But let’s not have that be a deterrent for dealers with the desire to offer truly custom, beautiful and long-lasting window treatments to their customers—and one with traditionally high margins. Determined and discerning dealers should follow on to our Shutter Product Showcase on page 48 to examine the latest shutter products from manufacturers and suppliers from around the country. There, the right shutter equipment and programs can be found for any market segment seeking this highly prized treatment.