Take a seat: It's a chair, it's a season
If all goes as Russ Trible plans, the next time you see what you now know as an Adirondack chair, you just might call it something else: a Summer Seat.
That's the name of Trible's new web-based company with just one product: the classic outdoor furniture common in backyards and at beaches.
"To do your own business," says the 36-year-old Trible, "it helps if you like the product. I just think they're really cool."
Adirondack chairs are "very good sellers" here in Charlottesville, says Leslie Wood, manager of Plow & Hearth at Barracks Road. The market for the chairs stretches from March through October, and Wood says Plow and Hearth's prices range between $150 and $209.
But though Adirondack chairs are available everywhere from catalogs to hardware stores– in some places for as little as $50– Trible believes that no one has fully capitalized on the opportunity provided by something known simply by a generic title.
"There's no brand for Adirondack chairs," he says.
Trible's interest in branding has only grown stronger since he started his second undergraduate degree, this one in marketing, at UVA in 2002. (He earned a psych degree from Radford in 1991).
"I was thinking, I'll get the degree and go work for Procter and Gamble," Trible explains, "but now I like it here so much, I think I'm just going to stay."
Since he launched the site, summerseat.com– which he designed himself– he says interest has been strong.
"It's been pretty popular," he says, citing "a few hundred" sold since he launched in early April. But since he stopped advertising on Google, numbers have dropped.
Trible says his costs so far have been about $4,000 – pennies compared to the expense of a traditional start-up, which includes significant overhead such as rent and in-house inventory. At around $200 each, the cedar and hardwood chairs made by Richie Industries in Ohio will help Trible recoup that expense in no time– especially if he hits his goal of selling 1,000 this year.
"It will grow," says Trible, "but I have to be extremely careful with the outlay of marketing money. It's going to grow slower than a company normally would."
Maybe a slow pace is appropriate, considering the product.
"We're selling summertime relaxation," he says.
Russ Trible's new start-up business is all about sitting down.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO