In a few weeks time we will be celebrating our Twentieth year retailing fireplaces "what a mile stone".
I will just repeat it 20 years amazing. Just shows you that there is fireplace shops selling mainly on the web like ourselves that have been here a long time and intend to be here a lot longer providing a superb product and service to our customers.
A bit of our fireplace history
It just seems like yesterday that I first bought a cast iron fireplace from a fireplace supplier, to resell on.
In the beginning I was buying and selling old Antique fireplaces and putting them with my own hand made pine fireplace mantels which I was making in the shed at the bottom of the garden. Because of our success in the first few years retailing and restoring our antique fireplaces we needed more quantities of original fireplaces. the problem in Lincolnshire is that it is rural. (not enough terraced houses) eventually the old fireplaces started to dry up and became harder to find in any great quantities, to sustain a proper income. So I made the decision to stop selling the antique fireplaces and concentrate on new reproduction fireplaces. so I went looking for a supplier of reproduction Victorian fireplaces.
During this time I was selling these fireplaces from an antique stall just out side Lincoln, when I started getting the reproduction fireplaces I wanted to sell them in a different way to the other fireplace shops, so I racked my brain and came up with a brilliant idea, I would sell these fireplaces in magazines by mail order (I open up a can of worms with that one). Right I decided on a price for these fireplaces sets which happened to be £599.00 for a complete gas fire set. I then had to think on how to advertise them, and which magazine do I choose , I thought only one good magazine is needed and the orders will come rolling in. How wrong could I have been. I choose the BBC homes and Antique magazine as my first effort. If my memory serves me right, it was a December addition that my first advert went in. By the way I decided to use the classified section at the back of the magazine to advertise our lovely fireplaces in, a six by one advert, ( it does seems so small now) with a little line drawing of our Victorian fireplace on it, and the words phone for our brochure "nationwide delivery", What brochure I completely forgot about a brochure. the following week I quickly arranged for a photo session with a local photographer to photograph three fireplaces, two tiled cast iron inserts and an arch one with three different pine mantles around them. My brochure, well a single colour sheet with three fireplaces on. Great!
In the Beginning of November the December addition of BBC Homes and Antiques came out. Because I advertised in the said magazine a copy of it came winging its way in the post to my front door brilliant, I wouldn't have to pay for a copy. On the due day the post man duly popped that lovely antique magazine through my letter box I ripped of the see through plastic cover and straight to the classified, I went. My little black and white line drawing was there shouting at me, Nationwide delivery phone for a brochure. Oh it did look good. Now I have to wait for the phone to ring. If I have the magazine there must be a few thousand more that has it too. My mind was working over time I will be inundated with calls what am I going to do how will I deliver all these sold fireplaces. I pinched my self and took a reality check, I will Wait for the phone to ring, and did I Wait. Six weeks later I got my first call for a brochure. I quickly sent out my single sheet brochure with the extra sheets of information on our lovely three fireplaces, again its a waiting game for the enquires to come in. Over the next few weeks I decided to advertise in several more magazines, ones like House beautiful and Ideal home, now these two magazines because of the bigger circulation figures, brought in quite a good response, and soon I got my first sale. Off to Surrey with the first fireplace sale. All I had to deliver this fireplace was my old Volvo estate car with a great big roof rack on top, its amazing how many fireplaces you can get in and on top of an old Volvo. As the months went by I advertised in more and more magazines twelve in total, and the enquires and orders came rolling in after a year or two I decided to buy our first van what a difference we started to look more professional. That was the turning point.
In 1998 (eleven years ago) we got ourselves a web site to sell our fireplaces from, one of the first in the fireplace industry, and at that time the first fireplace company solely selling from our web pages we were true pioneers then. The domain name we used then was www.fireplaceshop.co.uk and started promoting it, that was in the days before Google and broadband (how different it is now). Yahoo was the main search engine then it wasn't as hard to get to the top of the search engines then, as it is now. We spend a small fortune promoting our name now. As the web site started to become popular the sales increased and I started employing people and one van went to two vans. We started manufacturing the pine and oak mantels in larger quantities selling them to the fireplace trade and public. We now have a thriving Fireplace mantel factory trading under the name Knapp woodworking and as you can see a fireplace website that is renowned in the fireplace trade as one of the best and what a lot of our competitors try to emulate. we have just recently added a large showroom to our warehouse so our customers can choose the right fireplace and see it in the flesh so to speak.
Now what about the future, well because our competitors read this blog quite avidly (as I do with theirs) I won't go into all our plans but what I will say is that we are striving to make our service one of the best not only on the web but also from any shop on the high street. Our products ranges are growing in quantity and style on our website on a daily basis, not only fireplaces but also fireplace accessories and one of the biggest range of tiles available just watch all our fireplace categories grow with new products day by day.