Builders Say Home Bars Are A Hot Topic During The Coronavirus Lockdown On Cheddar

The married couple Marc and Rene Simon, owners of foo-BARS Designs, still can’t believe how much alcohol people drink. As a guy who enjoys the occasional glass of wine, she was surprised by the massive demand for bespoke home bars during the pandemic. In addition, the Florida-based furniture manufacturer was able to increase sales by 100 percent compared to the previous year.

“We had about five days when they first shut everything, when we had an ‘oh s ***’ moment where no more orders came in and we thought, ‘holy cow, we sucked,'” said Marc Simon to Cheddar. “Then they closed all the bars and they all got their stimulus checks.”

While much of the economy slackened in April, foo-BARS posted sales of $ 245,000, nearly three times the $ 75,000 they made the previous year. According to market data from Nielsen, sales of alcohol off-premises are up 21.6 percent year over year.

According to the Simons, these two data points have a lot to do with each other.

They saw the makeup of their sales shift from 80 percent of their front desk sales – their bread and butter before the pandemic – to nearly half of their house bar sales.

Courtesy Marc Simon / foo-BARS Designs

The units vary in size and shape, but most are rustic or industrial in style and use untreated wood or corrugated iron. Over the summer, the company saw an increase in larger outdoor units designed for backyard patios. Much of those sales came from states with the most stringent lockdowns like New York and California, Simon added.

Ralph McHale, owner of FinalCuts Woodworking in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, saw a similar surge, but it came a little later and seemed less related to the early, impulsive buying frenzy.

“I’ve only been working on bars for the past four months,” he said. “There was a lot more interest in them too. Lots of people contacted me with questions. Most of the messages on my Etsy shop were about bars.”

McHale, who builds everything himself, does all kinds of woodwork, from tables and chairs to cornhole boards, but house bars have always been his passion. Now they make up 80 percent of his business, a shift he’s making to people settling into a new, more homely lifestyle

“People are stuck at home and I think a lot of people plan to stay that way,” he said.

Working at the rate of one bar a week, McHale said it had been difficult to meet demand. It is currently booked until after January and does not take any additional vacation orders.

At foo-BARS the biggest increase in sales was recorded in the summer. Now things are calming down. However, business is still 5 percent higher than the usual vacation.

The biggest X-factor for the business, according to Simon, is whether another round of stimulus checks is imminent.

“If another stimulus check comes through, we’re going to see an incredible surge again because people love to drink,” he said. “I can’t believe how much you like to drink.”

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