(Photo by Cascade Business News)
It’s not often that we see businesses offer a seemingly unrelated assortment of services and products, but for the owners of Patio World and the Race Place, providing high-quality patio furniture and equally high-quality ski racing gear ended up being a perfect combination for a rapidly growing mountain town like Bend.
It all started in 1988, when the Holmer family founded The Lift Ski & Patio on Century Drive. According to Eric Holmer, son of the business owner, Scott Holmer, “In the late ‘90’s, we shifted our ski shop focus to being a race-specific ski shop and in 1995, we officially changed to Patio World and Race Place.”
The Holmer family has a history of ski racing that inspired them to pursue this business venture. Members of the family have competed in and won medals at the Junior Olympics, state high school championships, Nor-Ams and many other events. Members of the family have even Coached at many levels, including the Olympics and U.S. Ski Team.
The new location for both businesses lends itself well to this business model. According to Eric, about 90 percent of their ski sales come from online orders, so there isn’t too much need to have a massive physical location dedicated to the ski shop. On the other hand, patio furniture requires a massive physical location to showcase the many different styles, options and layouts that a customer might purchase.
In their new building, which was custom-built for the family’s businesses on Columbia Street overlooking Riverbend Park, there is a small section dedicated to ski racing gear with displays that grow and shrink depending on the season. Year-round, the space provides enough room to show off all of the high-quality patio furniture that is available.
As the years passed, Patio World and the Race Place became welcome members of the Bend community. However, the journey to modern-day success didn’t happen without a few bumps in the road.
According to Eric, “There have been a couple struggles that everyone in the country has felt over the past 15 years. The economic crash in 2008 was difficult, as was COVID in 2020. We were one of many businesses that were forced to close to the public during the initial COVID surge, which was a big hit to the business. Fortunately when we reopened in May of 2020 there were a lot of people that realized they should upgrade their patio furniture after spending a month or more at home, more often than usual.”
Now, while the patio industry has made progress and begun to recover from the effects of COVID, Eric said that there are still issues the industry as a whole are facing.
“Since May of 2020 our biggest challenge has been supply chain delays because of COVID,” Eric said. “Prior to COVID, many of our suppliers that produce their furniture in the U.S. were able to deliver products in four-eight weeks. In 2021 and 2022, the lead times for production went to a minimum three months and up to 14 months, in some cases. This made it very difficult to have furniture in stock and limited the options for customers that didn’t want to wait a year to enjoy relaxing on their deck.”
Fortunately, as the world recovers from COVID, so do the supply chain issues, which have gotten substantially better over the years, even if they still aren’t fully recovered.
Now, the major focus for Patio World is to offer a large collection of high-quality patio furniture with the help of an experienced, year-round patio staff with exceptional product knowledge and industry experience. Eric and the rest of the team can play a few different roles, depending on their customer. If someone comes in with a clear idea in mind, a style that they want and the dimensions of their patio space, the team will lead them in the right direction to find their ideal patio furniture. If someone walks in with much less info, the team can still guide them into finding the perfect patio pieces that will complement their existing space while fitting into their dimensions, and their budget.
Eric is candid when discussing the price point of the patio furniture offered at Patio World, but there is a good reason why the price might seem high. While many other patio furniture suppliers prioritize looks over quality, Patio World does not cut any corners, “We specialize in furniture that is a ten-plus-year investment instead of brands that look great in the showroom but won’t retain their quality for more than a few months outside.”
Of these brands, there is a priority to utilize American companies, whenever possible, and the plan is to keep things that way.
When asked about the future, Eric said that the main focus of the business is here and now, “The past year has been a whirlwind of constructing and moving into our new building. We are very excited to be at our new location and be able to offer the same high-quality products at a more convenient location.”
For now, it looks like Patio World’s plan is to settle into their new space and continue their family legacy of providing some of the highest quality patio furniture around.
Patio World • 665 SW Columbia St., Bend