Almost Heaven Saunas has been on the upswing. Annual sales have increased 25 to 30 percent each year over the past seven years — and actually doubled between 2014 and 2015. Consumer interest has picked up as well; according to research by Almost Heaven, Google searches for the word "sauna" have climbed by 20 percent annually for the past several years.
In spring, Almost Heaven capitalized on surging sales and rising public curiosity by opening a large showroom in Holland, Mich., that displays an extensive selection of saunas as well as hot tubs from Passion Spas, Almost Heaven's sister company. It is something of a novel approach to sauna and spa sales in the U.S.
"We wanted a showroom where consumers who want to can try out the products, whether it be swimming in a swim spa or sitting in a sauna, to be able to experience the effects and the benefits of the product," says Rick Mouw, president of Almost Heaven Saunas.
With 10,000 feet of stock and 7,000 feet of display, the showroom is roomy enough to house just about every sauna and spa model the company offers. While customers can make purchases at the showroom, Mouw emphasizes that the showroom's main purpose is to display a comprehensive collection of product, including unique features and configurations that a dealer may not have room to showcase in his or her store. As a result, dealers who don't carry a particular item can refer customers to the showroom before making a purchase, something Mouw says dealers are already doing:
"This showroom enables dealers within a couple hundred miles or so to send their customers here to view the products that the dealer might not have in stock," he says. "And in fact, in the week or two the showroom's been open, we've already had three different dealers do exactly that. They sent customers here, they saw the product, they had an opportunity to sit in it and so forth, and then went back to the dealer and placed their order."
The new showroom also serves as a place for dealers to visit, be it for educational purposes or to take a closer look at the product line before placing an order for their store.
"We've held dealer events here in Michigan, but we didn't have a real good space for it. We'd rent a local convention space or a hotel and have a little conference," he says. "But now we have enough room to bring dealers to our showroom and do dealer training and education, all right here in our own space, while looking at all the different models."
While the showroom is still in its infancy, Mouw has his eyes set on additional showrooms in other parts of the country.
"Within a year we hope to have a showroom in West Virginia, and within a couple years, we hope to have one on the West Coast as well," he says.