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Outdoor furniture demand grows but so do shipping costs

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Since the pandemic Grand Bazaar owner Bulent Ganal has seen the demand for outdoor furniture and soft furnishings explode, but so has the price of shipping (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Grand Bazaar owner Bulent Ganal with some of his outdoor furniture (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

This time last year, entrepreneur Bulent Ganal was selling Turkish outdoor furniture sets for $7,000 each.

The same set is now $9,000.

Mr Ganal who has run Grand Bazaar in the Clocktower Mall in Dockyard for 18 years, said the price increase was purely because of shipping.

“The merchant has not put the price up,” he said. “The price went up because of the shipping. It used to cost me $5,000 to bring a container in. Now it costs $15,000.”

There have been shipping delays and snafus worldwide since the pandemic began owing to labour and equipment shortages.

Despite the price increase, Grand Bazaar’s teak furniture sets and soft furnishings are doing well.

Mr Ganal sold several sets before the latest shipment even reached the dock.

“We take orders,” he said.

He and his wife, Teresa, started Grand Bazaar in 2004 selling Turkish goods such as backpacks, clothing, lanterns and hand-painted bowls.

Then, Mr Ganal took a trip back to his native Turkey a few years ago and brought back a few pieces of furniture for his wife. When friends and family saw it they wanted something similar. So he started bringing furniture sets in for them, too. Demand grew.

When a space opened across from Grand Bazaar the Ganals thought they would sell some furnishings there. Over time their square footage has expanded.

“We thought about moving to town or at least do the home store in town,” Mr Ganal said. “But I can only be in one place, and the Clocktower Mall is very busy.”

For much of the pandemic it was just Grand Bazaar and Nannini’s Ice Cream Parlour open in the Clocktower Mall.

“The other stores rely heavily on tourists,” he said. “With no tourists coming in, there was no point in opening.”

Covid-19 gave Mr Ganal and his wife time to brush up on their social-media skills. Through Instagram, many locals contacted them wanting to improve their homes or outdoor spaces while stuck at home.

“Since the pandemic began we have sold four or five containers worth of furniture,” he said. “They are nice bread and butter for us.”

But he is not sure if he will continue with the furniture now that the tourists are flowing into Dockyard again.

“We will see what happens at the end of the summer,” he said.

The cost of shipping is giving him some reservations.

“It is not a small item,” he said. “And you can only fit 12 furniture sets into a container.”

He said the tourism scene has gone from “zero to 100” since the cruise ships started coming in again.

“We were expecting to do maybe half of the business we did before 2020,” he said. “But the spending is almost equivalent to a full ship. April was fantastic.”

He has seen some visitors who have been to Bermuda three times already on the cruise ships.

“A couple of them were already booked,” he said. “In 2020 and 2021 they could not use their cruise ship reservations, so they are using them in 2022 and coming back again. The ones that are leaving often say see you in August, or see you in September. They are booking again.”

For more information see them on Facebook or Instagram, call 234-4646 or e-mail grandbazaar@fkbnet.com

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Published June 28, 2022 at 7:39 am (Updated June 29, 2022 at 7:42 am)

Outdoor furniture demand grows but so do shipping costs

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