EGGtoberfest XVII - Mothership
This year I plan to handle my blog entries about my visit to EGGtoberfest 2014 differently than I did for EGGtoberfest 2013. Last year I wrote 2 VERY long entries that took me until some time in December to get out. This year I will break the event down into more manageable bite sized chunks. This means I will be able to get some blogs up in a more timely manner and while the impressions are still fresh in my head. Also folks can pick and choose which of the shorter entries interest them and read just those. This first entry will cover my visit to the BGE Company Store at the headquarters in Tucker, GA.
BACKGROUND:My trip down to Atlanta was a case of the good news and bad news. The good news was the flight left early and arrived even earlier. How often does that happen? The bad news started when I had landed. When I fired up my iPhone while getting off the plane, I was greeted with an email from Delta telling me my suitcase had missed my flight. It was good that I found out about this before I stood at the beltway waiting for a bag that was never going to arrive. I also got to leave the airport earlier than if my bags are arrived normally. All told I had a couple extra hours at the hotel because of this. I was told that I should have my baggage sometime Friday night, So in theory that wasn't going to be much of an inconvenience. But it was also an unseasonably warm 95 degrees (35 C) on Friday afternoon. For me coming from New England it felt more like 120 degrees (49 C). The thought of possibly having to wear the same sweaty shirt again at EGGtoberfest on Saturday was a bit scary. Not to mention my BGE baseball cap was in my luggage too. I already had been thinking of possibly making a trip out to the mothership, Big Green Egg headquarters, in nearby Tucker Georgia before my suitcase was lost. Needing something clean to wear if my luggage didn’t show was the perfect “justification” for the trip.
I knew Tucker, Georgia was fairly close by and it turns out it was the next town over and a quick 12 minute drive. Stone Mountain, where EGGtoberfest has been held for the last 2 years, is said to be Georgia’s most popular tourist destination. But the fact that it is the next town over from BGE HQ in Tucker, had to strongly factor into the decision to move the show from Atlanta Motor Speedway two years ago. My hotel was a stone’s throw from the highway. The trip was 7 miles on the highway and 1 mile more on secondary roads. The building was a two story building about 120’ wide x 240’ deep (37 x 74 m) oriented off the road at a 45 degree angle. The building was somewhat lower than the road and you took a sloping entrance ramp down to the parking. The store was in the Northeast corner of the building and there was a raised deck extending along and past the East wall of the building just to the left of the store entrance. There were several Eggs on the raised deck as well as a BGE balloon. I believe this deck area is used for cooking classes and Egg demos. Beyond the raised deck was the shipping and receiving area towards the center of the East wall. The parking extended along the North and East walls of the building.
RETAIL SALES CENTER:
FIRST IMPRESSIONS:The retail sales center is entered via a pair of double doors in the Northeast corner of the building. As I walked in my first impression was a virtual flood of green and white boxes everywhere. I remember thinking I had hit the motherlode at the Mothership. The amount of product displayed is almost overwhelming. But I am also thinking there is a good reason they do it this way. The Big Green Egg traditionally has not been a mainstream product. I am sure some of the people coming in to look at the Egg may feel like they are taking a bit of a risk on a niche or specialty product. You walk in the door and see Eggs everywhere surrounded by a sea of Eggcessories and suddenly you feel like this is a viable product with lots of support.
CLICK ON THUMBNAIL TO VIEW PANORAMA PAGE
PANORAMA 1 - 180 degree view Looking Northwest thru Southeast
PANORAMA 2 - 180 degree view Looking Southwest through Southeast
BIG PICTURE:The sales area was about 43’ across x 28’ deep (8.5 x 13 m). The sales counter is on the rear wall directly ahead of you as you enter the store. The floor is beige 8 x 8” (20 x 20 cm) ceramic tile. The ceiling is standard 2x4 (60 x 120 cm) lay in ceiling tiles with fluorescent lighting as well as track lights aimed at specific merchandise displays. The walls are a beige/yellow color similar to the color of the ceramics inside the BGE. Three of the four walls are covered with slat-wall allowing flexibility in displaying the merchandise. There are various types of hooks and shelves that attach to the slots in the slat-wall. These can be set up in virtually limitless combinations. I will give an overview of the store organization below. If you click on the two VR thumbnails you can see two 180 degree panoramic views of the sales area. The panoramas will open in their own window, so you can switch back and forth between reading the description and viewing the panorama.
EAST WALL:As I mentioned, you enter the building in the Northeast corner via a pair of double doors. To the left of the door is a 6 foot wide section containing all of the various size and style covers for the Egg. This brings you to the Northeast corner. The first thing you see on the East wall is an XXL Egg. To the right of the XXL, the other sizes of Eggs are spread across the floor along the East wall. Bags of charcoals were arrayed in front of and between the Eggs serving as spacers. Above the Eggs were 9 waterfall style display hooks with all of the various BGE branded long and short-sleeved shirts, as well as cooking aprons. The last 8’ (2.5 m) of the East wall was adjacent to and behind the end of the sales counter area. There were hooks holding replacement parts for the Egg such as the: ceramic fire box, ceramic fire ring, draft doors, hinge bands, bottom grate, plate setter etc.
NORTH WALL:The sales counter is about 20’ long taking up the left half of the North wall. It can be accessed from both ends. There is more product displayed on the floor in front of the counter. There doesn’t seem to be any particular logic to what is displayed there. Behind the sales counter is more product displayed on the upper half of the wall. It appears like a lot of it is additional stock of products displayed elsewhere in the store. For example there were additional stocks of Eggwear and I think this is what you actually buy vs the items on the East wall which are intended to be display samples. Just to the right of the sales counter is a pair of doors out to the warehouse beyond. To the right of the doors are two Eggs setup in tables. It isn’t just those Eggs either. The Eggs are shown with one or more Eggcessories installed in the Egg and several more are displayed on the countertops. On the wall above the Eggs are more Eggcessories. Jalapeno holders and grill baskets towards the left and towards the right Eggcessories related to baking, pizzas and calzones. There is a stack of ceramic deep-dish pizza pans and cast iron Dutch ovens to the right of the Eggtable.
WEST WALL:The West Wall is broken up by a door in the left corner and a door to an office in the middle. To the left of this door is a large window giving the office a view out to the sales floor. This means that above 3’ (1 m) or so there is very little wall space for displaying merchandise. This portion of the wall is painted to match the slat-wall used elsewhere. So there is no wall displays in this area. The merchandise that is displayed are smaller items displayed on top of several folding tables covered with a BGE Green table cloth. Below the tables are more bags of BGE Lump charcoal. On top of the tables are various grilling utensils, grill cleaners, wire grill baskets, BGE candles, BGE light strings etc. To the right of the center door is a full height wall display of bags of various species of smoking woods.
NORTH WALL:Starting from the left corner are wall displays featuring: grill grates, metal grates for the fire box, grill griddles, perforated and non-perforated grill pans. To the right of that are various grill grid brushes or cleaners. Next is another display of items related to baking and making pizza and calzones. Continuing to the right there are specialty cooking items such as: Injectors, burger presses, rib and jalapeño racks, poultry stands, bear claws for pulling meat etc. Finally to the right of these items are various types of grill thermometers. There is a projecting column that breaks up the wall display. To the left of the column is a section featuring various rubs and seasonings by both BGE and third parties. The last section of wall display to the left of the spices are various cookbooks, once again by BGE and third parties. This brings us back around to the entrance doors.
SALES FLOOR:The sales floor space is filled mainly with various sized Eggs displayed in various tables and also rolling Egg nests. In the Northwest corner are two display racks which duplicate displays of items found elsewhere on the wall displays. The various Eggs were displayed with different Eggcessories installed in them and the table top space of the various counters were used to display more products. They also had signs advertising packages with the Egg bundled with several Eggcessories. There were Big Green Egg stools around the sales floor. If someone was looking at an Egg, some stools could be set up around one of the counters for that sized Egg. This makes for a more intimate, focussed and comfortable discussion. As was typical in other areas of the store, bags of BGE lump charcoal were placed around the bases of the various tables.
SALES STAFF:My visit occurred on what had to be one of the most stressful days of the year for the sales staff. This was the day before this store was set to close on Saturday for Eggtoberfest. BGE sets up a company store in a large tent out at Eggtoberfest. I am sure there was a lot of behind the scenes stress as people needed to be out at the site helping to set up the Eggtoberfest Company Store tent. When I arrived Ed Fischer, the founder of the BGE Company, had just departed with about 20 members of his family who were here for Eggtoberfest. Also it was quite possible some of the people working the store this day were pinch hitting for store staff who were off dealing with Eggtoberfest related issues. Despite all of this, the staff couldn’t have been more friendly or helpful.
USER EXPERIENCE:For an existing Egghead like myself, as soon as you walk in the front door you know you are in the right place. Here are all the Eggcessories you have seen pictures of in the catalogs or online all available for you to look at and touch in the flesh. I had already thought about stopping at the store even though I have all of the Eggcessories I need right now. When my suitcase got lost, I wanted/needed to grab a shirt and hat to wear the next day at EGGtoberfest. Even though I was just there to kick the tires, it was still a lot of fun. It was amazing seeing all of the Eggcessories in one place. It was nice being able to see and handle the products in person. You get to see their actual size and see how they feel in your hand. These are things you can only do in person. I didn’t realize how many Eggcessories there were. Online or in a catalogue there are only so many products you can fit on a page. Granted some of these products were displayed in multiple areas within the store, but you never got the feeling it was done as filler or padding.
For someone considering the purchase of the Egg, coming to this store should erase any thoughts that the Egg is a niche product with little support. Some other kamado type grills do not have a lot of add ons made for them. In fact many of them get by because they are the same size as say the Large BGE and they are able to use Large BGE Eggcessories. But walking into this store, you see there is a full product line of grills in a wide range of sizes. You also see there are all sorts of accessories/Eggcessories to extend and expand the usage of this product. The amount of product on display is almost overwhelming. But there is a subliminal message being delivered here: The Egg is a viable product with a wide range of capabilities and there are Eggcessories available to do anything you want.
FINAL THOUGHT:Whether you are an existing Egghead or someone thinking about buying your first BGE, if you find yourself near Tucker, Georgia (next to Stone Mountain, GA) set aside some time for a visit to the BGE Company Store. Don’t blame me if you end up spending more than you want to.
SOME RELATED LINKS: Here are some links to other blog entries in this series and several blog entries from my first visit to EGGtoberfest in 2013.
EGGtoberfest XVI - 2013 EGGTOBERFEST XVI - PART 1 2013 Blog Entry about my first visit to the big Kahuna of Eggfests: EGGtoberfest.
EGGTOBERFEST XVI - PART 2 2013 Blog Entry about my first visit to the big Kahuna of Eggfests: EGGtoberfest.
EGGtoberfest XVII - 2014 EGGTOBERFEST XVII - MEET & GREET 2014 Blog Entry about the second Meet & Greet held at the Atlanta Evergreen Marriot Resort. Did they fix some of theses from last year? EGGTOBERFEST XVII - MINI-MAX DEBUT 2014 Blog Entry about the Mini-Max which had it’s coming out party at EGGtoberfest XVII
EGGTOBERFEST XVII - BGE COMPANY STORE TENT 2014 Blog Entry about the Mini-Max which had it’s coming out party at EGGtoberfest XVII
EGGTOBERFEST XVII - COOK’S AREA 2014 Blog Entry with some Big Picture information about the setup and what went on in the Cook’s Area at EGGtoberfest XVII
EGGTOBERFEST XVII - TIPS & LESSONS LEARNED 2014 Blog Entry with some Big Picture information about the setup and what went on in the Cook’s Area at EGGtoberfest XVII
EGGTOBERFEST XVII - SWAG BAG 2014 Blog Entry with some pictures and descriptions of what was in the EGGtoberfest XVII Swag Bag
EGGTOBERFEST XVII - OFFICIAL VIDEO Web page containing the 2014 EGGtoberfest XVII video produced by the BGE Company
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