hen Kerrisdale Lumber split its operations into two different store locations in 2020, the company made one of the largest decisions in its 100-year history. Founded in 1921 as a simple neighbourhood hardware store, Kerrisdale Lumber has thrived with time, evolving into an expansive operation specializing in contractor supply, home decor, and outdoor living.
The store’s bifurcation brought a definite level-up to that evolution. One branch is dedicated to contractor relations—a strictly-business enterprise where home builders and contractors can talk shop, supply, and lumber. The other branch, its home and outdoor living division, is where the party starts.
Kerrisdale Lumber Home sits only two blocks away from the store’s original location and holds a fully operational kitchen alongside a bursting inventory of barbecues, pizza ovens, fire pits, and everything else needed to create an impressive outdoor kitchen. And for those who want it, the company offers a fully customized installation process, from ideation to implementation.
“We've found the outdoor customized kitchen to be really popular, especially during COVID,” explains Tessa Ross, Kerrisdale Lumber’s marketing strategy and business development manager. As social gatherings migrated to the outdoors, the demand for al fresco spaces where people could cook and socialize increased dramatically. And thanks to Kerrisdale Lumber’s legacy in the building industry, the company has amassed a wealth of local designers and brands to partner with—making its offering even more enticing.
“We have relationships with other business owners in Vancouver; we work with them to design an outdoor kitchen, and we have an in-house team of outdoor living specialists who work with the designers very closely to be able to achieve that,” Ross explains. “There are so many different designs that we could do in terms of the aesthetic, in terms of functionality. So our goal is to make sure that the process is pretty streamlined.”
That process starts in Kerrisdale Lumber Home’s exquisite showroom, where customers can take a look at the store’s own outdoor kitchen and work with the in-house team to decide what they want for themselves—whether it’s an ultra-luxe built-in gas grill or a more low-key portable one. Materials include highly durable marine-grade stainless steel that can withstand harsh weather, allowing for year-round use. “We also have accessories that can prevent weather damage,” says Ross, “and we can create custom structures around the outdoor kitchen, as well as outdoor heating.”
Regardless of their desired level of customization, Ross finds one distinct commonality between outdoor kitchen customers: an earnest love for cooking.
“What we've noticed is a lot of people who are getting outdoor kitchens are really passionate about cooking and really passionate about food,” she says, mentioning that quite a few clients come from the food industry. Still, these kitchens are also very approachable for those without a culinary background. “If you know how to use a barbecue, you can use all of this,” says Ross. “It really is just a bit of a more customized approach, and more upscale.”
Kerrisdale Lumber’s intimate human approach is also part of what makes the process feel so boutique. “We have a great in-house team who are very passionate and love to cook for customers, and love to show them how it all works,” Ross shares. “One of our general managers is super passionate about cooking, and a lot of the time clients will invite him over when the outdoor kitchen is finished so he can give them a bit of a tutorial and they can have a nice meal together. That way everything is shown in-person.”
It’s a stark difference from big-box stores, but that’s entirely the point. A family-run business for the past four generations, Kerrisdale Lumber began toying with the idea of outdoor cookery in the 1970s, when then-president Mark Perry bought about 20 Weber barbecues on whim. That decision has expanded into a fully stocked e-commerce operation alongside the physical stores, now guided by current president (and Mark’s grandson) Lyle Perry.
“We've had tremendous success with e-commerce and that will still be a focus moving forward,” says Ross. “But we’re making sure we’re still sticking to our style and staying very true to our roots.”
Those roots are paramount. “It is important to us to remember what has served for multiple generations,” says Lyle. “Kerrisdale Lumber is a family of people who care for each other and look out for each other. That culture of deep caring translates to our approach to customer service. If we look after them, they will look after us.”