Hayward’s 1890 builds off rich family history in providing top-notch outdoor furniture
Hugh Hayward can remember a time when he couldn’t walk down State Street without being recognized by someone in town.
The Hayward family has a rich history in Santa Barbara, and Hugh is the fifth generation family member to run the company.
The family has been doing business locally since 1890, or at least that’s what Hugh’s ancestors have decided on.
“I think (my family) was here before 1890, but they just picked that date because it sounded good,” Hugh, 55, told the News-Press recently.
Whether the start date is accurate or not is beside the point; what the family has accomplished over the past 129 years (or maybe more) is nothing short of remarkable.
These days, Hugh is the president of Hayward’s 1890, 7 Parker Way, specializing in outdoor patio furniture. Hugh’s great-great grandfather, Charles, operated a general merchandise store in town. Charles eventually passed the company on to his son, Alfred, followed by Earl and Roland, and then Fred, Hugh’s father.
As time went on, the Hayward’s shifted to contract work such as floor covering in the years after World War II. The store then moved to outdoor and interior furniture, operating out of three locations in Santa Barbara and Montecito.
“I give a lot of credit to the fact that it’s in Santa Barbara as to what has helped it remain intact,” Hugh said. “It’s a place people want to be, so that helps.”
The business shifted exclusively to outdoor furniture during the Great Recession from December 2007 to June 2009.
“It’s plenty to keep me busy,” Hugh said. “It’s a good gig.”
Those who have ventured into the 12,000-square-foot showroom have been able to observe some of the industry’s finest manufacturers. Whether it’s Brown Jordan, Kingsley-Bate, Summer Classics or Treasure Garden ? there is certainly no shortage of furniture to check out.
“I really focus on making sure that what I buy to sell to my customers is of a certain quality, and a certain known quality,” Hugh said.
He takes pride in customer satisfaction, and with a strong customer base in Santa Barbara, Montecito and Hope Ranch, Hugh works to find what works best no matter the circumstance.
“I try and buy stuff that I know when you buy it, you’re going to go home and you’re going to be happy,” he said.
While some retailers focus on cheaper products to try and move items quickly, that can be a “slippery slope,” Hugh said.
“You’re always nullifying something for less. It’s just the rule of the game.”
In the U.S., those who go out and buy something to sell is called the “buyer.” In Europe, a person who performs the same task is viewed as an ‘editor.’ Hugh said he tries to fulfill the latter.
“Their job is to go into the marketplace and edit out the things that don’t line up with their vision of what the business is,” he explained. “And I thought that was a good differentiator because that’s really what I try to do ? just edit out the things that don’t, to me, make sense.”
With a large variety of patio furniture, umbrellas, fire pits, chairs, rugs and pillows in his showroom, Hayward’s 1890 also offers plates, candles, table decor and accessories such as coasters, paper weights and even jewelry.
“You have to follow what your customer is looking for,” Hugh said.
While the showroom may not be located on the typical retail corridor along State Street, Hugh enjoys the current location due to having ample parking in a quiet, intimate spot.
Those who do business with Hugh can’t help but notice his keen eye for detail.
“I try to switch my brain over to look at things through (the customers) eyes,” Hugh said.
With four children under 30, Hugh said he has encouraged them to find their own passions and chase their dreams.
“I explored other things, but it worked out,” he said. “Could it have gone a different way? Of course, there are always forks in the road.”
For the foreseeable future, Hugh will continue to prioritize whatever it is the customer wants. Whether it’s those who want seating for 12, or desire furniture that can withstand the existence of house pets, or even to create a Fiji fantasy ? Hayward’s 1890 is up for the challenge.
“The price is soon forgotten, beauty lasts forever,” said Hugh. “To me that is really important, because when you’re a visual person it’s important to you.”