Fire pits selling like hotcakes at Kyabram business due to coronavirus restrictions

By Ivy Jensen

BUSINESSES across the district have taken a huge hit in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, while others are booming.

One of those is Kyabram's Bale Up Hayfeeders.

And not only because hay feeding season has started.

Although the business broke its record for most hay feeders sold last week, fire pits are also selling like hotcakes.

Owner-manager Rohan Garth said he had sold more than 20 in the past fortnight.

“Everyone is camping in the back yard, especially over Easter, so they want a fire pit,” he said.

“We probably do half of that usually.”

As for the feeders, the business had sold 50 in one day.

“I think we did under 5000km in about five days, from Wakool, Warnambool, Hamilton, Maffra and Corryong. ” Mr Garth said.

“We usually average about 25 a week. Our record was 35 and we’ve obviously beaten that.”

Mr Garth said a good growing season, particularly in places such as Warnambool and south Gippsland, had contributed to that.

“The western district has had a lot of good rain and things have gone mad there,” he said.

“We’re getting into hay feeding season, so people are buying because of that as well as replacing feeders that were burnt out in Corryong.”

Mr Garth started operating Bale Up Feeders in Tongala about seven years ago, before moving into the old Holden dealership in Kyabram almost two years ago.

“Since moving, our business has almost doubled,” he said.

“Everything is a lot more productive here and we have tonnes more space. We also have a showroom and painted up the place like the Holden dealership.”

Mr Garth said hay feeders accounted for about 80 per cent of his business, selling about 4000 over seven years.

“We’re big on hay saving and have 5 per cent waste,” he said.

“Our feeders keep hay off the ground, supporting it in a cradle, so the hay stays high and dry off the ground.

“They are very robust and only made with Australian steel. Everything I can source in Australia I do.”

With strict COVID-19 restrictions recently coming into effect, forcing many businesses to close, Mr Garth said he was one of the lucky ones.

“We can keep the doors shut and the boys can keep working,” he said.

“Most of our stuff is ordered and delivered so there is so need for close contact.”

Mr Garth employs another eight workers, including his son Scott and four apprentices.

“I’m thankful I haven’t had to stand anyone down, like many businesses have had to do,” he said.

“We’ve made a pretty good name for ourselves and have enough jobs to keep us going.”

As for the fire pits, he said customers just had to send in a design they liked and the team did the rest.

“We have a CNC plasma cutter and work from the picture or photo sent to us,” he said.

They have made hundreds of different firepits over the years, but only one to commemorate the coronavirus.

It is complete with messages about social distancing, panic buying, supporting local business and beer companies and banning cruise ships.

“It was more as a joke, but you never know. They might prove popular,” he laughed.