How did Tierra Wood Stoves come to be established?
I was working for Colorado Log Homes in Taos. In 1979, we brought in a few wood stoves to display here at our show home. Within the first month, we sold 13 or 14 wood stoves. When Colorado Log Homes went out of business, my wife, Bonnie, suggested that I might want to open a store to sell wood stoves. I contacted several manufacturers. They said they would like to have an outlet in Taos. In April 1980, we opened our store and the rest is history.
What were your goals when you envisioned the new showroom?
Our first store was in the building where Cottam’s Ski and Outdoor Shop is now, south of downtown. That space didn’t have a warehouse to store the stoves, so when someone bought a stove, I would have to run across the street to my storage unit to get it. In 1985, we started carrying hot tubs, and I knew we needed more space and storage. I found a lot for sale and we built this showroom. We don’t carry hot tubs any more, but now we also have gas stoves and window coverings.
When did you add window coverings?
When we would visit someone’s home to see what type of wood stove might be appropriate, we would notice that some people didn’t have window coverings at all and that most of the heat was escaping through the windows. Since 1985, we have offered both stoves and window coverings. I measure for the blinds myself, and we offer free blind repair to the original purchaser.
What trends have you seen in the business of wood stoves and window coverings over time?
At first there was only one kind of stove made by Ashley available in town. We brought in eight different manufacturers from Norway, France and the Northwest that were the best at that time; they were highly efficient. In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency introduced new standards to make wood stoves cleaner burning. Some of the manufacturers couldn’t meet the standards. Nine out of ten of them went out of business. Now the federal Department of Energy has introduced even more stringent standards. Wood stoves are already very efficient and release few pollutants into the air. If similar standards were applied to fireplaces and cookstoves, the air would be a lot cleaner.
The cellular honey-combed blinds we sell have high R-value and keep 80 percent of the heat in during the winter and 80 percent of the heat out during the summer. With all window coverings, a primary concern is preventing children from becoming entangled in the cords. Some of the blinds are now cordless or have only one cord.
What's new for the season?
A new trend this year is the linear fireplace. It is a contemporary look that you may have seen in hotel lobbies, and some people have them in their homes, too. We can special order these fireplaces, along with many others.
What is on the mind of your customers right now?
People are thinking about keeping warm with wood stoves. They help reduce the heating costs and after about two years, people find they will likely pay for themselves. For people with natural gas, some are switching to gas fireplaces because natural gas is inexpensive now.
How do you see wood stoves being part of Taos style?
I think wood stoves are part of the Taos lifestyle. Many people like kiva fireplaces and although they can be beautiful, they are only 10% efficient and create a lot of smoke, adding to our wintertime air pollution. When building a house, you can construct a kiva fireplace around a clean burning insert and make a kiva fireplace that is very environmentally friendly. If an existing kiva fireplace is big enough, we can retrofit with a more efficient wood stove or gas insert.
One of the models we use is a Jotul stove it is a small box stove that is very narrow. If you take off the cast iron legs, you can slide it into a kiva fireplace, hook it up, line the chimney with stainless steel and convert your kiva into an efficient heater. I replaced my kiva fireplace with a free standing wood stove and think it is very beautiful. The wood stove acts as an all-night furnace.
What do you love most about what you do?
Some people at my age are thinking about retiring. I’m still having fun. To me, this is like an art gallery with sculpture. It is a path of the heart, providing warmth with green energy and helping people keep the heat in their homes. I love to come to work every day.
What more would you like people to know about Tierra Wood Stoves?
We have about 60 different units in the showroom and can order anything available in the hearth industry. Come visit us and we can show you brochures and videos for many models.
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