“People wanting to be self-sufficient and eating locally grown food is synonymous with people who are affluent,” says Rob Ludlow in a Wall Street Journal article by Anne Marie Chaker (1/30/13). Rob owns BackYardChickens.com, an online community of “170,000 chicken enthusiasts” who keep their own coops. This confluence of money and the “modern homesteader” is paying off for retailers like Williams-Sonoma, whose new Agrarian line of homesteader products “features a $1,300 chicken coop and a $500 beehive,” among other items.
So successful is the Agrarian line that Williams-Sonoma is expanding it and giving it its own catalog. Terrain, a home-and-garden concept via Urban Outfitters, is on a similar path, offering a “$228 metal-roof birdhouse” and “$269 tailored gardening jacket,” for example. Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne says Terrain takes direct aim at “women ranging from their mid-40s to mid-60s,” and “the spending potential of well-heeled women whose children are grown.”
As he explains: “Their demand and desire for apparel wanes” and Terrain steps in with “a lifestyle concept.” Retail sales for the category, “which includes annual spending on organic-labeled food and environmentally-friendly household products” is estimated at $200 billion a year, according to Charlie Hall of Texas A&M University. It’s a lifestyle that resonates with 55-year-old Eliza Zimmerman: “It’s what I did with my grandmother — the chickens, the gardening, the canning, the bees … It is my Zen — a memory of what made me feel safe and good and warm.”