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In the UK, the Guardian reports that Container Store co-founder Garrett Boone's latest retail concept, TreeHouse - described as "a home improvement retailer that would focus on sustainable, environmentally friendly, energy-efficient products" - seems finally to be getting traction.

The concept was first conceived in 2009, the first and only store was opened in Austin, Texas, in 2011. Second-year sales were up 25 percent over the first year of operation, and sales were up third year by 75 percent.

The Guardian writes that "like The Container Store, TreeHouse is attempting to transform the market by giving the general public access to a wider array of products." And, "TreeHouse’s biggest challenge is similar to the one that The Container Store faced in 1978. Like the storage retailer, it’s building a new market that consumers may not completely understand. Currently, customers interested in reducing their electric bill or cutting their carbon footprint are faced with a baffling array of products and options, some of which are outstanding – and many of which are not.

"To make matters worse, if customers want accurate, up-to-date information on sustainable products, they usually have to do a lot of research on their own. That combination of limited access and a dearth of information creates hurdles that turn many consumers off."

One of the solutions that TreeHouse has developed is curation.

“We’re making pre-decisions,” Boone tells the paper. “We’re giving customers three choices instead of 10.” TreeHouse categories items as “better, best or exceptional” and tries to offer "a balance between price and performance that customers can easily decipher. Another part of TreeHouse’s careful curation lies in its interior design. The store carries most of the items that one would expect of a home improvement store, but organizes them very differently. Rather than arranging its products by function – plumbing, painting, carpentry and so forth – TreeHouse divides most of them into either 'design' or 'performance'."

Within two decades, Boone says, the goal is to have a TreeHouse store in every major US market.
KC's View:
I'm one of the least DIY-type guys around, but I have to say that I'm fascinated by this concept, especially the notion of grouping products in a different way and stressing the importance of consumer education. It sounds like it could be the kind of concept that, if it gets real traction, could have impact even beyond the DIY business.

You should check out the company's site, here. It is kind of cool.

One other thought. While this is a DIY concept, I wonder if they would be well-served to have handyman-type people on call who could serve as advisors/consultants to people like me, who have trouble doing anything beyond screwing in lightbulbs. It might cost a little more, but the long-term savings could make it worthwhile.