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Updated: Dec 1, 2023

By Karen Hailson Bouvier | Photo by Charles Tagliarino

According to the International Concrete Paver Institute, more than 750 million square feet of concrete pavers were sold in the U.S. and Canada in 2018, and nearly 78% of that went toward residential projects. In short, pavers add versatility and functionality to outdoor spaces. They can be used on patios—more popular than ever—that provide added entertainment, extend living space and require little maintenance.

Surrounded by five acres of organized banks of gravel, mulch, and dozens of different styles of paving stones (pavers), Derrick Griffith, president of Hearthside Shoppe in Plattsburgh sat and talked with me about how he started Pavers & Patios 24 years ago. “I grew up on a farm and I had that entrepreneurial spirit,” he began. “By the time I was 17, I had developed an interest in landscaping and being self-employed. My mom, Cindy, loaned me the money to buy my first tile saw and a truck.”

Speaking from his perch among baskets of smooth, carefully sorted decorative stones (the “prettiest stones on the market”) on the porch of his 10,000 square feet of retail space, Griffith shared his Pavers & Patios story. For more than two decades, Griffith and his team installed concrete pavers, retaining walls, landscaping products, and systems for residential and commercial applications throughout New York and Vermont. They still do. They also installed outdoor kitchens and fireplaces, fire pits, pool surrounds, entrance steps, ponds, waterfalls, walkways, sod, and mulch. They still do that too, and more.

A Destination Location

Even though the business was strong, a few years ago Griffith — who was facing a landmark birthday — begun to think about reducing the amount of his daily physical work. Serendipitously, family friend and owner of The Chimney Sweep, Roy L’Esperance, offered him the opportunity to buy the wood stove retail business and he took it.

“I’ve always loved this place,” explained Griffith. “I love that Roy gave me the opportunity to take it over. He knew I would carry on the legacy he had established. We remain great friends, and he still does business at his original location, The Chimney Sweep Fireplace Shop in Shelburne, Vermont.”

The business, still called Hearthside Shoppe, now encompasses Pavers & Patios as well as The Chimney Sweep. The combination gives clients more options for enhancing their homes and it gives Griffith the space to showcase an amazing variety of product.

A complete remodel incorporated Griffith’s tiles and pavers into fireplace designs paired with beautifully painted cast iron or soapstone wood stoves made by Jotul, a Norwegian manufacturer in business since 1853. “We help clients design their own fireplaces,” explained Griffith. “Then we do the framing and installation. We carry the best of the best and stand behind all our products. We put the whole package together.” Griffith currently has 300 wood stoves by manufacturers such as Jotul, Vermont Castings and Hearthstone stored in a 15,000 square foot warehouse off premises.

Moving outdoors, Griffith and I walked past expertly appointed patios, grills, fire pits, fire bowls, and smokers. Gesturing toward an open space to the side of the building, Griffith showed me the location of future outdoor displays. “I want to make this a destination location,” he said. “My vision is for clients to come and browse for an hour at a time looking at possibilities for enhancing their leisure time.”

A Relaxed Working Atmosphere

Although the store has tripled in size since 2019, Violet Chaney, Sales, describes the working atmosphere at Hearthside Shoppe among clients and co-workers as familial. “We build a relationship with clients who come see us every spring,” said Chaney. “Many of them come from Lake Placid, but we also have clients from Malone, Potsdam and Saranac Lake. We are very good at taking care of people, and we are all very close.”

Currently, Hearthside Shoppe has 12 full-time employees ranging from stove installers and technicians, paver installers (including Foreman Travis Langlois and Nic Woodley with a combined 40 years in the profession), and four salespeople. “I love having that relationship with our clients,” added Griffith. “Violet is the one on top of everything here.”

Justin Johnson, an expert on wood stoves and employee of 10 years, is proud to offer his expertise on wood stove purchases and installation. He makes it his priority to stay up-to-date on stove safety regulations and installation techniques. He likes knowing his client’s wood stove home installation is safe. He also enjoys knowing the history of wood stoves.

“I like learning the evolution of their technology,” said Johnson. “They are a simple, non-electric machine that uses catalytic converters to heat a space. Stoves also have aesthetics. They become a piece of the furniture and create an atmosphere.”

Next Steps

Griffith and his hardworking staff plan to expand their vision and offerings for their clients. Pools, hot tubs, saunas, and spas nestled in warm, inviting paver designs are in the works. “We are not a box store,” said Griffith. Stay tuned. Indoors and out, Hearthside Shoppe promises to continue to be more than a retail store.

Hearthside Shoppe/Pavers & Patios 1024 Military Turnpike Plattsburgh, NY 12901 (518) 561-9841

All About Pavers

Paving stones, or pavers, are made of natural stone, brick, concrete, or other materials. They come in hundreds of shapes, styles and colors to fit any outdoor space. Their wide range of construction materials offers absorbency for wet areas (pools and hot tubs), fire resistance (fire pits, fire bowls, grills, and smokers), strength, and resiliency over harsh winters.

While concrete may be a durable material, there’s something to be said for how it’s installed in a patio project. Because it is poured in slabs that cover a large surface area, it’s subject to cracking over time — an issue that can mar the appearance of the patio, introduce safety hazards and require expensive repairs.

What’s unique about pavers is that individual pieces interlock to create the patio structure. This not only allows for greater flexibility in the design, but it also contributes to developing a stronger foundation that is more resistant to cracks from environmental stresses.

Although their initial cost may be higher than traditional concrete, pavers don’t need staining or sealing. Repairs are easier (one paver at a time) and therefore they offer greater value and durability than poured or stamped concrete. They are also easy to install and maintain.

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