An increasing number of consumers are shunning high-powered gas lawn mowers in favor of manual or “reel” mowers -- which are both reasonably priced and kind to the environment, according to some manufacturers and distributors.
While the human-powered reel mowers have their drawbacks -- gas-powered mowers get the job done faster, for instance -- reel mowers are gaining traction in the market among consumers with small lawns and an environmental conscience. According to Teri McClain, inside sales administrator for American Lawn Mower, based in Shelbyville, Ind., sales of reel mowers nationwide have been increasing steadily over the last 15 years, and in the last five years have jumped from 250,000 units to 300,000 units sold annually.
Many new homes in the last decade have been built on one-third-acre lots with smaller lawns, allowing homeowners to mow their yards in less time, which for some makes reel mowers a practical choice, she said. In addition, Americans are encouraged to engage in cardiovascular activities, and pushing a reel mower can burn about 500 calories an hour, according to McClain, who added, “It’s a lot cheaper than a gym membership.”
Do it Best currently has six reel mower skus in its warehouses -- representing 18 percent of its total mower skus and ranging in price from $69 to $200. According to Jeff Ridgeway, the company’s merchandise manager for outdoor power equipment, member purchases of reel mowers were up more than 30 percent for fiscal year 2007, which ended in June.
Several factors contribute to the increase, Ridgeway said. “People are building bigger homes on smaller lots which means less lawn; they’re concerned about the environment and the high cost of gas; and we’ve heard some parents find reel mowers to be a good source of exercise for their children -- it gets them away from their favorite video game for awhile.”
In addition, Ridgeway explained that reel mowers can be easier to use in contemporary outdoor living spaces, which tend to involve more elements. “They’re light and maneuverable and don’t throw grass everywhere,” he said.
True Value stocks nine reel mowers, compared to 15 gas mowers and three electric models. The units have suggested retails of $69.99 to $219.99, but seasonal global product merchant Steve Clymer doesn’t believe price is a determining factor in whether or not a consumer buys