A Cozy Fireplace of Naperville, Crest Hill and New Lenox

Interviewed by Daina Saleh from Naperville Sun 

Number of years in business: In business since 1995, 18 years in Naperville

What does this business sell? “We provide quality products and exceptional service,” Suzette Hopkins said. “Many of our installers have been with us over 20 years. … And what sets us apart from some of the other competitors out there is that we are American-made. We are able to cherry-pick the best products on the market. We can provide personal consultations because this is what we do. This is all we do.”

What was the impetus for starting this business? “My husband has been in the industry for over 30 years. He has worked for other dealers. And as you know, working for other dealers, you feel you can do it a lot better on your own. You want to do better. You want to address your customer’s needs. You want to provide them with the customer service.”

What’s the best thing about being in Naperville? “Eighteen years ago, Naperville was a booming area, and we saw a need. And people were asking for us. They were traveling to other locations. Greg and I, we thought it would be a great place to open a store, and we live about 20 minutes away from here.”

When is your busiest time? “The busiest time of the year is from September to the end of December. And if weather permits and if we have a good winter, then we are busy from September to March.”

What is the most popular thing you sell? “I would say gas inserts. … (People) have this massive wood-burning fireplace. This beautiful masonry fireplace, it’s gorgeous. (But) it’s a hole in the wall. It takes all the heat from inside the house, and it goes right up the chimney. And what we do is we have either gas or wood inserts (that) we put it in as a containment. What it does, it takes all the heat that’s inside the fireplace and throws it right back into the house. So people have significantly saved between 65 and 75 percent on their (natural) gas bills.”

What is a less popular thing you would recommend? “Cleaning products!”

What item did you stock that surprised you when it became a big seller? “Gas or wood stoves. Because some of our customers like those for their sun room. In the sun room they want heat because it’s cold in there. So they take a stove, gas or wood, and that provides them with the heat that they need.”

What is the thing you most like to do in your work? “Making the customer happy.”

What’s the best thing about owning your own business? “Educating and helping customers. Educating yourself about the products out there. Educating yourself about what the customers are looking for. They are looking more for user-friendly products. They want to turn a button, and it’s on.”

What is the biggest downside to owning your business? “You can’t make everybody happy.”

Tell us about your most memorable customer? “It was a couple that never had a fireplace before. It was coming around the holidays. They were having the holidays at their house. They walked into the Crest Hill store and saw a display that they liked. And we made them a Merry Christmas. They just loved the fireplace. They came in and showed us pictures. They brought us tamales and food, I mean, they were just so happy. It was a very touching moment.”

What is the biggest misconception about your business? “I would say variety. The variety of fireplaces, inserts. People are not aware of how much they can utilize their fireplace and make it work for them.”

How would you describe your business philosophy? “Taking care of our customer. It’s all about helping customers find the perfect fireplace for them. And that’s the first thing we ask our customers when they come in: ‘What do you want from your fireplace?’ … Being on the cutting edge of what’s out there. Being on top of what products are out there.”

When it comes time to retire, is there a family member taking over for you? “What is retire? There is no retire.”

How has your business changed over the years? “Back when (natural) gas was expensive, a wood (burning fireplace) was hot. Now that gas is not expensive, wood is not so hot. Because they can heat their homes with gas. People are getting away from wood because it may be a breathing issue, asthmatic issues. … It’s also a maintenance thing. And it’s also a costly thing because you have to buy the wood and you have to have your chimney cleaned every other year. But there still are people who like the wood-burning fireplaces. It’s a choice.”

Do you have any future plans to expand? “No, we’re done. We have the three stores. We need to focus on the quality and the stores themselves, with the people and customers. We cannot do that if we expand too much.”

Daina Saleh is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

Having over 100 years of collective experience. Let us help you to plan and install a new fireplace or wood stove, reface or decorate your fireplace. We sincerely would enjoy the opportunity to work with you.

how can we help you?

A Cozy Fireplace is your complete neighborhood fireplace, wood stove,
gas grill, gas lamp and fireplace accessories store. With convenient locations in Crest Hill, Naperville and New Lenox A cozy Fireplace has a location close by with a full showroom and expert staff to assist you with any needs you have for your fireplace or grill

BBB Accredited Business since 2003
BBB Accredited Business since 2003