How holiday businesses stay lucrative year-round
Name: Steve Litton
Busy season: From Shabbos Nachamu until Succos
Location: Lawrence, New York
Business name: Litton Sukkah
Years in business: Since 1999. We started manufacturing our own line of succahs about 12 years ago
How did you get started?
From the age of 12, I was putting up and taking down succahs together with my brother, first for our family and then for neighbors. Eventually, it grew into a business. As we got older, we realized the succahs on the market weren’t sturdy enough. Customers would get upset that their succahs were flying away in the wind, but we hadn’t designed them, we’d only put them up! But our clients’ frustration inspired us to design our own structurally sound, high-end, quality, lifetime product that would also be easy to store.
When do you start preparing?
We never stop. Our succahs are handmade, and we’re manufacturing succahs all year long.
What’s it like at peak season?
For about three weeks, we’re all working 18 to 20-hour days nonstop. Even during Chol Hamoed, we’re busy putting up succahs for simchahs like bar mitzvahs and upsherens. And it doesn’t just end when Succos is over — we get busy then taking down succahs and processing orders for the next year.
When is downtime?
About a month after Succos until January.
What do you do with the leftover stock?
We don’t have leftover stock. Everything is made-to-order, and we have an inventory of rentals.
What do you do the rest of the year?
We’re still making succahs. I have multiple shops and locations so I’m always running back and forth to check what’s needed.
How do you make it work parnassah-wise?
It’s tricky trying to gauge the market because we don’t want to overproduce and lose money. We never really know what will happen. During Covid, more people were home instead of going to Israel, so they bought their first succah, but who knows what’s going to happen next year?
How do you staff the business?
It can be hard to get seasonal workers, and during peak season, we’re always adding more trucks and teams. But it works.
What do you make sure to do in your off season?
I can’t say I really crash after peak season — I’ve been doing it my whole life so I’m kind of used to it. But I do take a month off to decompress (I enjoy skiing and surfing) and to get organized, getting all my notes in order for the next year.
Things you didn’t know about the business before you started:
I didn’t know how much of my income would have to be reinvested back into the business once I started manufacturing. It’s like a never-ending reinvestment.
Recommendations for someone who wants to enter the business:
You need a good name more than anything else. I don’t think people can just enter this business. You need good reports going around about your work.
Most memorable customer:
We made a custom succah for Amare Stoudemire… he’s six feet-ten inches, so it had to be tall. He put it up outside his Brooklyn apartment without any issues. This year there was an HBO sports special on him, and it showed him davening in his Litton succah.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 892)
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