By Andrea Lillo
ATLANTA–AmericasMart makes a jump into housewares with the new 2 West building, set to open in January, coinciding with the International Gift and Home Furnishings Market.
On the eighth floor, housewares product will be a significant segment of the lines shown, along with gourmet food. The focus on housewares came about as the show already had “a decent presence of housewares” and buyers for that category, said Kristi Forbes, executive director of sales for AmericasMart. In addition, housewares products were represented in the temporaries, but “we never had the opportunity to expand”—until now.
About 95 percent of all housewares exhibitors at the market will be on this floor, she said, adding, “It makes it easy for the buyers.”
The new space will include companies that are expanding, others moving from the temporary booth space, as well as others that are brand new to the show. Forbes estimated about 80 new lines in the housewares category will be seen at market come January.
One of the highlights of the floor will be the new cooking demo area in the middle. With state-of-the-art equipment such as Viking electrics, it will be the place for cookbook signings, wine tastings and, of course, chef demos. A schedule of events for the kitchen is still in the works, she said, and exhibitors will also be able to rent it for a nominal fee to put on their own events.
Cookware company Swiss Diamond has shown its line at the market through its local representative for the past few years and will exhibit in the new wing in January. The new concentration on housewares “is a great idea,” said Allan Wolk, Swiss Diamond president. “Before, the market was more for the gift category, but housewares is an important part of the total gift category,” he said. “I’m a firm believer in regional shows; they do very well.”
Other exhibitors such as representative company Dugan-Bliss have been with the show for a long time. Dugan-Bliss will stick with its current showroom space on the 17th floor.
“Atlanta has become such a national and international show,” said Verne Bliss, principal of Dugan-Bliss, and the company has had a showroom with the market for 25 years. He does travel to other shows in the United States, and “they seem more regional and less busy.” With 60 percent of his business in the housewares category, Bliss sees strength in such categories as wine and home entertaining.
Oggi is another exhibitor with longevity, having been there for more than 15 years, said Richard Murphy, director of sales and marketing for Oggi.
“It is the first show of the new year,” he said. Since the International Home & Housewares Show moved to March, “Many majors and independents like to see what’s new and happening in the marketplace” and come to Atlanta, he said. “It also serves as a beginning new year ‘buyer barometer’ for the seasons and shows to come.” In addition, Murphy said, the show has attracted more majors and export customers.
Along with its own space, Oggi is also showing in its regional representative booth, Synergy Sales, which will be expanding into the new space on the eighth floor, Murphy added. With its growth in areas like beverageware, food prep and storage, and barware, Oggi “specializes in producing and promoting value-priced products, which are perfect for today’s economy and market,” he said.
The Sarut Group has been in Atlanta for several years, and even considered moving its showroom to the new space, but “We decided to stay in our existing showroom as we have built up recognition for this location over the last three years,” said Sharon Hitchcock, director of marketing and e-commerce. She did feel, however, that the new space “should generate excitement and increased foot traffic from buyers.”
For Sarut, the show “is a major market and we have many key customers who only attend Atlanta,” Hitchcock said. “The show attracts buyers from all over the United States, not just from the Southeast.”