By Allison Zisko
Last month’s Gourmet Housewares Show delivered on its promise to widen the playing field for housewares vendors who want to expand their channels of distribution and seek out specialty store and gift accounts, exhibitors said.
The show, which made its first appearance as a section of the New York International Gift Fair, after a brief hiatus, had many satisfied exhibitors pledging to return to the venue next year.
“I intend to come back and I intend to get a bigger booth,” said Kerry Cooper, vice president, marketing and sales for Polder. Cooper said he saw mostly smaller retailers and interior designers on the first day of the show and larger retailers and corporate executives on the second day. The show “is a nice accent to what we have at the [International Home +] Housewares Show,” Cooper said.
Though Polder’s main category is in laundry, “kitchen is growing for us big time,” Cooper said, and that’s what the company emphasized at the show. It launched its first group of tools under a new brand called Soft Prep. Made of either a rigid nylon or spring steel core and covered in food grade silicone, the line includes a spatula/measuring spoon, a pasta server/measure and a mixing spoon, among others.
While some companies promoted products that they introduced earlier this year, others unveiled new products and still others were new to the industry altogether. Corkcicle, for example, is a brand new company that made its U.S. trade show debut in New York and went home with a Best New Product Award, for its wine chiller.
Show owner and organizer GLM promoted the show as a third-quarter buying and selling opportunity and as a complement to the existing housewares trade show calendar. One of its biggest selling points to vendors was the opportunity to interact in New York with specialty, lifestyle, gift and gourmet stores, particularly those in the Northeast that they may not ordinarily do business with. “I think the success of the show was based on products with relevance to the gift, home and lifestyle resources,” said Dorothy Belshaw, NYIGF director and senior vice president at GLM.
The categories most conducive to cross-merchandising opportunities at those retailers, according to Belshaw, include serveware, wine and beverage accessories, small electrics, gadgets and kitchen textiles. Belshaw believes the small electrics and gadgets categories present expansion opportunities.
Brian Shaw, business development manager at Clean Cut, said, “Compared to the Housewares Show, I’m seeing smaller retailers here. More gourmet shops, more e-commerce sites and a higher percentage of northeastern retailers. New York City is a great location for this show, because we are headquartered in Pitman, N.J., right outside of Philadelphia. Business has been good at this show. We’ve placed orders here, which I didn’t expect.”
Though Chef’s Planet didn’t bring any new products to the show, “we have seen so many new eyes,” said Audrey Parker, business manager. As some of its product has a gift aspect, it’s a natural fit to some of the independent gift stores it saw at the show, and that’s an expanding channel for the company, she added. “We’re already in all of the big, national stores...This could really work out for us.”
Ken Zorovich, president of Zoku, which also won a Best New Product award, said the show enabled him to see his products – quick ice-pop makers – in a different light, with potential in many different channels like specialty toy stores. “High-end design can work in a lot of environments,” he said.
Housewares vendors will have another opportunity to showcase their wares in New York in January, at the winter edition of the Gift Fair, which will take place Jan. 28 through Feb. 2. It will not be singled out as the Gourmet Housewares Show with the accompanying programming, according to Belshaw, and its products will be located directly adjacent to the tabletop division instead of being intermingled with them. “While the resource will remain in place, it won’t be supported by gourmet activities,” Belshaw said. “That will be reserved for summertime.”
The Gourmet Housewares Show will return next Aug. 18–23, with an emphasis on design and innovation. “We will be a differentiator,” said Belshaw. “I think the direction we’re headed in now is one that can benefit the industry.”–Andrea Lillo and David Gill contributed to this story.