Home Gourmet Housewares Retailers Buying at Atlanta Market
January 14, 2022
Gourmet Housewares Retailers Buying at Atlanta Market

By Peter Giannetti

Editor-in-Chief

The winter Atlanta Market opened this week at AmericasMart with steady retail traffic, demonstrating the resolve of independent housewares, gift, decor and lifestyle retailers to resume in-person product discovery and planning.

Sales for the independent housewares retail segment, according to some observers, collectively grew year-over-year by 60% in 2021. Several independent retailers in Atlanta said they took aggressive stock positions in core categories early in 2021, and they benefitted from their in-stock position when comparable products were unavailable from larger stores and e-commerce platforms.

Laura Havlek, co-owner of Sign of the Bear Kitchenware in Sonoma, Calif., said she was at Atlanta Market for its wide product scope. Havlek said the market is valuable for creative inspiration and visual presentation cues. She emphasized the importance of the in-person interaction with multi-line sales reps and vendor principals at the market who can help filter the diverse selection based on the distinctive needs of her store.

HTI Buying Group held its 2022 Vendor Forum at the Atlanta Market, attracting more than 35 stores to meet with vendors representing some 50 brands.

While getting an early-year jump on writing business was a primary objective of independent housewares retailers in Atlanta, KC Lapiana, principal of HTI Buying Group, said retailer priorities at the market went beyond stock replenishment and new product discovery. She said retailers and vendors at the HTI forum came together to explore how to help each other achieve goals in 2022.

Dave West, a former gourmet housewares retailer who now works on retailer programs for HTI Buying Group, acknowledged several new stores in the group that were in Atlanta.

“The new stores and younger retailers are bringing us new ideas, thoughts, and processes,” West said, adding how veteran retailers, in turn, can help the new retailers by sharing success stories and best practices.

Kim Schlicksup, who in December of last year opened the Joyful Gourmet store Libertyville, Ill., was among the new HTI member retailers at Atlanta Market for the first time. Schlicksup said it was helpful, as a new retailer, to meet in person with current and prospective suppliers.

Hannah Bender, who in 2021 acquired Cincinnati kitchenware Artichoke, was at the Atlanta Market with former store owner Karen Hughes in part to find new tabletop resources for a planned expansion of the store this year.

Bren Isgitt, owner of Kiss the Cook in Wemberly, Texas was back at an in-person market for the first time since before the pandemic. She said she was eager to renew in-person connections with vendors while reloading in core categories after what she said was a robust holiday selling season for the store.

Retailers in Atlanta were primed to write orders, housewares vendors agreed.

“They not just here to kick the tires; they’re here to buy,” said Jonathon Pearson, president of Atlanta-area housewares rep agency Kitchen2Table, which has a showroom in AmericasMart. Pearson added many retailers were not just looking to reorder from brands already in their stores. They were interested, he said, in exploring the full selection of products in his showroom.

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