Home Find What You’ve Been Missing at The Inspired Home Show
January 20, 2022
Find What You’ve Been Missing at The Inspired Home Show


There is just something about an in-person trade show that can’t be recreated digitally.

An in-person show can be both diverse and curated: diverse in the way it can present the full scope of an industry’s offering; curated in how it can highlight the newest and most essential products to enable selections tailored to each buyer’s needs.

I’ve heard throughout the pandemic from retail buyers that they miss the opportunity for find new products and new suppliers afforded by in-person shows. There is a valuable nuance to such in-person discovery that can’t be matched by online meetings or e-commerce B2B marketplaces, however efficient and necessary they may be these days to conduct business year round.

Buyer-seller dealings by necessity have been far more transactional than curatorial during a pandemic that at first drove intense demand for whatever was in stock then disrupted the wide-scale introduction of products with no assurance of timely delivery even when hyper-expensive shipping containers could be secured.

Supply chain snags and inflated costs are likely to continue into the first half of 2022. But signs that these challenges are easing mean the planning spotlight soon will shine again on how retailers and suppliers can renew a more intimately collaborative approach to creating differentiated programs whose value is defined by more than requisite logistical prowess. That personal approach often starts at a trade show.

Recent gift and home markets in Dallas and Atlanta confirmed independent retailers were hungry to get back to the show floor to replenish stock, preview new products, get a jump on 2022 orders and otherwise enthusiastically rub elbows again with vendors. Large and mid-sized retailers also should by now feel the same hunger.

The International Housewares Association announced this week The Inspired Home Show 2022 is proceeding on a shortened, three-day schedule March 5-7 with a safety protocol requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of checking in for the show at Chicago’s McCormick Place.  Show exhibitors and attendees must also follow the additional on-site protocols mandated by the City of ChicagoCook County and McCormick Place, according to IHA. These currently include an indoor masking mandate and a proof of vaccination requirement to purchase and consume food and beverages in designated communal eating/drinking areas. IHA soon will release additional details, including instructions on how to provide vaccination and testing information.

IHA is demonstrating with its plan both a heightened responsibility to hold a safe show and a heightened determination to serve the industry’s need for the resumption of its largest and most valuable in-person B2B marketplace.

Yes, The Inspired Home Show confronts lingering COVID-19 issues that could impact participation. But it is moving forward confidently and carefully at a pivotal moment when the industry can benefit greatly from the return of the show.

It should be noted that trade shows for several industries across the U.S. are united in their resolve to open their doors again safely for constituents eager to discover new pathways to growth. Vaccine-mandated CES, as expected, played to a considerably lighter audience earlier this month in Las Vegas as Omicron was surging. Still, many exhibitors, in particular smaller and mid-sized companies, said they benefitted from their participation in the show.

It’s a sure bet that retailers of every size and scope attending The Inspired Home Show in Chicago will find new opportunities that would continue to elude them if left only to plan and manage their businesses through what can be an impersonal digital lens.

Indications from health organizations that the latest COVID-19 surge should calm considerably by early March are encouraging. As is the IHA’s plan to deliver a safe, diverse, instructive and productive marketplace best experienced in person. The home and housewares industry has missed that.

See you in Chicago.

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