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Many consumers have changed their coffee and tea habits to brewing at home. However, while high-end coffee and tea electrics may be out of reach for some consumers, they are still looking for ways to home-brew their favorite beverages. This presents gourmet insiders with opportunities to offer less expensive, functional alternatives to making and presenting these hot beverages.
The key to a successful coffee and tea merchandising presentation, said Kerry Slattery, owner of Vermont Kitchen Supply, in Manchester Center, VT, is having a variety of pricepoints and smaller accessories as well as the big-ticket items. “Electrics is a low-margin, high-maintenance category. It is a lot more work than if you go for the accessory part of the business,” said Slattery. “It is a different consumer right now, but they want to buy something. You have to make sure that someone who has only $5 can go away with something.” She said her store does not have display space, but she makes the best use of her shelves to tell a coffee and tea story. “We are great at merchandising; it means having things in sections that make sense so consumers can find what they are looking for.”
Kitchenworks, in Chapel Hill, NC, does not have a coffee and tea electrics business, said owner Martha Jenkins, but has found success filling an important niche— providing a wide assortment of replacement parts, including Krups and Bonjour carafes. “If you’re trying to add to your business, you have to think of a problem that everybody has and fulfill that need,” she said.
French presses continue to be hot, because they provide a less expensive option than their electric counterparts. “French presses are always going to be the leader for us for coffee and tea. Bodum French presses are huge for us,” said Slattery.
Linda Hacker, owner of Kitchenstore, in Basalt, CO, agreed, “My biggest seller for coffee is French presses, so I carry different sizes from Bodum and Bonjour. Freiling is one our best-selling insulated French presses.”
Double-wall glassware works well for Kitchenworks, said Jenkins. She stocks glass from Highways. “Consumers are worried about lead, and now BPA,” reasoned Jenkins. Slattery countered that double-wall glassware doesn’t do well for her because of the pricepoint.
For some gourmet store owners, tea products sell year-round, while for others, business picks up for fourth quarter. “People buy a ton of teapots; we sell those year-round,” said Jenkins.
“Tea is a big gift category. A teapot doesn’t seem for us to be as much of a self-purchase as it is a giftable item,” said Slattery. “When people give gifts, they give pretty teapots.” Kitchenstore’s tea business also picks up for fourth quarter, said Hacker, while coffee products present a year-round sales opportunity.
For Kitchenworks, mugs are important. The retailer does well with Waechtersbach and Tag mugs, as well as coordinating tea-for-ones and mugs from For Life. For Kitchenstore, its Chantal mugs, said Hacker. Kitchenworks also spotlights basic white espresso and cappuccino cups from BIA Cordon Bleu, along with espresso spoons.
Travel mugs have also picked up steam, said gourmet insiders.
“Travel mugs is one of my biggest categories. Everybody is on the go,” said Kitchenworks’ Jenkins. Her travel mug assortment is primarily stainless steel. Her clientele prefers not to drink out of aluminum or plastic mugs. She said Thermos’s Tea Tumbler has proven popular.
Glass travel mugs are popular at Vermont Kitchen Supply. For Slattery, Anchor Hocking and Takeya are popular brands.
For last year’s Race for the Cure in Manchester, the store displayed “all things healthy” on its front table, including Anchor’s breast cancer awareness double-wall travel mug. “We sold every piece we had,” she said. “We tell them it’s the same glass they make test tubes out of; it’s a good sell for it,” said Slattery.
Mary Jurek Design’s Santa Fe round serve tray is made of 18/8 stainless steel and features an etched basketweave interior pattern and decorated with blue onyx stones. It can be hand washed only, but is said to never need polishing, noted the company.