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What’s the secret to building bakeware profits? Cross merchandise it with tools, appliances, mixes and other baking essentials, say Gourmet Insiders.
“Bakeware doesn’t necessarily pop, but when you put things with it, like fun dish towels and bright mixers, and you can make it interesting,” said Claire Nelson, owner of Board & Basket, in Lebanon, NH.
For cookie displays, Nelson displays cookie cutters and cookie sheets on a freestanding triangle, along with mixers, gadgets and ingredients. “During apple season, we display everything you’d use to make an apple pie in the same spot,” she added. Board & Basket displays most of its bakeware on a slat wall. “We keep like with like, and we find that this is the easiest way for customers to compare the different lines that we carry.”
At Dominic’s Kitchen Store, in Park Ridge, IL, store manager Amy Crawford agreed. “One of the reasons people come to our store for bakeware is we sell a lot of things that go with the bakeware. We’re a one-stop shop.” She added, “People come in the store looking for something they’ve seen on a cooking show. When they get here, they are excited to see things that they didn’t even know they needed.”
A largely fourth quarter business driven by holiday baking, metal bakeware posted $31.6 million in gourmet channel sales in 2009, according to Gourmet Insider’s “State of the Industry” report. And as a contributor to independents’ gross sales, bakeware was ranked as one of the six top-selling categories by 86% of respondents to the Gourmet Insider survey.
With the economy still lagging, retailers said bakeware remains a category worth cultivating. First, consumers cook and bake more at home when times are tough and second, bakeware hits lower pricepoints than many other product segments in the typical gourmethousewares store.
“Cookie sheets and jelly roll pans are always on order,” said Dominic’s Kitchen Store’s Crawford. “We also sell a lot of novelty bakeware.” She cited examples such as holiday-themed muffin and cake tins, from suppliers such as Nordic Ware, as particularly good sellers and added that, “during the holidays— Thanksgiving, Christmas— we sell even more [holiday novelty bakeware].”
At A La Carte, in Estes Park, CO, where the majority of the store’s clientele are tourists, it’s the fun, novelty bakeware items that sell the best, according to Carol Smith, a store employee who does much of the bakeware buying. “People here are on vacation and they are in fun mode. Holiday-oriented bakeware, such as gingerbread cookie and cake items, do well during the holidays.” She added, “One of our popular year-round bakeware products is Cake-sicles from Norpro,” which has compartments for eight individual cakes with room for sticks to make the cakes easy to hold and eat.
Smith also noted that people like to make a lot of fun things for children, a sentiment that was echoed by both Crawford and Board & Basket’s Nelson. “Vendors have come out with a lot of children’s baking items. Kid’s baking items do well when they are sold in sets, with a fun apron, hat and fun utensils,” Nelson said.
Dominic’s Kitchen, Crawford added, carries a lot of kids’ cooking items and tools as well, most of them centered on baking.
While displays that appeal to the shopper’s sense of whimsy might attract them to the bakeware, it is the products’ functionality, or multi-functionality, that keeps them coming back for more. Bakeware that appeals to the sweeter side of things seems to be more sought after by consumers in many shops. However, for some, such as Bridgehampton, NY’s Loaves & Fishes Cookshop, bakeware needs to be marketed as multifunctional, for sweet and savory dishes. For this reason, store owner Gerritt Van Kempen doesn’t promote his bakeware for any one purpose. “ People like multi-purpose things, not just for savory and not just for sweet. We don’t sell a cookie sheet, we sell a baking sheet,” he said.
For functionality, Chicago Metallic-branded bakeware was cited as a best seller by some store owners, with USA Pans and Emile Henry also popular choices. “Chicago Metallic is historically our best-selling bakeware because of the pricepoint and the durability. It was our strongest seller during the 2009 holiday season,” said Nelson. “We also sell quite a bit of Emile Henry because it is a consistently good product.”
Dominic’s Kitchen Store’s Crawford, who said Chicago Metallic and Nordic Ware were top bakeware sellers for them, added that USA Pans, “which have wavy bottoms that allow air flow underneath and brown nicely,” have also gained popularity.
Loaves & Fishes Cookshop finds Kaiser to be one of its best-selling brands, said Van Kempen. He added that the majority of the bakeware he sells is to those customers who are coming into the shop specifically for bakeware.
Test-driving bakeware products ensures that it works the way it is supposed to and by allowing employees to try the products out helps staff members to better understand the products they are selling. Nothing sells the products as well as an educated staff, store owners agreed.
“Because we are up against big-box stores and the Internet, customers are coming to us for the education. ‘What makes this cookie sheet better than other cookie sheets?’ they want to know. When we use something and it works beautifully, they take our word for it,” Nelson said. Because of this, she encourages her staff to try out as much of the bakeware the store carries as possible.
Van Kempen added that, in his store, the staff gets as much information as they can from the shoppers about how the product will be used to ensure they point them to the right bakeware for the project. “We ask questions about what they are making and what recipe they are using. We go in-depth. The more you know, the better you can help the customer,” he said.
And at Dominic’s Kitchen Store, said Crawford, everyone has a lot of cooking experience. “Learning helps us to sell the products better. We’re a chef-owned store, and Dominic [Cimilluca, the store’s owner] is constantly encouraging us to learn.”
Villeroy & Boch’s La Classica Contura features a design inspired by the domes and rotundas of Europe. The collection boasts strong lines with architectural undertones. It is made from dishwasher and microwave-safe bone porcelain.