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The cover of this issue features the participants of an Exclusive Gourmet Insider Retailer Roundtable held at the recent GourmetHousewares Show in San Francisco.
The event, entitled: Power Promotions: Strategies To Drive Business in a Down Economy, brought together a diverse panel of gourmethousewares store owners from across the country; from the Southeast to the Northwest, from the East Coast to the West. The goal of this first-of-its-kind event was to establish a forum in which retail store operators could come together and exchange ideas, strategies, concerns and solutions; to begin a process of devising and disseminating best practices that can serve to strengthen this important industry segment.
One of the most noteworthy findings emerging from this event, many more of which can be found in the story beginning on page 10 of this issue, is that there is great desire on the part of gourmethousewares store operators for information about and interaction with their peers. Throughout the roundtable, highlights of which can be found on the Gourmet Insider website (gourmetinsideronline.com), participants listened eagerly to each other’s experiences, often taking notes on ideas they could implement in their own stores. Lisa Hartwick, owner of Hartwick’s for example, encourages store employees to select a favorite gadget and carry it with them in their apron. The employee enthusiasm— it is after all a “favorite”— and ready access when helping customers, invariably boosts sales.
Mary Moore, founder of The Cook’s Warehouse, shared her strategies for stretching ad and marketing dollars by teaming with local businesses and organizations, sharing insights that roundtable participants could take back and implement in their communities.
The event, whose sponsors included Bonjour, Breville, The GourmetHousewares Show, Regal Ware, Scanpan and Zak Designs, also provided a forum for vendors and retailers to network and included a Q&A session that highlighted both the challenge and opportunity in the retailer/vendor relationship.
One noteworthy revelation stemming from this dialog centered around the challenge many small retailers face in training their staff. Participants stressed how important it is for their employees to understand the unique stories associated with the products they sell, and the value these backstories can have in sparking consumer purchase intent.
They also expressed the value that sales training demonstrations or related video modules on vendor websites could have in helping to train sales staffs, with several noting they send staff regularly to vendor websites for more information.
Vendors on hand, while expressing some surprise that such an effort was so eagerly sought, also noted how easy such an effort could be to quickly effectuate. The interchange highlighted the value that communication between the two groups could have and reinforced the need for events that can bring the communities together so ideas can be exchanged and solutions developed.
In a related discussion, participants noted the importance of having a show that addresses their needs, with many noting that at larger shows they often get lost in the shuffle as vendors with big box customers find it challenging to meet with single-store operators.
Unlike major chains, which often use shows as extensions of their normal vendor-retailer meetings process, independent gourmet store operators say they come to shows with the intent to write orders and many who came to the recent GourmetHousewares Show did just that.
What this event highlighted is that there is a growing sense of community among independent gourmet store operators and an eagerness to identify and achieve common goals. In the months and years ahead, Gourmet Insider will unveil new initiatives aimed at helping to build this community and to serve as a bridge that connects such independent retailers both with each other and the vendor community.
We would like to thank the retailers and sponsors who participated in this inaugural enterprise and encourage our readers to share their thoughts and ideas for future roundtable panel discussions.
Stay tuned to Gourmet Insider and gourmetinsideronline.com in the coming months as we move forward with new events, new sections and new partnerships aimed at helping connect the business of gourmethousewares.
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.