While the retail climate is still challenging, the sentiment among independent gourmet housewares store owners at the 2017 Total Home & Gift Show at the Dallas Market Center is mostly positive, with many of them beginning to see brighter sales numbers as the year progresses.
Anne Dowell, owner of Apron Strings Kitchen Store in Hutchinson, KS, said the beginning of the year was more challenging than normal but has started to pick up steam more recently.
“Even though January was hard, we are already back to where we were last year in sales,” she said.
After moving the store’s location several years ago, she explained that it was difficult for customers to realize the store’s value as a destination, something that was integral to her business prior to the move. However, she said that with a new chef added to the team and the addition of cooking classes, she’s been able to bounce back. Additionally, she said, the classes have helped to spark sales.
“Our best selling items are the ones she uses in our classes right now. People want to use those items to re-create the experience at home,” she explained.
Tony Curtis-Wellings, who also began using more visual merchandising this year at his Austin, TX-based gourmet store, Faraday’s, said that his sales have been up since making the change. He is urging more people in the industry to begin using that tactic to boost sales and refresh the look of the store.
Business has also continued to rise at Karmin’s Kitchen Table in Bismarck, ND. Owner Karmin Billadeau did acknowledge that the business climate isn’t optimal, but she has taken steps to continue the growth of her store – like checking in with her reps to ensure she is on the right path as well as launching a new website with a few items for sale through e-commerce.
“It’s always going to be a challenge, but I like a little competition,” she said.