Cincinnati, OH-based Artichoke has been selected as a U.S. Global Innovator Award (gia) winner through the program sponsored by the International Housewares Association. The store, owned by husband and wife duo, Karen and Brad Hughes, opened its doors in April 2016.
The gia program was created by IHA and the International Home + Housewares Show to foster innovation and excellence in home and housewares retailing throughout the world. For the first time GOURMET INSIDER® is the U.S. sponsor representing housewares specialty retailing.
The competition is structured on a two-tier level, national and global, evaluating retailers within the following categories: overall mission statement, vision and strategy; store design and layout; visual merchandising, displays and window displays; marketing, advertising and promotions; customer service and staff training; and innovation.
As part of its honor, Artichoke will be featured in the gia showcase in the Hall of Global Innovation in the Lakeside Center lobby throughout the duration of the IH+HS, which will take place at Chicago’s McCormick Place from March 2 to March 5, 2019. There, visuals of the award-winning store design and branding ideas, exquisite visual merchandising and innovative displays will be on display. There are 30 national gia winners representing 29 countries and Artichoke will be competing for Global gia honors.
Artichoke, alongside several global honorees, will receive its award as part of the gia awards ceremony scheduled to be held during the IH+HS.
The store’s unique merchandising and product selection strategy follows its open concept approach and highlights a showroom aesthetic. Most of the products are showcased outside of their packaging for customers to touch and feel and often an entire product line is represented by only one piece. While this is not always feasible for independent gourmet housewares stores, Artichoke has taken this concept and run with it.
The Hugheses have received an array of accolades for Artichoke. The store was named one of Food Network‘s top kitchenware stores in the nation in July 2016, while the duo was given the 2017 HTI Rising Star award, named the winner of the 2017 Second Act award from its local community chamber of commerce and was named a 2018 Gourmet Insider All-Star.
And, said the couple, while becoming a gia winner was always in the back of their minds, the concept took a backseat to the development of their business strategy. That, however, proved to be the key to success for the owners.
“When we first attended IH+HS six years ago, we saw the gia award winners for retail stores and at that moment, I decided this level was something Artichoke needed to aspire to. It is an incredible honor to receive this award and we are humbled and grateful to the IHA for choosing us,” said Brad Hughes.
Added Karen Hughes, “This is such a phenomenal honor. On our very first trip to the IH+HS, prior to even developing a business plan for our store, we attended the gia Award presentation and were so impressed with the quality of the winning stores. We held that up as a benchmark for ourselves, and from the very beginning, we felt the absolute pinnacle would be to receive this recognition. We can’t believe we actually have received this incredible honor,” she said.