In 2016, Gourmet Catalog will celebrate 35 years in business with a nod to its past, while embracing its future. Janis Johnson, president and founder of the buying group established the company in 1981. The former retail store and cooking school owner began GC with 74 members. Today, Gourmet Catalog consists of 200 vendor members worldwide and more than 350 store locations nationwide.
“Having been part of this industry for more than 35 years, I sincerely believe that it is led by some of the most passionate business owners in the country,” said Johnson. “Passion is essential to survive in an industry that endures such immense and demanding challenges and continues to evolve and take on new forms that no one thought possible.”
Some of the challenges that GC has helped members navigate over the years, include an oversaturated gourmet kitchenwares market in the 1980s, followed by fierce competition and the introduction and growth of big box businesses and e-commerce sales in the 1990s, as well as the rise of kitchenware product made in China.
Gourmet Catalog stated that it supported its buying group members through all of these challenges with services such as money-saving programs with vendors to combat the allure of big box stores, as well as customer-facing tools such as the GC eNewsletter, that help store owners make a more personal connection with customers.
“Gourmet Catalog’s rich history and expertise empowers the buying group to provide solutions that support our members through all unforeseen challenges, allowing local retail to remain strong and relevant against all obstacles,” Johnson added.
According to Gourmet Catalog, its membership promotes and upholds growth, relationships and success for its member retailers and vendors. As the group looks ahead, it said it is committed to grow and evolve as needed order to support the ever-changing shifts in service needs and challenges faced by independent retailers.
As for the immediate future, Gourmet Catalog is prepped and ready for its 35th Anniversary celebration in January at its Start the Year Member Conference during AmericasMart in Atlanta. The buying group plans to share with members new services and programs geared to further support them well into the future.