As independent gourmet kitchenware stores continue to navigate the increasingly competitive retail climate, differentiating ones business from the big box stores and online mass retailers is imperative. The storeowners that participated in the summer 2017 GOURMET INSIDER® roundtable explored this timely topic.
One of the most important points gleaned from the discussion was how critical it is to provide customers with an enjoyable in-store customer experience. This experience, said gourmet insiders, includes offering unique, local and handmade goods as well as taking advantage of vendor partnerships for in-store experiences.
Held during the summer Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market and hosted by AmericasMart, the roundtable was made up of eight independent gourmet housewares retailers. Participants included: Sarah Nicholas, owner, Ladles and Linens Kitchen Shoppe, Richmond, VA; Ginger Cobl, owner, The Cupboard, Decatur, AL; Josh Stack, vp purchasing, J.L. Hufford, Lafayette, IN; Michael Liss, owner, Common Housefly, Black Mountain, NC; Kelli Colacioppo, co-owner, The Cook’s Station, Greenville, SC; Jeff Curry, buyer, Everything Kitchens, Springfield, MO; Darren Barker, owner, Chef’s Corner Store, Centennial, CO; and Jane Davis-Wood and Sara Woosencraft, co-owners, Relish, Sheboygan, WI.
Moderated by Emily Cappiello, managing editor of Gourmet Insider, the roundtable was sponsored by GelPro, John Ritzenthaler Company, Jura, ScanPan Global, AmericasMart Atlanta and UrbanTrend.
To kick off the discussion, Josh Stack of J.L. Hufford honed in on the importance of sharing product knowledge with customers and how a retailer’s relationship with vendors can serve as resource.
“We know that the way customers look at products is different now. They don’t just want to be sold to. We want to make it a really enjoyable experience so when they get the product they are really happy with it. If you give it your best shot then you can build a lifelong customer,” he said. “Anyone can sell a product, but to give the customer a better experience, we like to learn about the products. So the [vendor]partnership that we look for is one where we can ask a lot of in-depth questions.”
For the full story, see the Sept/Oct issue of GOURMET INSIDER.