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Sign Of The Bear’s Laura Havlek Shares IH+HS Prep Technique

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The 2019 edition of the International Home + Housewares Show (IH+HS) is less than one month away and both new retail attendees and those who make the return trip every year are gearing up to tackle the industry’s major show.

However, there is more to the show than just buying a plane ticket to Chicago and walking into the opening of the show. The show requires strategic planning as well as pre-show prep in order to maximize time spent with vendors and other retailers alike.

Laura Havlek, co-owner of Sonoma, CA-based Sign Of The Bear Kitchenware + Tableware, explained that there are certain things she does before attending IH+HS every year in order to help her and husband, Stephen, capitalize on the experience.

She told GOURMET INSIDER that she runs all of the necessary year-end reports, but then spends time reflecting on the total customer experience within her store.

“What do your customers – and your sales – tell you they want you to be? Compare last year and even past years to see what’s trending up and what’s slowing,” she said.

Havlek also noted that she also reflects on the way customers may see her store, including customer fatigue as well as displays and signage.

“Run reports to see what you sold and sold out of and spend time reviewing customer requests for what you don’t yet stock,” she said.

She also focuses on new signage, demonstrations and displays for best-selling items going into IH+HS, as well as brainstorms fresh merchandising looks. This, she said, can help her search for complementary items.

Havlek also spends time asking herself the following questions so that she is prepared to discuss new items, assets and merchandising needs with vendors at IH+HS:

  • What do the most successful stores you know do?
  • what did your friends with stores elsewhere sell lots?
  • What do your reps’ most successful stores in the region do?
  • What departments and displays vex you?
  • What do regional powerhouses stock and display? (These can include Amazon, local and regional stores, tourist stores and grocery/hardware stores, she noted.)
  • Ask yourself and your team where we’re leaving money on the table.

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