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Practice The Three Cs Cookware, Cutlery & Cords Still Reign

Everyone should remember the three Rs of elementary education.

But did you know elementary gourmet housewares retailing has the three Cs?

It’s true. Full-fledged independent gourmet housewares retailers typically can be identified by their commitment to the three Cs: Cookware, Cutlery and Cords (C-slang for kitchen electrics).

Other housewares categories, of course, are vital to this channel, foremost among them gadgets and kitchen tools, the biggest revenue producers for many storeowners. But the space-and cost-intensive three Cs collectively factor heaviest in the effort by operators to authenticate and distinguish their appeal as top-of-mind destinations for premium gourmet kitchen products, guidance and service.

It’s not unusual for gift or specialty food stores to offer complementary kitchen tools, specialty cookware, barware and the like. This may cause some competitive grief for gourmet kitchenware stores in certain markets. But it can’t match the focused commitment to the three Cs that validates genuine, full-service gourmet housewares stores.

This isn’t to suggest such retailers should be any less committed to surrounding their kitchenware core with appetizing adjacencies that help inspire and complete the gourmet experience. Success stories abound from retailers who selectively feature foods, linens, tableware and giftware to generate foot traffic and incremental sales.

Specialty coffees, teas, oils and seasonings, for example, are now everyday staples stocked by many stores with strategic zest for their combined impulse and destination potential. The opportunity to promote locally sourced foods — shelf-stable and otherwise — or to lure customers with shop-made treats, such as popcorn and fudge, magnifies the community-centric advantage for neighborhood cook shops.

But the repeat traffic and sales gleaned from such adjunct products could amount to little more than the retailing equivalent to empty calories if they don’t ultimately pay off in the form of more repeat customers for the premium cookware, cutlery and corded products that ultimately pay the rent.

Presenting well-rounded selections affiliated with trending food and drink lifestyles — with some surprises sprinkled in every now and then — can be a productive merchandising strategy at a time when the battle to draw people through the doors is at its most demanding. Moves that start to blur the identity of a bona fide gourmet kitchenware store, however, might leave such a shop vulnerable.

Just as the local specialty food store touts its advantage over any place stocking a limited selection of specialty foods, the local gourmet housewares store thrives by touting its advantage over any place stocking a limited selection of gourmet housewares.

Lots of places sell gourmet housewares without being gourmet housewares stores. Gourmet housewares stores, similarly, should look to sell myriad products related to gourmet housewares in an effort to drive traffic and incremental sales.

Just remember what made you a genuine gourmet housewares store in the first place. And keep practicing the three Cs.

It’s elementary.

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