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Food, Beverage Trends Help Drive Year-End Kitchenware Sales 

Tapping into food trends, especially those that have the locals buzzing, can prove to be a great guide as to which kitchen tools and gadgets to stock — especially come holiday gifting season. Fourth quarter sales are crucial for independent gourmet store owners, so having a bit of insight into what longtime and new customers might be looking for can set stores up to ring in a happier New Year.

As such, several of the gourmet store owners we spoke to make sure to keep on top of what’s hot so they are better prepared to serve their holiday shoppers.

“Most of the food trends don’t require trend-specific tools, so knowledge of what is trending and how to make it using your kitchen basics is generally enough,” said Liana Ottaviani, store manager at Fante’s Kitchen Shop in Philadelphia, PA. “However, with spiralizing for example, we always carried restaurant professional spiralizers and we expanded our assortment as popularity increased. As spiralizing wanes, we will eliminate a few SKUs, but keep a few core items and go forward from there.”

And while food trends may lead to stocking new items, like in the case of spiralizers, it may also give store owners the opportunity to revisit classics.

“Trends definitely guide what we choose for our in-store demonstrations, but we also focus on a lot of classic tools and techniques for the kitchen. For example, when Russian style pastry tips were new, we did a couple of Saturday demonstrations for decorating and using pastry bags with those tips,” said Ottaviani.

Demonstrating classic kitchen tools and gadgets in classes has also been important for Karmin Billadeau, owner of Bismarck, ND-based Karmin’s Kitchen Table. She said she recently brought Messermeister’s Pro-Touch vegetable peelers into a Thanksgiving-themed cooking class. It struck a chord with customers who realized that this tool would help them yield better results in their home kitchen.

“Bringing the peeler in gave us the opportunity to introduce it to customers, and say, ‘If your peelers are old, maybe try this.’ We remind them to replace their tools for the best results, especially if they are tackling more fresh ingredients for recipes,” Billadeau explained.

Karen West, a co-owner at The Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium in Brandon, FL agreed with this strategy of highlighting kitchen tools and gadgets in classes. This, she said, is a good way to allow customers to test out new products, while allowing her to zero in on items that could also work on the sales floor.

“Some of the gadgets that are very successful from our using them in classes are the Progressive Chopper, Oxo Spiralizer, Nex Trend Garlic Twist and the Chef’n Herb Zipper. I try to see what will fit in our market and see how it goes. It is fun to try new things and just always remember not everything will work for you,” she said.

West also utilizes her classes to hone in on the products that she feels her customers may be drawn to but may not have had the chance to experience for themselves.

“Salts and spices are very hot right now and since we also carry the Big Green Egg line of grills and grilling accessories, rubs are also popular for us. We use them in all of our cooking and grilling classes and it totally affects the sale of the product by using in a cooking class,” she said.

And while nation-wide food trends are something to keep in mind, Ottaviani explained that knowledge of the local food scene is crucial. She explained that her customers have recently increased interest in fermenting and pickling foods. She said that canning equipment has always been a staple in the store and a hot seller for customers in the Italian-American neighborhood, as many jar their own tomato sauce and other regional delicacies. This knowledge has allowed her to be a resource for those just starting to dabble in the process.

“For us, stocking canning jars and accessories year round has helped keep us as a destination for these tools. Customers may buy them at big box during the jarring season, but outside of that, they aren’t readily available at those locations,” she said.

Ottaviani also said that the store makes sure to stock an air lock kit that fits on canning jars. This, she said, helps makes it easier and less intimidating for the customer, while also helping to take the guesswork out of getting started.

No matter what products a retailer may think will sell well, merchandising these items correctly may make a difference in sales. Creative displays throughout the store, cross-merchandising opportunities and the availability of goods at the cash-wrap for impulse buys help to make money makers just that.

“Food huggers are selling like crazy this year, as are Gripsitcs. We do really well with both of them. We have customers come in and buy one of each size for all the people in their family. We keep them in a bucket at the counter so they are easy to grab and add to a sale,” said Billadeau.

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