Michelle Codd and Keli DeRitis, owners of Poggi Bonsi, were at the International Housewares Show recently in Chicago looking for new products for their two stores in the Seattle, Washington and their online store which ships worldwide. While at the show the two were interviewed by a representative from Dow Jones Newswires and the story was picked up by the Wall Street Journal. Read the full article below and stop in to Poggi Bonsi at The Landing in Renton or in the Olde Burien Shopping District or check us out online at PoggiBonsiGifts.com.
By Bob Tita
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
CHICAGO (Dow Jones)–Housewares companies that skipped their industry's largest U.S. trade show in 2009 returned this year, lured by the prospect of retailers adding new products to their shelves to bring back shoppers.
Countertop-appliance maker Hamilton Beach Brands Inc., vacuum cleaner business Hoover and others passed on last year's International Home and Housewares Show at Chicago's McCormick Place because of the beleaguered economy. These companies have returned in a bid to convince buyers they haven't lost touch with what consumers want.
Show organizers said the number of exhibitors at the 113-year-old show increased 10% from last year to nearly 2,000. The preliminary attendance estimate for three-day show, which closes Tuesday, is 60,000, more than 5% above last year's attendance.
Big trade shows have been under pressure lately as manufacturers and buyers seek less expensive ways to connect. Some companies that have dropped their exhibits from the housewares show attempt to maintain a presence during shows by meeting with customers in hotel rooms.
“Last year with the soft economy, it didn't make sense to exhibit at the show,” said Joel Wasserman, general manager of work space solutions for HoMedics Inc., which exhibited at this year's show. “Things have changed this year. But what we've found is that we need to continue to bring innovation to customers.”
Privately held HoMedics, a Michigan-based manufacturer of health, beauty and relaxation products, recently started manufacturing paper shredders that are being sold under a licensing agreement with power tool company Black & Decker Corp. (BDK). HoMedics this week also introduced a line of portable stereos, iPod docking stations and headphones using the name of the late reggae musician Bob Marley.
Manufacturers continue to struggle against reduced demand for their products caused by a pullback in consumer spending and the collapse of the U.S. residential housing market.
“The premium brand categories definitely feel it,” said Patricia Genovese, a senior manager for regional sales of KitchenAid, a unit of Whirlpool Corp. (WHR). “Consumers want our products, but if they can't afford it, they'll wait.”
KitchenAid bulked up its small-appliance line this year with more models of toasters, countertop ovens and coffee makers and added more color choices for its mixers in hopes of appealing to consumers who are opting for kitchen remodeling instead of buying new homes.
Manufacturers' reported an increase in the number of retail buyers attending this year's housewares show, underscoring the sector's interest in new products.
“Every retailer has representatives here this year,” said Greg Miller, vice president of U.S. sales for Electrolux AB's (ELUX-B.SK, ELUXY) vacuum cleaner and floor care unit. “They're looking for that 'wow' item that's going to sell at a good price and meet the consumers' need.”
Small retailers received more attention than usual this year as manufacturers relaxed some of their order-size requirements to offset reduced order volumes from large retail chains.
Keli DeRitis and Michelle Codd, co-owners of Poggi Bonsi, a specialty kitchenware and gift business, said they met with KitchenAid's representatives about offering the brand in their two stores near Seattle. The pair opened their second store in December in anticipation that retail sales will bounce back in 2010.
“The smaller boutique stores are becoming more important to the big vendors,” said DeRitis.
-By Bob Tita, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-750-4129; email@example.com