Gourmet Catalog Starts The Year in Atlanta

Le Creuset displays its wares during the Showcase. lecreuset.com

Le Creuset displays its wares during the Showcase. lecreuset.com

Gourmet Catalog kicked off its 10th annual Gourmet Catalog Start the Year Member Conference and Vendor Showcase during the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Show last month to what it called good reviews.

“Our vendor members raved about the positivity and interest they received from our store members at the event,” said Janis Johnson, president and founder of Gourmet Catalog. “There are no other events such as the Start the Year event where independent retailers can interface and connect with company principals to receive face-to-face support, new line introductions, and product demonstrations.”

More than 200 vendors attended the full-day event, according to Gourmet Catalog, utilizing the showcase to educate members on upcoming and top-selling products.

“This event is the only place you can get more than 200 vendors in a room that will take the time to show you what their products can do,” said David Freeman, owner of Kitchenware Outfitters in Savannah, Ga., in a statement released by Gourmet Catalog. Susan Green, owner of Birmingham Bake & Cook, Co. in Birmingham, Ala., agreed with Freeman.  “It is nice to have so many companies here that treat us like we treat our customers.”

The exclusive member showcase—a private tradeshow for Gourmet Catalog & Buying Group members—allowed Gourmet Catalog store members to see products and communicate their specific needs to vendors.

“I enjoy this part of the gourmet independent business because I’m able to rekindle relationships with stores,” said Rob Curran, a regional sales manager for Polder, in the statement. “You think someone has forgotten about you, but they come by your table and let you know how much they sell and love your product and order more, and you think “Wow, this is great!” Talking with stores and revisiting those relationships is such a great part of this event.”

The two-day, members-only Start the Year Conference focuses on networking, product introductions, sales demonstrations and learning opportunities for members. It also included a speech from veteran retailer Bob Negen of Whizbang! Training, who discussed key sales techniques, ways to grow business, promotional ideas, loyalty program utilization and more.

“Bob’s speech was reassuring and was exactly what I needed to hear right now for the growth I’m experiencing,” said Terese Miller, owner of Bella Kitchen and Home in Gig Harbor, Wash.

The Gourmet Catalog group added more than 50 new independent retail store locations in 2012. “The growth within our community of stores and vendors is truly wonderful,” Johnson said. “The buying power we gain by bringing new members to the group and the support we receive from our wonderful vendors is a humbling experience for me.”