By Andrea Lillo
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.–Industry executives embraced the news that the Gourmet Housewares Show will return to its birthplace of San Francisco in 2009 after four years away.
That wasn’t the only change for the show as it will jump ahead several months from May to August, to run concurrently with the San Francisco International Gift Fair, both of which are run by GLM. The new timing provides extra breathing room between the Gourmet Housewares Show and the International Home & Housewares Show, which moved to March from January several years ago.
“I think a drastic change will be welcomed by all,” said Todd Myers, vice president of sales at Wusthof-Trident of America. “By having the two major shows close to each other, we were seeing the same customers and not providing anything new and fresh.”
“Moving the Gourmet Show back to San Francisco, one of the greatest food cities in the U.S., will enable a larger group of boutique and specialty retailers to attend,” said Mary Rodgers, director of marketing communications for Cuisinart. “The August time frame is important for them as their buying decisions are on a shorter planning cycle than larger-size retailers. Many of them are making final purchase decisions in late summer for those introductions that come in the back half.”
And retailers were also pleased. “It will be a nice follow-up to the Chicago Housewares Show,” said Alexandra Mack, director of merchandising at cooking.com. It allows “vendors to create excitement around their fall launches and develop plans for the year to come,” she said.
The new timing will also give both retailers and manufacturers an opportunity to tweak their strategies.
“The current schedule of shows that we attend is all very much front-loaded in the first half of the year,” said Adam Marland, vice president of kitchen and household for HSN. “A Gourmet Show in August would help to balance out the year, enable us to affect fall programming because of the quick nature of our business and allow for us to plan out spring strategies.”
Myers said that by staggering the shows, “We will be better prepared to talk about what worked the first half and be more productive about implementing the conceptual marketing and product ideas discussed and shared in Chicago,” Myers said. “August becomes a bit late for the majors to change any marketing strategies for [the fourth quarter], but the nimble independents can implement ideas and products in about three seconds.”
He added, however, “I still think August is good for majors as they will be deciding winter and spring 2010 at that time. And the location is better.”
Gibson has attended the Gourmet Show for the past two years but was about to drop the show until the change in timing and location was announced, said Sal Gabbay, president. “We feel it has a better future now,” he said. “The August timing is actually quite good.” An August show will provide “lucky” fourth-quarter business and a good springboard for the following spring, he said.
Some vendors are taking a wait-and-see approach. “You have to look at it two different ways,” said Allan Wolk, president of Swiss Diamond USA. “As an August show, I’m not crazy about the timing,” as retailers have already set their fall plans, he said. “I would love to see it sooner.” However, “Everyone wants to go back to San Francisco. It will be a great regional, West Coast show.”
The Gourmet Housewares Show first launched in San Francisco in 1977. Its 2009 show is scheduled for Aug. 8 to 10 at the Moscone Convention Center. — Allison Zisko and David Gill contributed to this report.