Pfaltzgraff Forges Ahead

Yorktowne, which launched in 1967, is being reintroduced as a 32-piece set.

Yorktowne, which launched in 1967, is being reintroduced as a 32-piece set.

By Allison Zisko

Pfaltzgraff will celebrate its 200th anniversary this year with a wide range of new products and promotions that reflect its rich history as well as its thorough understanding of the modern marketplace.

The company was founded in York, Penn., in 1811 and was known for its salt-glazed stoneware and handpainted designs. It continues to take pride in its ability to foresee and adapt to major shifts in consumer buying habits. For example, in the late 1970s it expanded into department stores with an aggressive bridal program that included accessory-laden collections. This was a new concept for the housewares department at the time, and it was a means of differentiation for the brand, noted Gwen Opfell, vice president, chief marketing officer of Lifetime Brands, which purchased Pfaltzgraff in 2005. The Pfaltzgraff brand today is an upstairs, bridal-driven, place-setting business featuring mostly handpainted designs and complementary accessories. Some of its best-selling patterns include Winterberry, Yorktowne and Naturewood.

Three years ago Lifetime Brands launched the Pfaltzgraff Everyday brand, a promotionally priced, set-driven business marked by simpler handpainted looks and reactive glazes. The lower-priced division was created to appeal to a wider range of consumers, and enabled the brand to expand into additional retail channels beyond department stores, according to Opfell. “We cover a broader range of consumers that way,” she said.

This two-pronged strategy allows Pfaltzgraff to retain its popularity among older consumers who are longtime fans of the brand as well as attract younger ones. The typical Pfaltzgraff consumer, Opfell said, tends to have more traditional tastes, and this includes both young and old shoppers.

To celebrate its 200th anniversary, Pfaltzgraff is bringing back two popular patterns—Heritage and Yorktowne—in 32-piece sets, which  will be available at retail stores nationwide this spring. Heritage, first introduced in 1963, offers traditional styling in classic white stoneware. Yorktowne, first introduced in 1967, features a deep blue floral motif to the smooth glaze that is reminiscent of the early salt-glaze technique. The company will also offer a few limited pieces and will likely hold raffles or drawings on its website to give away select Pfaltzgraff items.

At the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago this month, Pfaltzgraff will also launch several new patterns, including Painterly Bouquet (a vintage-inspired floral in blue, red, yellow and gray on a neutral background) and Poppy Meadow (a dramatic showing of oversized florals in vibrant hues). Pfaltzgraff Everyday will introduce Nile, a geometric design with a handpainted reactive glaze finish on stoneware.