CHICAGO -- A record number of buyers made "It Home" here for the 2000 International Housewares Show, Jan. 16 to 19. Preliminary figures put total buyer attendance up 10% over last year, with a 15% increase from international buyers, according to the National Housewares Manufacturers Association, Rosemont, Ill.
Association president and chief operating officer Phil Brandl told SN during the second day of the show that domestic-buyer attendance was up 9%. The NHMA broke an attendance record in 1997 with 15,800 buyers. This year approximately 60,000 people, including 16,000 buyers, ventured to the Windy City's McCormick Place to view a revamped and recategorized trade show that featured some 1,900 exhibitors. The weather in Chicago, always a factor in attendance, was fine for most of the show.
The theme, "Make It Home," was part of the NHMA's branding effort and featured a new look with colorful signage, clever sculptures, fun historical facts and special exhibits. A new show layout reunited Electrics with Home Healthcare categories in the Lakeside Center for greater buyer convenience. "This is a benchmark show," said Brandl. Designed and themed by brand-building consultant Adrienne Weiss, the NHMA's goal in producing this year's show was to give it "a unique and lasting image," said Brandl.
Buyers and exhibitors in general appeared very upbeat and excited by the new colors, designs and items they saw on the floor. "Our members are seeing 4% to 7% dollar increases and this is coming off an exceptional fourth quarter," said Brandl.
That trend is expected to continue. "Our housewares sales have been doing well and we expect this to continue due to new products in the stores, merchandising and the strong economy," said Scott Weaver, director of purchasing at Roundy's General Merchandise Inc., Mazomanie, Wis.
Weaver was attending the show looking for new ideas, particularly in plasticware and food storage as well as other housewares categories. "We also looked at some possible high-end promotions that we could do this year. One of Roundy's objectives is to replace its present food-storage line with one that is faster moving.
The need for greater convenience and products' ease of use, for quality and for offering customer value were recurrent themes reflected on the show floor.
In terms of added convenience, Dan Black, managing buyer for drug and general merchandise at Raley's Supermarkets, West Sacramento, Calif., said he was impressed with new technology from Sunbeam, called Home Linking Technology, that allows electrical appliances to communicate with each other and is tied into the Internet. "That was probably the most interesting thing at the show. It runs all the appliances in your house and will turn them on and off. It seems well suited for supermarkets to add to their appliance mix, if it's not a high-end item," he commented.