Voters were asked to give added weight to merchandising creativity, trend and marketing astuteness, attention to detail, openness to risk, flexibility, relationship building and the ability to deliver a profitable program for both the vendors and retailer while providing value to consumers.
You’ll see buyers from retail channels that aren’t typically in the spotlight.
You’ll also see repeat winners. These are merchants whose dedication, innovation and productive track records are difficult to ignore.
One thing this year’s Impact Merchants share is a vote of respect by their vendors. In today’s unpredictable retail environment, that vote really counts.
Quatromoni Stays On Pulse Of Consumer To Deliver Value For HomeGoods Tabletop
Kirsten Quatromoni, buyer for HomeGoods, has been with the retailer for 23 years, and buying for the tabletop category for the past nine. Her extensive experience has translated into “gut instincts” and informs much of her buying decisions within the ever-evolving category, she told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®.
“When I work with my vendors, I go by my gut and my history in the tabletop market as to what I feel the customer is going to vote for. It’s very gut driven knowing whether something is going to work,” she said.
Vendors touted Quatromoni’s vision on trends, sense for the new and different and her taste, which allows her to make the best selections. It is this vision and commitment that has led to her recognition as a 2018 Impact Merchant. In the time that Quatromoni has been with HomeGoods, the retailer has grown from 21 stores to more than 700.
“I feel like I have a pulse on what our customer wants, but at the end of the day it’s all about value. My relationships I have with my vendors are very important to me. It has to be a two way street. They really work with me to get me to where I need to be from a cost standpoint,” she said.
One vendor noted that Quatromoni is straightforward and simple in her process. “She will never make you wait for an answer, or change her word. If she fights a price it’s because she will make that item successful,” said one vendor.
According to Quatromoni, her greatest reward is all in the end result. “I love seeing what I buy sell, and then being able to go back to the supplier with that knowledge in my head to expand upon that look or feel or design or material. That’s the most rewarding, finding something that resonates with the customer.”
Wilburn Builds Successful Growth Path For Housewares At Home Depot
Online Merchant, Housewares and Small Electrics
Robert Wilburn’s route to The Home Depot was an interesting path. An aerospace engineer by trade, he joined the home improvement retailer seven years ago after the manufacturing company he was working for left Georgia for Arizona.
“When the company I was with asked me to move, I tried it out, but quickly realized I needed to stay in Atlanta due to the life stage I was in,” Wilburn, a 2018 Impact Merchant, told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®. “I had several friends that worked for Home Depot, and I knew that it would be a phenomenal place to take my career in a new direction.”
Since joining the retailer in 2012, Wilburn has worked in several areas of the company including store operations, property management, and online merchandise planning. In 2016, he moved into merchandising as an associate merchant charged with building out Home Depot’s housewares selection online. Recently, he was promoted to the title of merchant as Home Depot continues to expand rapidly in this space.
Wilburn noted the excitement of the category is building an assortment that matches Home Depot’s vast reach.
“In this category, we have to make sure we have the right brands and products for our customers that match the life stage they are in,” he said. “We have customer groups that start with us during their first apartment move, when they buy their first house, and when they build their dream kitchen. My goal is to have an assortment that serves all of those consumer groups under the same roof with the quality, value, and service they expect from us.”
On a daily basis, Wilburn says his favorite thing is working with his vendors and talented peer group at Home Depot to bring those product experiences to life for the customer. —Greg Sleter
Weiland Hailed As Savvy, Nimble Seasonal Home Environment Merchant
HVAC and Seasonal Buyer
Menards, leveraging its do-it-yourself home improvement resources, has made its dedication to housewares evident over the years, merchandising seasonal and year-round displays within housewares categories such as home environment. Across its multiple assortments, shoppers can find national brands, unbranded and private label products in stores.
Within the home environment category, the retailer stocks heaters, fans, air conditioners, air purifiers and dehumidifiers both in-store and online. Unpredictable forces such as changing weather patterns and consumer shopping preferences, however, often dictate the success of the home environment category. Vendors noted that it’s up to savvy and nimble retail buyers to weather the storm and predict successful assortments for the coming year.
Dan Weiland has been hailed by vendors within the home environment category as one of those buyers, bringing success and growth to the category at Menards. Weiland holds the position of HVAC and seasonal buyer at Menards. It is this dedication that has led Weiland to be recognized as a HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® 2018 Impact Merchant.
Vendors noted that within a housewares category that is not “one size fits all,” it is imperative for home environment buyers to be diligent in their research.
“He is an advocate for his customer and will do his best to find the right products for them,” one vendor noted.
In addition, vendors said asking tough questions that yield the necessary information is a key benefit of working with Weiland, and allows him to find the best products so his customers benefit.
Generating Furniture Sales, Trend Expertise Give Etheridge An Edge At Conn’s
The nomination of Conn’s HomePlus buyer Chris Etheridge as an Impact Merchant is based on his experience, savvy and ability to generate sales.
Conn’s operates as a specialty retailer, running 118 locations in the U.S. across most of the southern region. Furniture and related accessories for the living room, dining room and bedroom are a critical core operation with traditional and specialty mattresses a critical adjunct. Rounding out the Conn’s product lineup are home appliances ranging from refrigerators and freezers to ranges, to washers and dryers, consumer electronics, such as televisions, home office products including computers, printers and accessories, and seasonal items.
Given the nature of the business, Etheridge is in a critical position. Recent evidence suggests that the team behind the furniture operation at Conn’s is performing well.
In the first quarter, ended April 30, Conn’s total sales slipped slightly from the quarter the year before. If other categories declined, however, the furniture, mattress and home office categories increased sales.
Conn’s appointed Etheridge senior buyer, upholstery, in November of 2014. Before that, he was named senior case goods buyer for Conn’s in 2011 and held that title until 2015.
A vendor commenting on Etheridge’s performance noted that he is an astute and experienced merchant who is aware of trends and how those trends translate when it comes to Conn’s customers and their preferences. The vendor also noted that Etheridge is analytical as he considers assortments and understands how to build profitability, which certainly qualifies him as an Impact Merchant.
Wayfair’s Lubelczyk Wins High Marks For Vendor Partnerships
Senior Category Associate
Kevin Lubelczyk has shown a “keen awareness of the online retail marketplace,” according to vendors, even in his short time in the housewares and retailing industries. This is just one of the reasons he has been named a HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® 2018 Impact Merchant.
After attending Maine-based Bates College and studying economics, Lubelczyk joined the Wayfair team. In 2016, he held the post of category associate and was promoted in 2018 to senior category associate.
According to vendors, Lubelczyk has shown the desire to be a partner for them. He embraces relationships with vendors, with one noting that he is, “friendly, easy to work with and always available.”
In addition, he fosters a collaborative environment between Wayfair and manufacturers, according to suppliers. He hosts routine collaborative check-ins to ensure alignment on all new Wayfair programs and upcoming promotions; trending categories; trends on bundle kits; new products; and exclusive product offering opportunities. He also is open with manufacturers about how they can expand their assortment with the online retailer with unique bundles and he is willing to take a chance on new cookware and bakeware as well.
Lubelczyk’s tactics, said vendors, fit well within Wayfair’s new initiative that was recently reported on by HomeWorld Business. The company is looking to develop a stronger position in the housewares industry, as shown by its presence at the 2018 International Home + Housewares Show, and will be looking for ways to enhance their position while staying consistent with the e-tailer’s larger strategic thinking.
Ellis Leverages Broad Skill Set To Manage Housewares Merchandising For Kroger
The first step Cory Ellis took into the world of retailing was a decade ago as he joined Kroger’s Fred Meyer division in 2009 as an assistant buyer in housewares. In the years that followed, he has worked his way up the merchandising team ranks at Fred Meyer and Kroger, and today holds the title of DMM for housewares, seasonal and storage for Kroger.
As a HomeWorld Business 2018 Impact Merchant, as nominated by vendors in the housewares industry, product suppliers laud Ellis for his broad skill set that includes merchandising, merchandise planning and inventory management that have allowed him to build a successful career at Kroger.
After spending two years in the assistant buyer/housewares position, Ellis was named assistant planner for seasonal and storage at Fred Meyer, a job he held for nine months. He was then named planner for Fred Meyer where he managed the open-to-buy and store allocations within the retailer’s Garden Center.
A year later, Ellis was promoted to DMM planning for home electronics at Fred Meyer and was then named DMM planning for Kroger’s home fashion and electronics departments. In the latter position, he had oversight of the planning department for several categories including housewares, domestics, décor, furniture season and electronics.
In May of 2015, Ellis was named to his current position as DMM, housewares, storage and seasonal. He oversees categories that offer shoppers a host of national brands that are mixed with proprietary brands, including Dash of That in housewares and HD Designs in home furnishings.
Kimbriel Supports Business Relationships To Guide Winning Merchandising Strategies
Kitchen and Food Storage Buyer
As a buyer at The Container Store for nearly 20 years, Kim Kimbriel has certainly seen her share of change in the housewares and retail industry. However, it is her steadfast commitment to her business relationships and guidance in the wake of change that has made her a HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® 2018 Impact Merchant.
According to kitchenware and organization vendors, longstanding successful partnerships with Kimbriel are fueled by her established experience and willingness to work together collaboratively.
One vendor noted that in a time of SKU rationalization and changes within The Container Store’s merchandising strategies, Kimbriel has worked hard to ensure brand positioning stays top of mind. In the past year, Kimbriel has changed how The Container Store typically operates and has been willing to take significant risks with expanding a brand’s assortment and how they go to market, one vendor said.
“This has resulted in The Container Store launching our items earlier, even, at times, before the rest of the marketplace, and adding a significant number of items to their assortment for an even more robust catalog,” said one vendor.
In addition, Kimbriel is also open to new ideas, campaigns and innovations that bring attention to housewares brands both in-store and online, which can be considered one of the key factors in The Container Store’s success as of late. The store recently unveiled its new flagship in Dallas that it has deemed its next generation store, a concept the retailer is testing that features technology to allow customers to integrate its in-store and online presence, as a way to bridge the gap between both sides of its retail business.
Nadel Produces Success At Bed Bath With Eye On Quality, Openness To New Ideas
Buyer, Cookware, Cutlery and Tea Kettles
A buyer who understands the art of merchandising, Bill Nadel has been named a HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® 2018 Impact Merchant.
Nadel has been charged with buying for the cookware, cutlery and tea kettle segments of Bed Bath & Beyond’s business for more than four years. Before that, he spent more than three years at Ross Stores as a buyer in the kitchen electrics, cutlery, beverage, food storage and seasonal housewares division. Additionally, he has held buyer positions at Macy’s, Linens ‘n’ Things and Kohl’s during his career, most of them in various divisions of the housewares segment.
According to vendors, Nadel has acted as a partner when it comes to selecting assortments. He pays close attention to materials, finishes and global impact. Additionally, Nadel keeps his eye on quality, understanding that not all products are created equally. He helps manufacturers develop and create merchandising that speaks to the consumer and explains the benefits of the goods at hand. However, he is able to accomplish this all without having to sacrifice the good, better, best assortment that Bed Bath & Beyond has been known for.
Vendors also noted that one of Nadel’s strong points is his decisiveness. He is “extremely productive and always open to new ideas,” said one supplier, while another explained that he is usually quick to return to a company with a decision or feedback about a product. This, said vendors, helps everyone in the supply chain.
Vendors Praise Walmart’s Blake For Housewares Industry Dedication, Positive Outlook
Senior Buyer, Gadgets & Cutlery
With a reputation as a well-organized, detail-oriented buyer with a positive attitude, Becky Blake of Walmart has been recognized by kitchenware vendors as a 2018 Impact Merchant.
Blake is a senior buyer for the gadgets and cutlery division of Walmart. Those that have worked with her have also commented that her upbeat personality is contagious and that she is always well prepared, two traits that are necessary in today’s fragmented and competitive housewares industry.
Blake has been a buyer with Walmart since May of 2014. Prior to her time there, Blake has held various positions including buyer and planner at J.C. Penney, Aaron Brothers and Neiman Marcus.
Her dedication to the housewares industry was praised by vendors. One vendor said, “Becky’s forward thinking has transformed housewares at Walmart to offer consumers hot trends in the kitchen and home. She knows the Walmart customer well and works hard to continue to give them the brands and products they desire for their homes.”
That dedication is in line with Walmart’s commitment to its shopper, a commitment that goes back to founder Sam Walton’s desire to offer consumers lower prices and great service. The company, despite its recent efforts to transition into an omnichannel retailer, still believes strongly in the in-store experience, something Blake also brings with her dedication to bringing the consumer the latest solutions the kitchenware industry has to offer.
Cook Shines While Keeping Ulta Beauty’s Growing Assortment On Trend
As some brick-and-mortar retailers have struggled to grow in the face of a changing retail landscape, Ulta Beauty has experienced exponential growth in recent years. It is the retailer’s multi-pronged omnichannel approach to business that has supported growth, including its product assortment, the in-store experience, e-commerce and its robust customer loyalty program.
The retailer’s broad product assortment has also reached outside demographics typically targeted by specialty beauty retailers, vendors noted, and allows the retailer to reach a broader customer base ranging from Millennials to those over the age of 50.
As the retailer continues to grow its product assortments within the personal care and beauty categories, vendors have lauded Ashlee Cook, brand manager, Ulta Beauty Collection, as a key buyer for the category.
“Ashlee looks ahead for the next innovation to keep the assortment on trend and appealing to the consumer,” said one vendor.
It is this attention to detail that has led to Cook’s recognition as a HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® 2018 Impact Merchant.
Vendors also praised Cook’s great sense of style and attention to detail, assuring that a completed product and overall assortment has a prestige look designed to monetize consumer spending. In addition, vendors praised Cook’s exceptional communication as a key differentiator within the category. “This streamlines the product development process to keep projects on schedule and without errors,” said one vendor.
Desire To Learn Puts A Charge Into Neuman’s Electrics Merchandising For Kohl’s
Senior Omnichannel Buyer, Kitchen Appliances
Amy Neuman is no stranger to Kohl’s. Since joining the retailer in 2001, she has been a part of the merchandising teams in a host of product categories that include adult and children’s apparel, toys, electronics and now housewares.
In May of 2017, Neuman was named to her current position as senior omnichannel buyer for kitchen appliances. During that time, product suppliers say she has worked hard to gain expertise in a category that with its diverse assortment of appliances can be challenging to learn. That fact, among others, is why Neuman is a HomeWorld 2018 Impact Merchant.
Her efforts in the small electrics segment over the past year-plus are seen in store as Kohl’s appliance selection offers a mix of hot products and everyday items.
Toward the front of the kitchen electrics section of Kohl’s housewares department, top selling products such as air fryers and multi-cookers are positioned in an effort to highlight the hot sellers in the category. Adjacent to those electrics are collections from brands including KitchenAid and Cuisinart that are presented along the store’s main aisle.
Coffee also continues to enjoy a significant presence in the department as a variety of units are positioned along the back wall, which serves to catch the eye of shoppers as they peruse the store.
To give its customers a broader selection of kitchen electrics from which to choose, Kohl’s uses its e-commerce outlet to carry higher-priced, gourmet-style products such as high-end food prep appliances and coffeemakers.
Open Vision, Understanding Macy’s Customer Drive Wolpert’s Sales Success
According to housewares industry vendors, Michael Wolpert’s understanding of the Macy’s customer has helped to name him a HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® 2018 Impact Merchant.
With Macy’s for more than 10 years after joining the company in June 2008, Wolpert worked his way from a buying trainee to a buyer in men’s clothing. He made his way up the ladder and was charged with buying for men’s furnishings and sleepwear, men’s accessories and gifts, men’s active and Levi’s, but settled into the cookware buyer position in May 2016.
Wolpert, said a vendor, is a “smart, talented negotiator who understands the Macy’s customer and develops the products and programs which have helped drive successful sales in his current role.”
Vendors noted that cookware has been thriving at Macy’s recently, and many credit Wolpert’s decisions on product assortment as one of the major reasons the category is seeing success at the department store. In addition, he is said to provide clear communication on what product, pricepoints and programs he is looking to develop for the store’s customer base.
“He has very transparent communication and an open vision,” said one housewares manufacturer. “He is also constantly looking to continue innovating new products based on trends, but also reinventing successful past programs that can bring additional products to the customer and drive incremental business.”
Jacob’s Experienced Approach To Housewares Keeps Treasure Hunt Fresh At HomeGoods
In an era when retailers are relying more on metrics and less on the experience and savvy of their merchandising teams, HomeGoods’ Harry Jacobs continues to enjoy success by using his knowledge of the housewares industry to meet the needs of his customers.
For the second consecutive year, housewares suppliers nominated Jacobs as a HomeWorld Impact Merchant. Perhaps fittingly, Jacobs’ “old-school” approach to retailing is one that is not only lauded by vendors, but a style that also fits HomeGoods as the retailer focuses its selling efforts on brick-and-mortar stores.
Jacobs, who joined TJX in 1992 after a 20-year career with Jordan Marsh, brings a wealth of experience to each meeting with his product suppliers. Those same suppliers also talk about his continual push to learn and understand the features and benefits of new products.
In recent years, HomeGoods along with its sister brands Marshalls and TJ Maxx, have each played vital roles in the overall success of parent company TJX. While other retailers have been challenged by the growth of online retailers and more consumers shopping for home products online, HomeGoods has kept customers coming through its doors by offering an assortment of brand-name products at aggressive pricepoints.
In addition, the treasure hunt feel of the store and continual flow of new merchandise also serves to keep shoppers coming back to the store to look for products they need while also impulsively buying new housewares and furnishings for their home.
Jackson Keeps At Home Furniture On Trend With Vendor Collaboration A Key Factor
When she started work as a merchandising coordinator for At Home 11 years ago, LaToya Jackson knew where she wanted to go. Jackson told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® that she had a five-year plan she realized a few months short of the deadline when At Home appointed her furniture buyer.
According to a vendor who works with her, reaching her goal was all to the good as he identified Jackson as a diligent buyer who follows up on the promises she makes and shoots straight with suppliers, while, at the same time, keeping a keen eye on industry trends. By following up on her suggestions, the vendor and At Home have been able to collaborate on dozens of new SKUs that have landed at stores as exclusive items for the retailer. Sell throughs on those items, the vendor stated, are near the top in their product segments, a consequence of the collaborative effort between the supplier and At Home.
Collaboration is an important factor in the market. Jackson said that the push to become faster to market is a critical factor in the current marketplace and one that At Home is emphasizing as fashion developments translate into the home furnishings market more quickly than they did in the past. At the same time, she remains focused on the value proposition At Home offers while simultaneously recognizing the eclectic nature of home fashion today. Given the circumstances, developing product assortments requires diversity of style at sharp prices. Delivery on those critical points, Jackson said, is key to serving the At Home customer.
“It’s always a collaborative effort,” she said.
Todorovic Engages Storage Vendors To Focus On Customer, Improve Shopping Experience
Senior Buyer, Storage and Organization
Similar to other housewares categories, storage and organization is transforming into a broader lifestyle category, one focused on bringing consumers a complete solution, based on how they live. It has become important for buyers in this category to stay abreast of trends and keep an open mind when working with vendors.
For these reasons, Zoran Todorovic, senior buyer, storage and organization at Walmart, has been selected as a 2018 Impact Merchant. Vendors have recognized Todorovic for his thoughtful, engaged approach to vendor relationships and the changing needs of the category.
“Todorovic has a good understanding of the market and works tirelessly to stay in tune with shifting variables, trends and behaviors. He has a laser-like focus on the customer and wants to delight the customer with an improved shopping experience,” said one vendor.
A pleasant, successful shopping experience is top of mind for retailers more than ever, especially in the wake of the popularity of e-commerce. A buyer’s relationship with suppliers is key to bringing that experience to life both in-store and online, and vendors recognized Todorovic for his omnichannel efforts in that regard.
“He asks good questions and listens. He puts forth a great effort to learn and understand from others with experience and always treats suppliers as partners and wants to create business relationships that deliver value for both parties,” said one vendor.
In addition, suppliers noted, Todorovic follows through on the commitments he makes and will not agree to a program unless he is confident that he can meet expectations for both the vendor and the retailer.
Business Acumen Strengthens Hufford’s Gourmet E-Commerce Expansion
Founded in 1991 as a coffee and tea shop by Joe and Wren Hufford, J.L. Hufford has since emerged as an emporium of gourmet kitchenware, ranging from cookware, kitchen tools and gadgets, gourmet foods and, of course, coffee and tea.
Vendors recognized Hufford’s business acumen, first taking the plunge in 2002, expanding his brick-and-mortar shop into an e-commerce business that included a few high-end coffeemaker brands. The store also has found success with an Amazon shop. Hufford further tested the waters and brought in additional gourmet housewares categories beyond coffee and tea.
“Once we expanded, we found a niche with higher-end coffeemakers, such as Jura. We noticed that if our customers are willing to spend thousands of dollars on a high-end coffeemaker for their home, they may also be willing to jump into high-end cookware,” said Hufford. Following his instinct, Hufford brought in brands such as Le Creuset, Mauviel and Swiss Diamond.
One vendor said, “Joe is an aggressive, out-of-the box marketer. He is dedicated to finding the right products that he can position in a unique, distinctive way. He also works hard to find the right team members and gives them the opportunity to have a voice and succeed. He is very committed to the growth and development of his own website.”
Another vendor noted that Hufford continues to look ahead in all aspects of business, including what technology can bring: “Joe is aggressively seeking ways to incorporate personal experience multimedia into his social media and marketing. He wants his audience to see the products in action and know what they can create with the products he is focusing on.” —Lauren DeBellis
Aluce Thinks Outside The Box To Grow Kohl’s Tabletop Merchandising Opportunities
Recently, Kohl’s has tested a number of new initiatives in order to drive traffic in-store and online. The tabletop category enjoys a significant amount of floor space to merchandise those programs.
In-store, the retailer focuses on dinnerware and glassware, and while its proprietary Food Network brand dominates in-store, its e-commerce assortment includes a wider array of brands.
Vendors have lauded the retailer for “thinking outside the box” when it comes to on-boarding new trends and styles evolving within the category, and much of that forward thinking rests on the shoulders of its buyers.
Brittany Aluce, tabletop buyer at Kohl’s, has been touted by vendors as
a “subject matter expert in her category who is constantly seeking to learn and explore areas of opportunities to drive growth.”
“Brittany thinks outside of the box, is a collaborative partner and works together to solve challenges and create opportunities,” said one vendor. “She is not afraid to test and try something new, yet always provides metrics and parameters to gauge success.”
Vendors also noted that Aluce approaches her position with communication in mind, acting with a sense of urgency in all areas and responding quickly, while also expecting the same of her vendor partners.
Vendors also noted the importance of working as a team, and commended Aluce’s ability to work within the Kohl’s team infrastructure successfully. “At Kohl’s, the planning teams are tied at the hip with the buyer, and Brittany is fortunate to have a very strong team. She leads the team with a ‘win as one’ approach,” said one vendor.
McPartland Drives Business While Navigating In Fast-Paced Evolving E-Commerce World
When she set her sights on a career, Allison McPartland chose retail, and a good thing, too, given the evidence. Take it from a vendor who works with her, who characterized McPartland as “amazing,” going on to say she is energetic, enthusiastic, honorable and a pleasure to work with. She keeps her eyes on the ball, driving business and offering ideas about building business collaboratively.
McPartland told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® that she pursued a degree in retail management, then started her career with TJX in its buying program. In joining Wayfair, McPartland said she hoped to expand her retail management experience in a fast-paced, technology-driven e-commerce operation. She kicked off her Wayfair tenure as an exclusive brands team buyer, transitioning to the category manager team where she now leads the portable lighting business.
In today’s market, McPartland said, she observes consumers who “believe that their home is not only a reflection of their style, but also themselves. Given their desire to browse and be inspired, merchandising by style and price allows us the opportunity to personalize their offering. Wayfair interacts with our customers by not only offering inspirational content, but also by providing design tools, which empowers our customers to curate and design their own space.”
McPartland has fulfilled her desire to advance with rapidly evolving technology. “The combination of integrating technology in the shopping experience and offering convenience to the consumer are critical developments driving the market today. Consumer behavior has changed as Millennials are entering the market. They have a high level of comfort with technology and purchasing furniture online, while also wanting fast delivery,” she said. —Mike Duff
Gridley Brings Veteran Experience To Building Housewares Assortments
The longevity of Chris Gridley and his extensive knowledge base is what vendors pointed to when speaking about his expertise as a merchant and his positive impact on the housewares business. This garnered Gridley several nominations, ultimately naming him a HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® 2018 Impact Merchant.
Gridley began his business experience as a buyer for DXL casual male retail group in 1999. After four years there, he joined Ross Stores as a buyer and has been there since. He is currently a vp/dmm at DD’s Discounts, a division of Ross Stores. He is currently charged with buying for the housewares, personal care, fitness, food and electronics categories.
According to one housewares vendor, Gridley, “has always been a tough, but fair negotiator, often taking chances on products and ideas to further innovate his categories in the home department. He is very much a product person, understanding the full details of manufacturing and specifications, which truly helps when you understand costing and how to build a product up or down.”