Brad & Karen Hughes, Artichoke, Co-Owners

The July 17 issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® features the 18th annual Impact Merchants special report. Housewares suppliers, representing the categories that HomeWorld covers, once again were asked to nominate buyers and merchandisers believed to have made a significant impact during the past year.

The selection of the 20 Impact Merchant winners is not intended as a definitive list of the best merchants in housewares retailing. Votes went to several more merchandisers than those featured. This year’s honorees represent buyers in given categories that received the majority of votes by vendors polled.

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. 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.

Brad & Karen Hughes, Artichoke, Co-Owners

Since opening Cincinnati, OH-based Artichoke in 2016, Karen and Brad Hughes have quickly made an impact on the gourmet retail community and beyond.

The store’s modern, clean aesthetic and design-fueled approach to merchandising, has earned it accolades in the gourmet retail industry and beyond. It is for this reason and more that several kitchenware vendors nominated the duo as a 2017 Impact Merchant.

The Hughes entered the world of gourmet retail housewares after retiring from the corporate world. Since opening their store, the couple has been credited by vendors with working hard to bring their store’s vision to life.

An important aspect of Artichoke is maintaining a visual appearance that is fresh and unique from other retailers in their region. For example, inventory is kept in the basement of the store, instead of on shelves, said Karen Hughes. This helps the owners maintain its sleek, modern aesthetic that also extends to its branding and marketing efforts.

“There is a serious design aesthetic that we are concerned about as well as a functional standpoint. For example, the cutlery we carry are well designed, work well and display very well. Our store is very colorful and we want what will display that throughout,” she said.

Hughes also explained that they take packaging into consideration when selecting products for Artichoke and make sure it looks good and fits with the store’s brand. The same goes for merchandise displays of which the duo rarely uses from vendors— if at all.

2017 HomeWorld Business Impact Merchants (click on name for profile):