Chris Kutil, Bon-Ton, Electrics Buyer

The July 18 issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® features the 17th 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 18 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.

Chris Kutil, Bon-Ton, Electrics Buyer

Chris Kutil is a bit of an anomaly within the retail buying world. While many merchants shift from job-to-job or retailer-to-retailer over their career, Kutil has been a fixture at The Bon-Ton for more than 30 years. Today, he continues to have oversight of the department store chain’s small electrics assortment, and his love of retailing is as strong as ever.

“Retailing is in my blood,” he said. “On a daily basis I get to run a business and get the thrill of turning on my computer to see what is selling.”

During his tenure at The Bon-Ton, Kutil has seen numerous high-profile appliances come and go, and changes in how consumers purchase items.

“There have been so many changes,” he said. “I saw the start of the George Foreman grill, the Cuisinart food processor, single-serve coffee, the power of As Seen on TV and now the web and growth of omnichannel retailing.”

For many retailers, the shift of consumer dollars to e-commerce has been a challenge. Kutil said he and his team continue working to further evolve The Bon-Ton’s online presence and knows that more changes are ahead.

“It is really exciting and something that we continue to improve,” he said. “I’m learning a great deal from my vendors and I also have a staff of very talented people to work with.”

Kutil said helping him navigate through these many changes is his steadfast commitment to The Bon-Ton mission of striving to be the best hometown department store.

“It has also been our goal to bring our customers the best assortment of products,” he said. “We also work with a great visual team that ensures the shopping experience is the same in our larger stores and our smaller stores.”

2016 HomeWorld Business Impact Merchants (click on name for profile):