Housewares Industry Supports Inspired Home Show Cancellation

The cancellation of The Inspired Home Show was met with strong support by housewares vendors and retailers, who said health and safety considerations far outweighed their disappointment over the cancelled show.

Vendors and retailers told HomeWorld Business they already are working on alternative ways to introduce and learn about new products and marketing programs.

This is what executives contacted by HomeWorld Business had to say:

Bill Endres, founder and president, Select Brands, incoming IHA chairman: “Obviously, everyone involved in the decision at the IHA is totally, totally disappointed, but we can take some solace in the fact that we’ve done the right thing for people; we’ve done the right thing for the health and safety of our membership. We believe there is no better place to show new product to the retail customers than the IHA Show. This will cause us to reboot our strategy, in terms of how we’re going to get the information to the buyers. It will most likely involve more face-to-face meetings with buyers and more travel, depending on how the situation evolves.”

Uri Murad, CEO, Kalorik: “Although we were disappointed to hear of the show’s cancellation, we trust that it was the right decision; health and safety are of the utmost importance and we will always put people’s well-being first. As a proactive response, we are investing in an exciting alternative to present our top innovations of the year to our valued retail partners.”

Jonathan Schaefer, divisional vp/marketing, home and personal care, Spectrum Brands: “We support the IHA, and we believe this was the right decision given the health and safety concerns of the industry. We are obviously very disappointed about not getting the chance to show off our new innovations and merchandise at the show, but we will be actively looking at other ways to share our news with our retail partners. We expect this will entail more travel and more one-on-one meetings with our customers, but we hope to get the word out effectively.”

Tom Klaff, CEO, Revolution Cooking: “We’ll be doing a quick pivot to reach our important audiences quickly and effectively. We’re obviously very disappointed to not have the opportunity to showcase our new R180 toaster at the show, however, we’re looking forward to connecting directly with our prospective and current retailers to share our exciting news as well as what’s in the pipeline.”

Sara de la Hera, vp/sales and marketing, Zavor America: “We believe it was the right move at this time. It is understandable everyone wants to be cautious, retailers and manufacturers alike. And since there are still many unanswered questions about the outbreak in the U.S., it makes sense to play it safe. These days everything is digital, and we are going to take full advantage of the technology at our disposal. We will be doing video calls and ‘virtual walk-throughs’ of our new products. Our sales representative network will be equipped with all the materials they need for their presentations both in person and digitally. We plan on attending summer shows to present new products in person to retailers and will be working diligently with our public relations firm to reach all media outlets as well.”

Steve Greenspon, CEO, Honey Can Do, IHA board member: “Cancelling the Inspired Home Show was the right decision, though it was an incredibly difficult and emotional decision. While discussing and voting as a member of the board of directors of the International Housewares Association… I thought of all of the small housewares brands for whom this is their only opportunity each year to meet with their existing customers and to find new ones. I thought of the small retailers who look forward to the show as their annual chance to meet with their major brands. I thought of the dozens of people who have worked tirelessly over the course of the past year to make the show such an incredible event. I thought of the financial impact to my hometown of Chicago by not hosting nearly 60,000 people from 130 countries and all of the people impacted by the cancellation.”

John Bundy, director, USA Pan: “We really look forward to the Chicago show the most every year. It gives us a chance to brainstorm with many of our current accounts and also meet with new potential clients. We understand the concern and respect the decision of the IHA. Although we missed meeting everyone in person this year, we are prepared to manage our accounts and showcase our new product through other means of communications.”

Bobby Griggs, VP/Heritage Steel and Hammer Stahl: “The cancellation of The Inspired Home show has created an array of thoughts and emotions for me personally and our team. Our immediate reaction was one of sadness because we look forward to spending time with our customers and our contemporaries in the industry. The housewares community really is a small close knit group. Obviously, we also hate to miss the opportunity to share new programs and opportunities with our partners. Ultimately, we trust the IHA and believe that they made the best decision possible to protect the health and safety of each individual and the community as whole. We as a company will make the best of the situation and find ways to overcome the challenges of not having the show this year.”

Curtis Stimson, iTouchless, digital marketing manager: “As a business for which home hygiene is a paramount concern, we understand the International Housewares Association’s board of directors decision to cancel the event given the unique threat Covid-19 presents this year. While we will miss the opportunity to publicly display some new products and have in-person meetings with so many of our contacts from major retailers… throughout the year, we’re in constant communication with our retailer partners.”

Susan Frechette, Wayfair spokesperson: “We were in communication with the IHA throughout the decision-making process. We understand and appreciate the need to take precautions given the circumstances. As we always do, we will continue to regularly engage with our suppliers through in-person meetings throughout the year, regular phone conversations and email communications and special supplier events hosted at Wayfair.”

KC Lapiana, president, HTI Buying Group: “HTI acknowledges the thoughtfulness and attention to the welfare of the housewares community that the board of IHA conducted in their decision to cancel The Inspired Home Show. HTI Buying Group understands the importance that this cancellation has created with the loss of opportunities of not only HTI vendors but all vendors that were ready to participate. In addition, we also realize and acknowledge our duty to the housewares industry, and this cancellation does not have to mean loss in opportunities, sales and face-face presentations. As such, HTI is presenting a Virtual Showcase to help independent housewares retailers who planned to attend the show and those who had decided not to attend.”

Rob Walling, vp/sales, Cangshan Cutlery Company: “Instead of having the face-to-face meetings that we had planned on, we will be ramping up our social media outreach and direct emails to let both our existing customers and potential new ones know about the new items we have for this year. While you cannot replace the ability to look someone in the eyes and create the rapport necessary to make good business partners, email and the phone are still effective, if handled with respect for people’s time. It will be a challenging year, but we are doing our best to minimize any disruptions in our sales forecast for the year by relying on technology to bridge the gap.”

Janis Johnson, president, GC Buying Group: “The GC Team is disappointed that we will miss the opportunity to gather with our members in Chicago at the show. This is a setback for everyone, and we are communicating with vendors to ensure our stores have access to information they would have received at the show. The GC Review Workbook, prepared and usually distributed to our members in Chicago, will be updated and mailed to all members next week. Each vendor has a printed page of information for GC store members. The GC team will continue to create ways for keeping stores and vendors informed.”

Ashley Berry, owner, Someone’s In The Kitchen (store in Rapid City, SD): “Going forward, we will definitely be relying on our reps more than ever. We always appreciate them under normal circumstances, but this atmosphere brings another level of importance to our communication with key reps. I’ve called a few of our really good reps to gain insight into supply forecasts, because we don’t know what will or won’t be available in the coming months We’ll also be relying on communication from vendors directly. Our main focus is to make sure this doesn’t affect our ability to supply our customers with quality kitchen products, so I’ve been asking around to see who is anticipating shortages and for how long. Emailed catalogs and special documents highlighting new products will be more important than ever. We’ll have to rely on Internet and phone communication when deciding what to buy. I think vendors who can send detailed pictures with ongoing communication will be the first to succeed in this new buying environment. We definitely have sympathy for all the vendors who have invested so much in this show. I’m interested to see what kind of creativity comes from this obstacle.”

Karmin Billadeau, owner, Karmin’s Kitchen Table (store in Bismarck, ND): “We are fortunate that we have good relationships with our vendors and sales reps. We have already heard from vendors asking what they can do to help get information to us about new products.”

Dave West, executive chef/owner, Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium (store in Brandon, FL): “We will suffer from not being able to find new vendors and products, and we also will miss the time to interact with other retailers and vendors. We need our reps even more to provide good photos and videos, and they will need samples to show.”