Karen & Brad Hughes, Artichoke

homeworld players hughesThe August 15 edition of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® revealed the 11th Annual “Players,” people to watch in housewares during the next 12 months.

Selected by HomeWorld Business editors, the Players represent a cross section of a diverse housewares business— from established to newly installed company leaders; from large to small operations, from big-box to specialty retailers; from trade show managers to celebrity endorsers.

The HomeWorld Players are in the spotlight not only for how they might impact their respective organizations in the coming months, but also for how they might impact the overall housewares business.

Karen & Brad Hughes, Artichoke, Owners

PLAYER’S CREDENTIALS: As Karen and Brad Hughes were facing retirement, the couple decided that they wanted to do something new with their life. Long-time customers of Findlay Market, Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market, the duo decided to open a gourmet store in order to complement the market’s variety of eateries and produce.

“We’re right on the main walkway between the market and one of the hot new breweries in town, and with the constant flow of traffic going on, and people seeing private parties and events happening in the demo kitchen, it just creates a buzz,” said Karen Hughes.

WHAT TO WATCH: In just four months since its grand opening, Artichoke is booming. The Hughes, who had no prior retail or housewares experience, have quickly become gourmet business owners to emulate when it comes to branding, marketing, customer service and more.

After celebrating its official opening in April 2016, Artichoke was named to Food Network’s list of top kitchenwares stores in the U.S. The format followed by the Hughes puts an emphasis on design and style. The team keeps stock and excess housewares in the basement of the store, instead of on shelves, in order to maintain its sleek, modern aesthetic. Additionally, Artichoke offers cooking classes and product demonstrations in collaboration with local chefs, mixologists, vendor representatives as well as themselves and their staff members.

PERSPECTIVE: “What we have found is that you can’t just sit back and keep riding the same thing. You have to have the basics but then you have to grab onto these new housewares too because consumers are really interested in new innovations. We have people who come in and say, ‘You can’t sell me any new cookware, I have everything.’ But then I say, ‘I wonder if you have this?’ And all of a sudden they’re walking out with a new high carbon pan. If we just had the same products all the time, we wouldn’t be able to do that,” said Brad Hughes.

2017 HomeWorld Business Players (click on name for profile):