The July 22 issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® features the 20th 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 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.
Kristin Bates-Ashton, Costco, Buyer, Furniture
Over the several decades since its launch, Costco has become a more important force in the furniture category, and, at present, Kristin Bates-Ashton is helping the warehouse club retailer continue providing members with fresh and enticing furnishings.
The Costco furniture business has evolved over the years and conforms to the dynamic of the warehouse club channel. In store, the product selection moves and transforms over the course of the year as Costco emphasizes different products seasonally, with outdoor furnishings featured as the warm-weather months roll around. Then the range of products shifts to indoor furniture for the cool weather months and the holidays.
Whatever the season, buyers have to stay on top of the market given that they have to continually meet the expectations of Costco members who expect genuine treasures as they hunt across the warehouse club’s sales floors as well as an online furnishings selection.
In nominating Bates-Ashton as an Impact Merchant, one vendor called her an amazing partner and a consummate professional, which certainly fits the bill as regards Costco’s needs.
Bates-Ashton told HomeWorld Business that she has been at Costco since 1991 and has been a buyer since 2004.
She said that, in her work for the company, she looks to ensure the basic foundations are in place so the product purchased lives up to member expectations. In a market where consumers are continually more sophisticated when it comes to home fashions, trends weigh in as well.
“Our main focus is quality, and we see that transitional designs are working,” she said. “Some of the trends we followed last year into this year are distressed and painted finishes, industrial details and decorative door details.”
2019 HomeWorld Business Impact Merchants (click on name for profile):