Sean Austin is a first time honoree of the HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® Impact Merchant awards. After attending Macy’s Executive Training Program in 1997, Austin joined the venerable department store chain as a gift housewares buyer before changing responsibilities to encompass cookware and gadgets. He earned a solid reputation while at Macy’s as a “student of the business,” one of the highest compliments vendors traditionally pay to their retail buying office counterparts. Vendors describe Austin, who left Macy’s to join Linens ‘n Things last year, as serious and hard working, someone who does his homework and understands his customer. At Linens ‘n Things Austin inherited a cookware program already acknowledged as one of the most comprehensive in the industry. In his short time there he has already earned a reputation among vendors as a solid, creative merchant who’s not afraid to try new things. “The vendors continue to do a great job of bringing newness to the market,” said Austin. “The biggest challenge for us is freeing up enough space to make that newness look important.” Austin acknowledged his openness to new ideas and innovative new products and stressed the importance of building partnerships with the vendor community. “If one of my partners comes to me with an idea they feel strongly about, I want to support them if we are able,” he said. In his time in the business Austin has seen the recent rise in the popularity of stainless steel cookware, a proliferation of tri-ply offerings and the development of new handle and coatings technologies. Asked to describe his perfect cookware set, Austin said, “Wait and you’ll see.” The industry is waiting to see what exciting new things this up and coming young buyer will bring to the table.