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Searching for the Next Hula Hoop

I tracked down Joe Kirby, vice president category management, Imperial Distributors, Auburn, Mass., to ask him about his impression of the housewares show on the second day of the show’s run.

“There’s a lot of color out there,” he said when asked about trends.

But when it comes to any new major concepts in housewares, he had yet to spot the next hula hoop. And, as we all know, such hot selling inventions are few and far between.

“It’s almost like people reigned in their R&D budgets with the economy being tight. I see a lot of line extensions and niche items that I think would be good sellers, but I am not seeing the next hula hoop.”

Imperial Distributors serves chain and independent supermarket retailers throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

Last week, the company held its 2011 Fall/Christmas selling show for retailers.

The fall apple selling season, popular with Northeast retailers, provides an ideal seasonal tie-in for bakeware, bake accessories and gadgets. Imperial’s tie-in promotion to apple selling at grocery retailers will run from the last week in August through October.

At stores where space permits, displays will include a quarter-pallet, walk-around display. At stores with limited space, tie-in items will be sold from shippers or on clip strips.

Such opportunities help grocery retailers gain additional margins.

“The very good grocery retailers are all very conscious of the latest trends in food. They know how to maximize those trends and take advantage of them. We want to make sure they are taking advantage of the latest trends in the housewares in the food prep arena as well,” said Kirby.

It’s about the grocery retailer helping the shopper to complete the food shopping trip, he added.

The housewares show ends tomorrow with a keynote address by the newly elected Mayor of Chicago and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel will address the housewares industry at 7:15 a.m. tomorrow. That’s our wake up call.