For a fresh take on selling cookware, there's Central Market in Shoreline, Wash.
Here, housewares manager Erin Kealy expects to launch a tryout program on three different pans: a 12-inch skillet, a 2-quart saucepan and a 3.5-quart saute pan.
Customers wishing to test one of these pans for 48 hours leave a deposit of $25 to $40. If they decide to buy it, they return the item and pay for a brand new pan, minus the amount of their deposit. If they choose not to buy, their deposit is returned to them.
“I picked three different pans that I thought everybody would use in their homes,” said Kealy. “They're middle-of-the-road as far as cookware's concerned, and I believe cookware's no different than any other commodity — it's about finding what you want in your price range.”
The program will be launched on Dec. 1, when the store's remodel will be complete. If it's successful, it may be implemented at the two other Central Market Stores (in nearby Poulsbo and Mill Creek), and more houseware items will be added to the program.
Kealy said she expects the program not only to increase cookware sales, but also to decrease the number of returns she sees in her department.
“This is a great idea, because people don't know what they want to commit to, and we're supposed to be economizing,” said Marcia Mogelonsky, senior research analyst with Mintel International, Chicago, Ill.