Cooking-School_Kitchen Window

Buyer’s Corner: Kitchen Window By Jess Schmidt

{Sponsored} After a tumultuous 2020, Kitchen Window in Minneapolis managed to rebound. Kitchen Window didn’t only have the pandemic to worry about; they were also hit hard several days in a row by riots, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise stolen, major property damage and vandalism to the store.

Despite all of the challenges, Doug Hoemueller, owner of the gourmet store and cooking school, is still optimistic about the future. Prior to the start of the pandemic, Kitchen Window hosted about 400 cooking classes a year, as well as 250 private events, in their 8,500 square foot retail location.

After repairing the damage from the riots, Kitchen Window has become much more focused on their systems, retaining the text-based curbside pick-up they added at the start of the pandemic and enhancing their ordering system. They also continued to offer local delivery within 20 miles and 24 hours, which helped Hoemueller retain his staff. As a result of these robust systems and a reworked assortment in the store, Kitchen Window had an excellent Q4.

Restocking the shelves

Hoemueller relies primarily on Atlanta Market at AmericasMart for the bulk of his buying each year. While he does attend other shows on occasion, he consistently goes back to Atlanta Market for a variety of reasons, including the

Mason Cash
Mason Cash

robustness of the market, efficiency of its layout, the reservations and badge systems, and how easy the Atlanta Market team makes it for buyers to get to and get through the market.

When shopping, Hoemueller starts on floor 8, working up to the top floor and then back down. Usually he spends three days at market, seeking primarily housewares, secondarily grilling and then giftware as the third category Kitchen Window stocks. This year, especially, the in-person factor was important to Hoemuller. At virtual events, “you aren’t seeing and touching the product,” Hoemueller said. “Getting back in a market is important. Most store owners and buyers are feeling comfortable navigating COVID-19, and the protocols (at Atlanta Market) are the same in each group’s showroom as to what we do in stores.”

Kitchen Window display
A display at Kitchen Window

In addition to the work rebuilding the Kitchen Window assortment, Hoemueller focuses on products that tell a story. This is an important factor for customers shopping online, since they don’t have the opportunity to physically interact with the merchandise. He also searches for things that aren’t a one-time purchase so that those shopping online as well as in-person are encouraged to shop more than the few times a year that most would visit a store primarily stocking kitchenware.

Advice for other retailers

Besides ensuring that items you’re selling online tell a story or encourage re-purchasing, Hoemueller recommends that retailers are active within their e-commerce platforms. 

Here are his top tips for improving your online sales:

  1. List new stock right away
  2. Offer a way to interact with customers shopping online
  3. Offer local delivery
  4. Offer touch-free curbside pick-up

Ultimately, retailers need to offer e-commerce in order to reach customers where they are. And in order to ensure that customers are getting high-quality merchandise, in-person buying at Atlanta Market plays a large role in how Kitchen Window is able to maintain high product standard and a unique assortment throughout these trying times.

For more details about Atlanta Market and to check out all the brands and showrooms there, visit Atlantamarket.com.

For the scoop on Las Vegas Market’s vendors and new market dates, visit Lasvegasmarket.com.

© 2021 International Market Centers

Jess Schmidt

Jess brings a creative writing degree and over 16 years of professional writing experience to her role as content marketer for the Great American Media Services and SmartSolutions teams. With her additional background in the design world, she works with clients to make their brand stories stand out. Her specialties are thought leadership, compelling descriptive language and marketing strategy. She moonlights as a contributing writer with Gift Shop Plus from time to time.




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