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Lifestyle considerations making housewares a hot commodity


LAS VEGAS —As housewares becomes more about lifestyle, form has begun to creep up on function as a factor in making a product attractive. Today’s home-body, who is relaxing and entertaining at the domicile, is more intent on creating the kind of experience domestically that folks used to go out to enjoy.

Retailers realize this. For instance, at the recent Gourmet Housewares Show, which ran from May 6 to 8 at the Sands Convention Center, Bob Capella of Capella’s Ace Hardware—after wisecracking about how he couldn’t figure out who uses some of the more outlandish products offered at the show—cited a vendor called Sexy Savvy as the example of what he found new and interesting. Developed by president Helen Pham, the Sexy Savvy line of aprons is, according to the company’s mission statement, “design to enhance the quality of life for women by promoting elegance, class and sexiness in their everyday work and life experiences.” Pham summed up the intention by saying that a woman should feel like a woman no matter what the circumstances. The Sexy Savvy line is form fitting but includes looks that range from conservative to suggestive including one designed to resemble a French maid’s uniform.

Capella was impressed by how the product line was thought through and executed. “She’s really got it together,” he said.

Of course, most of those companies promoting new products took a more conventional tack. Yet, that doesn’t mean the lifestyle element didn’t have an effect. A major initiative at Taylor/Salter was a newly crafted portable food warmer. The appliance was designed to solve multiple lifestyle challenges such as coping with family members on conflicting schedules or to provide a place to keep food ready at events like potluck diners. The product is even collapsible for more ready storage. At a $199 price point, the product will be ready to ship in October.

In another major initiative, Key Ingredients unveiled the Demi, an electric recipe file that was designed for use in the kitchen. The touchscreen controls ensure there are no keys or switches that can be fouled by flour or grease. Recipes can be downloaded onto the Demi by linking to the Key Ingredients Web site and taking advantage of a range of features to serve cooks. Thereafter, the recipe caan be kept close at hand conveniently, as the Demi is around the size of a typical card file. The price point is $499, and it ships in October.

For many vendors who already attended the International Home and Housewares Show in March, the Gourmet Housewares Show was a place to reiterate important initiatives and introduce them to new audiences. Such was the case for Gibson Overseas, which featured its new cutlery lines under the Sunbeam and Oster labels. In the same vein, Bialetti focused on its Mokona Espresso machine, a foray into electric products after a long tradition of developing stovetop coffee makers. The price point is $349.99, and it is currently shipping.

Many of the true introductions fell under the food preparation and gadgets categories. Trudeau, for example, introduced six fondue sets, ranging in retail price from $12.99 to $49.99 and ranging in style from traditional to contemporary to whimsical. The company also introduced a new bar tool line dubbed Fusion, which featured bright colors on corkscrews and related products, for a $8.99 to $29.99 retail, and Balencia, six cooking tools composed of silicone and nylon crafted to hang on pot lids, each for a $9.99 retail. All the products ship in September.

ISI fell in with a trend for more natural materials by introducing bamboo tongs, but it added a little fun via a colorful rubber hinge at a $15 price point, shipping in July. Bambu introduced show attendees to an expansion of its kids’ utensils line, which won a design award at the show. The line includes both meal and cooking utensils and ranges in price points from $3.95 to $11.95.

Meanwhile Okra featured its Multisteamer, which combines a bowl, colander and tray with a $40 price point which will ship in August and Nespresso highlighted its a focal Aeroccino Plus milk frother, which adds a feature to the original Aeroccino that now permits cold or hot milk frothing. The price point was $129.99 but a ship date had not been settled at the time of the show.

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