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Gifts & Housewares Spell Holiday Sales

Sep 1, 2008

New product introductions provide impulse attention to gift and housewares categories. It is carefully selected price points, however, that make it easy for consumers to buy on impulse with accessible cash. So say suppliers to these markets.

They also recognize that the wholesale costs of these items must give retailers a healthy profit margin. Rising costs, due to everything from increasing salaries overseas to hikes in transportation expenses and the cost of materials, make this a challenge that several suppliers are able to achieve.

Increased eating and entertaining at home are fueling a positive sales potential for housewares. And the upcoming holiday season is drawing attention to both housewares and gifts.

"We're up for the year," reports Brian Ernster, VP of Chef Craft Corporation in Pewaukee, WI, and he also notes that sales are helped, "with the cost of dining going up."

Chef Craft carries about 700 different kitchen tools and gadgets, and they are offered in two levels; one with introductory price points, and also the gourmet level. Items in the former typically wholesale beginning at 45 cents, with many geared to the dollar store retailer.

Wholesale prices for gourmet level items are about $3.99, designed to retail at $6.99 to $7.99. A good seller, Ernster reports, is the Quick Corkscrew, which wholesales for $7.50 and has a suggested retail of $14.90.

Regardless of price point, consistent sellers are, "Any wooden spoon, vegetable peelers, spatulas and can openers," he reports. Among the newer housewares is the E-Z Out ice cube tray; sports bottle ice cube trays that produce ice that fits in a bottle, and flexible cutting boards.

Chef Craft will build custom pallets or half and quarter pallets for retailers. They come with headers that meet the retailer's specifications, such as 99 cents or $1.99, or two for $3, and so on. There are also preselected programs in which the items are proportioned, or weighted, according to their historic sales performance. These are in and out displays. "The retailer simply unwraps the package and sets it up," Ernster explains. "There's no labor required, and the store can begin selling right away."

A full pallet contains about 2,600 pieces; a half pallet has bout 1,200, and a quarter pallet has between 500 and 600 items. Chef Craft also puts together seasonal pallets, such as the fall pallet, which contains products typically in demand for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It wholesales for $1,740, or about 67 cents an item, and units are designed to retail at two for $3.

A Christmas half pallet is available for $850, or about 70 cents an item. It includes Christmas plates, wine gift bags and other timely items, in addition to the traditional holiday housewares, and comes in a promotional display that has sides that look like a Christmas tree.

Shaffer Wholesale Distribution in Lecanto, FL supplies both components of the housewares category: kitchen gadgets and bakeware. Dan Diaz, owner, agrees that the category has been helped by people cooking at home. "They reach in for the old cookie sheet and find it rusted," he notes, "so they need to replace it."

His company supplies metal bakeware with a non stick coating. Wholesale prices range from about $1.50 to $6 or more for a roaster with racks, for example. Muffin pans and cookie sheets are among the best sellers, and Diaz says, "Retailers can double wholesale and still be competitive with Wal-Mart."

Diaz agrees that among tools and gadgets, can openers and peelers are steady sellers. "The newest hot sellers, which have been doing very well for almost two years," he adds, "are the onion saver, garlic saver, tomato saver and lemon/lime saver."

Each of these "savers" is designed to look like the item that is to be stored in it. "Put the food in, close the lid, and first, it does not get lost in the refrigerator," Diaz notes. "Second, it also helps keep the food item fresh, longer." These wholesale for $1.75 each and retail for between $3.99 and $4.99.

In addition to its lines of regular housewares, Shaffer also carries some restaurant quality goods. "They are more expensive, but they last longer, and people like restaurant quality," he adds. This includes commercial grade knives.

Shaffer also runs holiday specials, generally at discount pricing. Top among the items for Halloween are cookie cutters. Roasters and basters top the list for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Good quality cookware (pots and pans) at very competitive prices are the specialty of Ammtech USA Inc. in La Puente, CA. The company has been producing cookware for well known brands for a long time, according to John Shen, sales manager.

On that foundation, it has introduced its own new house brand, the ASD brand. There are about 20 items in the collection, ranging from individual pieces to complete, coordinated sets. There are aluminum metal pans and stainless steel with non stick coatings.

"Based on our experience, we know what consumers want," Shen says, "and we can put together good packages of top sellers for retailers." Sets containing two sizes of sauce pans, a dutch oven, two sizes of fry pans, a stock pot and a lid, is a best seller in the line. Individually, the 10 inch fry pan is most popular, he reports.

Ammtech calls for a minimum order of 50 pieces, which can include any combination of individual items or sets. "We can offer 10 pieces for a wholesale cost of $20," Shen reports, "and the suggested retail will range from $29.99 to $39.99. All items in the ASD brand are individually packaged in a colored box that shows what's inside."

Affordability and profitability are at the heart of gifts supplied by BL Gifts Wholesale in Warriors Mark, PA. It carries approximately 1,000 different products. They include poly resin figurines in a wide range of designs, and blown glass figures also in a broad design spectrum.

"The main part of our inventory is priced so retailers can sell the items for under $20 and still make a good profit," says Brian Black, sales manager. "That is an amount of cash that is accessible for consumers to buy on impulse," he reasons. He also requires a minimum order of just $50, which can include an assortment, giving retailers an opportunity to try out the products.

Black and his staff will guide retailers to the themes that sell best in particular parts of the country. While the company carries figurines that range in size from three inches to as big as 56 inches for Indian pieces, the best sellers, according to Black, are the mini units.

They wholesale for $12 a dozen, or $1 each and have a suggested retail of between $2.99 and $3.99. "Generally we do dozen assortments by theme, such as wild life or farm animals," Black says. Within the dozen, there would be three each of four designs in the theme.

Among the themes are: nautical, fantasy, southwest, safari, holiday and others. Dragons, bears, fairies and a unicorn are among the most popular, he reports.

The blown glass figures are all hand blown, and they include an equally wide range of designs, although the themes are often different. "These work well with an LED base," Black explains. Some of these have a base included, and BL also carries bases.

The units are between 3.5 and four inches, and the most popular designs are hummingbirds, butterflies, lighthouses and dolphins. These typically wholesale for $3.50 to $4, and the suggested retail ranges from $12.99 to $19.99.

Lighted, motion home décor items are the specialty of Universal Time Enterprise in Los Angeles. These are moving pictures ranging from 12 to 20 inches that look like a TV screen and have a mesmerizing decorative effect. The two themes are ocean fish and cities, according to Henry Hui, owner.

They come in small, medium and large, with the smallest wholesaling for $5. The wholesale price for a medium unit is $6.50, and for the largest, is $12.50. The latter retails for between $28 and $29, and Hui says retailers can, "At least double the wholesale cost on all of the units." The minimum order is a case. For large size, that's six units; it's 12 for the medium size, and 24 for the small units.

Universal Time also supplies 10 different styles of wall clocks that replicate the expensive Seico units that wholesale for as much as $250, according to Hui. His company's look-alikes play music, just like their more expensive counterparts, but wholesale in a range of from $25 to $40, allowing the retailer to more than double the wholesale price and still provide consumers with a bargain.

As the holiday season approaches, consumers are likely to be seeking bargains while still looking for good gifts and a happy holiday. Wholesalers are gearing up to meet that demand.

The following people at these companies were interviewed for this article:

John Shen, sales manager
Ammtech USA Inc.
13162 East Valley Boulevard
La Puente, CA 91746
Toll Free: 866-403-8880
Tel.: 626-336-2938
Fax: 626-336-2930

Brian Black, sales manager
BL Gifts Wholesale
2077 Pennington Road
Warriors Mark, PA 16877
Tel.: 814-632-3137
Fax: 814-632-3142

Brian Ernster, VP of sales
Chef Craft Corporation
P.O. Box 370
Pewaukee, WI 53072
Toll Free: 800-628-3794
Tel.: 262-347-0860
Toll Free Fax: 800-416-7448

Dan Diaz, co owner
Shaffer Wholesale Distribution
5415 West Homosassa Trail
Lecanto, FL 34461
Tel.: 352-621-3712
Fax: 352-621-3714

Henry Hui, owner
Universal Time Enterprise, Inc.
1901 South Santa Fe Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Tel.: 213-620-0071

Topic: Product Trends

Related Articles: housewares 

Article ID: 727

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