Sell Out Your Expo: Gourmet Housewares Maxes Out the Show Floor

After more than 35 years on the West Coast, Marc Delman and his colleagues decided to bring the once-standalone Gourmet Housewares Show from the Moscone Center in San Francisco to the New York International Gift Fair in 2011.

After expanding the show’s exhibit space by more than 15 percent for 2012, Delman still sold it out. Plans are underway for an even bigger show floor next year.

“Clearly, companies in the gourmet category recognize the value of exposure at one of the country’s largest gift and lifestyle tradeshows,” Delman says of the well-established New York show.

Over 175 companies were represented at the four-day market held Aug. 19-22 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. The focus of the show was high-end cookware, bakeware, kitchen gadgets, kitchen textiles, bar and wine accessories, specialty food, cookbooks and other accessories. Delman spoke with EXPO about the show’s quick success on the East Coast.

EXPO: What was the key to selling out the Gourmet Housewares Show this summer?

Marc Delman: The key factor was identifying a need for exhibitors and providing a solution. The need in this case was answering the question of how to grow your business in a consolidating marketplace that also is economically challenged. The solution was to identify an audience of retailers that housewares manufacturers traditionally do not address and convince them that the attendees of the New York International Gift Fair [NYIGF] would complement their existing distribution and not harm it. The result was a strong market with even greater expectations for growth in the future.

EXPO: Why did you increase exhibit space in 2012?

Delman: In 2011, we relaunched the Gourmet Housewares Show from a freestanding market to an important and strategic part of the NYIGF. Bringing the show to the East Coast from its traditional roots on the West Coast made us conservative in our approach in 2011. The success of 2011’s debut in New York, along with key meetings throughout the year with industry leaders, gave us the opportunity to expand this past August.

Without divulging specific numbers, we were able to grow the show in terms of total exhibit space and individual companies. Previous exhibiting companies either returned with the same size stands or even a slightly larger presence while newcomers to the show in New York also participated for the first time.

EXPO: What were some of the sales strategies you used?

Delman: My background is pretty diverse, so the biggest strategy was to leverage my relationships with industry leaders at a high level and use my knowledge of their businesses. By applying this to the Gourmet Housewares Show, we began to get momentum for the show.

Second, we positioned the selling floor between a very successful tabletop area and Accent On Design, our high-design area. The companies that we targeted for the Gourmet Housewares Show at the NYIGF are design-driven companies and there is a synergy on the selling floor between both divisions.

EXPO: What is your pricing model at the show?

Delman: We use similar pricing throughout the show. Exhibitors can either pay a net price for the space alone or participate in our booth package. The NYIGF tends to be one of the more expensive shows in the gift industry. We offer only one price to all exhibitors, with the exception of a volume discount to some larger spaces. We are in an envious position in the trade show business in that we do not discount. The show constantly delivers a strong value and we cannot afford to discount on it.

EXPO: What did you learn from the previous year’s event, which was your first in New York?

Delman: You constantly have to build a better mousetrap. The days of signing up for a tradeshow and then just showing up are over. Exhibitors have to invest in their presentations, which is an investment in the show as well as in their own company. I coach my exhibitors to create a visual and dynamic presentation for the retailer. The success of the show for each one of those exhibitors then follows.

All too often in our industry, we have to work around seniority issues, product category restraints and a whole host of other obstacles. As long as you try to figure out what is best for the end user (in my case, that is the retailer), the exhibitors will want to participate for years.

Posted by Michael Rondon

Michael Rondon is a senior editor for Expo. Reach him @Mike_Rondon or View all articles by Michael Rondon →