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Some Nifty Finds at Las Vegas Market for Entertaining at Home and Beyond

By Robin Mather

When your customers mention entertaining at home, are they thinking about strictly within the four walls of their own houses? Or are they also planning what we’ve come to think of as entertaining-at-home-adjacent — the upscale picnic that goes to the concert in the park, or dinner on the dock, or the day at the beach, or the kids’ birthday party anywhere but home?

Though retailers haven’t focused specifically on that trend, we saw a number of items at the recent Las Vegas Market that work especially well for entertaining away from home. The manufacturers we met agreed that their customers, especially their Millennial and younger customers, adore the idea of entertaining in locations away from their homes.

While wine glass charms have been around for some time, Going Stemless offers super-powered magnet single charms and sets of charms so guests can identify their own glasses. A stainless steel magnet goes inside the glass, and the dangling brightly-colored charm clips onto the outside. The benefit here is that these adorable little charms also work on the kind of glasses we often take on picnics: the iconic red Solo cup. The company’s best seller is a beach-themed set of five charms with a suggested retail price of $21.95.

Two items from the Di Potter line are perfect for an elegant dinner outside the home. Wine glass shades rest on any wine glass; drop in a battery-powered tealight, and you’ve got an instant, upscale, safe light for an intimate dinner. With a suggested retail of $18 for a set of six, they’re an affordable addition to your customers’ entertaining pantry. The Bottle Light, a battery-powered light that drops into a wine, champagne or water bottle, casts a dreamy, soft light that is especially appealing. Using three AA batteries, Bottle Light’s batteries will last 80 to 100 hours of use, or customers can replace them with a rechargeable USB power source (suggested retail price $30). The Bottle Light is available in clear and colored versions; suggested retail price is $30 for clear and $50 for a color option that allows you to choose from a number of colors.

Messermeister has introduced a line of knives with cheery colored handles, in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and black. The six-inch cheese and tomato knife (suggested retail $7.95) has a slightly serrated blade, which makes it ideal for soft foods such as fruits, vegetables and cheeses, as well as harder foods such as baguettes and firmer cheeses. Holes in the blade keep soft foods from sticking, and its pronged tip makes serving sliced cheeses easy, too.

JK Adams, makers of cutting and carving boards, also has a line of just-the-right-size cheese and cutting boards made from maple, ash and other fine woods. Suggested retail prices start at around $12 for these little guys, and retailers can offer personalization at an additional cost.

Sophistiplate showed a line of handsome and especially sturdy paper plates and cutlery, available in a wide range of colors and patterns. Ruffled edges on some pieces make an especially charming place setting, and 70-piece sets for service for 10, including plates, bowls, napkins and cutlery are available with a suggested retail price of $39.99.

Twine Living continues its seaside line of picnic helpers, including a tidy ticking striped picnic blanket with a waterproof lining and four stakes to secure its sturdy grommeted corners. The blanket comes with a handsome leather carrier to make toting it to its destination easier. With a suggested retail price of $49.99, the blanket would be a welcome addition to the entertaining away from home closet.

Kitchenware to Streamline Millennial Lives

By Lorrie Baumann

Millennials are grown up, becoming parents and even sending their youngest children off to school now, and kitchenware and housewares manufacturers are responding to their current needs with products to streamline their experiences in the kitchen while also allowing them to be certain of what they’re eating and what they’re feeding their children. That same Millennial need to be certain of the value of what they’re feeding their children is also spurring growth for organic food, personal care products and fibers, which are all seeing a boom that’s not expected to bust any time soon.

For the household, that need is being fulfilled by take-along food containers that can be filled with grass-fed yogurt or organic butternut squash soup and then tossed into a school lunchbox without much fear that they’ll leak all over last night’s math homework all the way up to a picnic cooler from Built NY that’s designed to take on the weekend-in-the-woods competition with YETI’s soft-sided cooler totes at a more attractive price point. Many of these offerings will be launching this year at the International Home + Housewares Show, scheduled for March 10-13 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois.

Goods for the On-the-Go

Pack-It is in this mix of products designed to appeal to active and health-conscious Millennial consumers with its new Freezable Double Wine Bag, which comes out of a night in the freezer with enough chill power to keep two bottles of wine cold for up to 10 hours. It has an over-the-shoulder design in nontoxic poly canvas with an interior gel divider to provide 360-degree cooling for the bottles inside and a webbed strap. It comes in two fabric colors: the multicolored Blanket Stripe and Sophie, which is a charcoal gray herringbone tweed look. Both have black stripes. The Freezable Double Wine Bag will retail for $21.99.

Also new is Pack-It’s Freezable Can Cooler Backpack, which will chill 18 12-ounce cans or a family meal and keep it cool for three or more hours with Pack-It’s new Radiant Shield Technology. A welded inner liner allows for the addition of extra ice in a leak-proof interior that cleans up easily. A front zipper pocket will hold car keys and a cell phone while a top zipper pocket provides storage for napkins and eating utensils. Like other Pack-It products, it folds flat to go in the freezer or for storage between uses. It’s available in either Charcoal or Navy Buffalo.

GoodCook brings its Meals on the Run collection with a whole range of sizes and styles of containers with silicone-sealed locking lids to keep food safe in backpack or purse. One of the coolest of these is a double-decker container that unfolds to hold a sandwich in one half and the lettuce and tomatoes or sliced fruit or sticks of rabbit food in the other half. The collection even includes a bento box container with eating utensils included. They’re all sold individually with retail prices ranging from $3.99 to $8.99.

For even stronger leak-proof performance, there’s the EMSA Clip&Go containers, high-end containers offered in the U.S. through a partnership between Bradshaw Industries and German manufacturer EMSA. Freezable and microwavable, these plastic containers are engineered with integral silicone seals in their lids that leave no gaps, so the containers are airtight, leak-proof and impenetrable by germs. Foods stored in the containers have been tested and proven to stay fresh twice as long in these containers during refrigerator storage, compared to foods stored under plastic wrap, according to the company. They’re virtually indestructible and guaranteed to last a minimum of 30 years, with suggested retail prices ranging from $2.99 to $9.99.

At the top end of this spectrum is the BUILT NY Welded Cooler Bag from Lifetime Brands, which is constructed with a leak-proof body and welded seams of a heavy-duty material similar to that used for whitewater rafts, so that it will, according to BUILT NY, keep its contents cold for days. Its zippered top opens out to create an opening about the diameter of a bushel basket, so it’s easy either to clean or to load in 10 pounds of ice along with 18 cans of soda or up to 30 pounds of ice alone. It has a padded, adjustable strap and reinforced side handles, an attached bottle opener and multiple tie-down points. Clearly aimed at shoppers who will also be looking at YETI Hopper soft-sided cooler bags, the BUILT NY Welded Cooler Bag is a pound and a half lighter than the comparable-size Hopper bag and will retail for $179.99.

Can’t-Miss Kitchenware

For inside the kitchen, Instant Pot is coming out with a new model called the Instant Pot Max that’s the first small household pressure cooker on the market that can develop 15 pounds of pressure per square inch and maintain it for extended periods, so it can be used for pressure-canning of low-acid products as well as for the everyday multi-cooking that has built a cult following for Instant Pot. Available to ship in April, the Instant Pot Max has a 6-quart capacity – that’s total capacity; it won’t accommodate six quart-size canning jars – and offers touch screen controls and an automatic stirrer for an easy risotto or bone broth as well as button-controlled venting so the user doesn’t have to reach over the pot to the valve to release the pressure.

Thirteen safety features – more than offered by previous Instant Pot models – keep the device safe for the kitchen, and a lid detection indicator is designed to prevent the frustration that some novice users have reported to the company after their pressure cooker has refused to operate because the lid wasn’t properly secured. It’ll retail for around $200.

Robinson Home Products is bringing out a couple of lines of tools and utensils that are of particular interest. The Studio Cuisine collection is a line of utensils with handles in faux natural materials. They’re made with hydrographic printing, a new technology that creates designs that mimic the look of natural wood, yet they’re sturdy and durable. A line with handles that mimic granite will be coming out soon. Pieces retail for $4.99 and up.

Robinson Home Products’ Craft Kitchen is a brand of gadgets, cookware and casual dinnerware designed to appeal to the Millennial foodie. The gadgets are the classic essentials – peeler, whisk and so on, in matte steel with black acacia wood handles, designed for a retro look but updated to be ergonomic for a combination of solid performance and a satisfying feel in the hand. The pieces offer a lifetime guarantee on all items, and they’ll be ready to ship in June.

Progressive is bringing out a couple of really cool unitasker gadgets for its PL8 line of premium kitchenware products. The patented Flip-Blade Avocado Tool has a retractable blade that halves and slices avocados safely, a pit remover and a silicone scoop all in one easy-to-store tool that’s dishwasher safe. The Core & Peel Apple Tool has a hollow metal tube to core apples or pears and an integrated peeler mechanism that slides out to eject the core and then peel the fruit. The peeler locks into position for safety, and this gadget is also dishwasher-safe.

DKB Household USA is offering its own handy unitasker with the Zyliss 2-in-1 Pepper Corer. This handy little gadget is designed to hollow out a bell pepper or a jalapeno with a turn of the wrist to make stuffed peppers an easier standby. It’s easy to store, easy to clean, and it’s dishwasher safe. It’ll retail fro $9.99. The Zyliss Twist & Scoop Grapefruit Tool is designed specifically to segment clean cuts of grapefruit with its built-in corer and double-sided stainless steel blade. The corer locks inside the scoop for compact storage, and it’s dishwasher-safe.

The Negg is another handy unitasker. This little gadget makes child’s play out of peeling perfect hard-cooked eggs. It’s a plastic container with silicone caps, molded with little knobs on its inside wall. The user drops the egg inside the container, adds a little water, caps it and shakes it for a minute or two to knock the egg around against the plastic knobs. The shell shatters, staying attached to its inner membrane, so it peels off the egg with a minimum of effort, leaving behind an unpocked egg.
Bonnie Tyler, who invented this work of genius, says she had the idea after she had foolishly volunteered to bring a dozen deviled eggs to a potluck, only to discover after her eggs had been cooked that the shells wouldn’t peel off the whites without leaving divots. She knew immediately that there just had to be a better way, so she went to work to figure out what that might be. She did some research into how industrial food processors shell hard-cooked eggs, came up with an idea for a home kitchen version, and got together with business partner Sheila Torgan, who knows how to do computer-assisted design. The two of them had worked together for decades on branding and marketing, but Tyler had a yen to produce a tangible product of her own, and Torgan was all in.

They used the 3-D printer in their local public library to produce their first prototypes, and when they had a product that was ready to bring to market, they arranged to have it manufactured in Connecticut and started selling it on HSN, where Tyler just has to demonstrate how easily it produces perfect results to do land-office business at a retail price of $17.95. It’s dishwasher safe and available in seven colors.

Focus on Taste: New Zassenhaus Hot & Cold Brew Infuser

Depending on country of origin, a single coffee bean can contain hundreds of flavors. Zassenhaus celebrates the rich complexity of coffee taste with the new Hot & Cold Brew Infuser.

045017_aThe design stands out for its contemporary style and simplicity. With the growing popularity of cold brew coffee, coffee concentrate, and pour-over infuser methods, the Hot & Cold Brew Infuser speaks to today’s ever growing coffee trends. This multifunctional set performs double duty as both a brewer and a beautiful serving carafe.

With a 34-ounce capacity, the brewer makes up to eight cups of flavorful coffee. A micro-etched fine stainless steel filter preserves full aroma and eliminates the need for paper filters. Once the coffee is brewed to taste, simply remove the infuser.

This system excels when it comes to cold brew coffee. The fineness of the etched infuser is perfect for the extended brew time associated with cold brews. The glass carafe is 9.4 inches tall and features a large, gracefully curved handle. All components – the carafe, lid and infuser ­­– are BPA free and dishwasher safe.

The Zassenhaus Hot & Cold Brew Infuser ships in a four-color retail box, with a suggested retail price of $54.95. It will be available for shipment this February. It can be merchandised with Zassenhaus Coffee Mills for grinding coffee beans before brewing.

Frieling, the exclusive North American distributor for Zassenhaus, has cultivated alliances with top European manufacturers to create a one-stop powerhouse of innovation and quality in gourmet kitchenware and tabletop.

For more information, stop by the Frieling booth at the International Home & Housewares Show.

Gift and Gourmet Expert Appointed to Design Program Advisory Board

The Rutgers University Center for Innovation Education has appointed Shirley George Frazier to the advisory board of the Center’s Design Thinking Program.

In this invitation-only appointment, Frazier will share her years of design expertise with faculty and students at conferences, forums, and classroom visits on the Rutgers campus. She will also promote the program’s goal of linking industry with academia to ensure that resulting design projects benefit the business community.

“Influencing the next phase of socially-responsible designs and makers is a lifelong achievement,” says Frazier, who’s developed, judged, and presented seminars on design and packaging concepts for clients and at trade shows throughout the U.S.

Frazier is Founder and President of Sweet Survival LLC, a consulting firm assisting entrepreneurs in the start-up stages of stores selling gifts, gourmet, and gift baskets. She’s also a professional speaker on small business topics and author of numerous business and marketing books.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a leading national research university and the state of New Jersey’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education. Established in 1766, the university is the eighth oldest higher education institution in the United States.


Merchandising for Gift Sales

By Micah Cheek

Jill Foucré, Owner of Marcel’s Culinary Experience, has a tried-and-true strategy for last-minute gift sales. She has arranged the front of her store to be accessible to customers running in for a quick hostess gift or holiday item. “We do a ton of walking in and not knowing what [they’re] looking for,” says Foucré. “We have an array of products that cover an array of price points. If you come in and say, ‘I want to do something super special,’ we can cover that too.”

Marcel’s specializes in arranging little collections of two or three items arranged by theme. A food product like artisan dried pasta or a spice blend can make a nice centerpiece for some small items. “I love really great quality food products, [like] a really nice olive oil. Not so much a bottle of wine, but something I would cook with. Something you wouldn’t buy for yourself,” says Foucré. “We also have things like salt boxes – we’ll do that with a nice salt, or a mill. We have a lot of cocktail accessories, and we’ve got some really fantastic bitters that we can build into a cocktail thing.”

For folks who don’t know what they are looking for, Foucré recommends having some go-to items to recommend. “One of the things we always tell our staff is, ‘Always have three or four things in mind.’ I don’t want the staff there hemming and hawing. Because we carry a lot of local artists and food, we really try to be unique,” says Foucré. Handmade or unusual items are good suggestions, because it lowers the chance of the gift receiver getting multiples of the same gift. Handmade serveware has that individual look, and also makes itself a handy container for other items. “We carry a lot of different ceramic bowls – some of them are dipping dishes, some of them are ice cream bowl-sized – and we do tons of stuff with those. We’ll take a bowl, we’ll put in maybe a salt or herb blend and an olive oil, or something like that. Those tend to be very popular,” says Foucré. “The vessel will be part of what they bought. It they’re doing a baking thing, a glass bowl becomes part of the gift.” Bowls from ceramic companies like Carmel Ceramica can make a statement. Inspired by the beautiful gardens seen over Carmel, their porcelain Flower Garden collection has a hand-carved design and is safe for use in both dishwashers and microwaves.

Having a range of seasonal items available is an easy way to supply this need during the holiday season. “I love seasonal things. I love the things that you put away and bring out again,” says Foucré. “We generally have a very good selection of seasonal home décor things.” Even seasonal items aren’t needed, something printed with a statement shows that the consumer put some thought into what the receiver likes. “We have a lot of kitchen towels that aren’t seasonal,” says Foucré. “ellembee, they do towels with saying on them, and we sell literally hundreds of those. When you’re going to your book group and want to bring a little something, they’re great and a little irreverent.”

Candles on their own can seem like bland gifts, but a little something extra can make them special. “We sell a lot of scented candles in jars. We have them from a company called Lasco, Detroit Rose, we have a lot of different kinds that are great for hostess gifts,” says Foucré. “They can be a standalone, and we have a lot of fun matches we can sell them. Skeem [Design] sells some pretty matches in jars, we almost always will sell them.” Skeem Designs has matches in multiple colors and designs, packaged in tins and jars with different symbols and sayings on them. Some sets even have lines of poetry printed on the individual match sticks.

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