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Ware & Why: Tabletop

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The Gourmet Retailer
August, 2010
By Anna Wolfe





Elsa Pinto-Melikian, with Your Registry Inc., a Sacramento, Calif.-based registry service for independent gourmet stores, said there are many factors why white is in demand.

“People want things to work together. Something that works in every situation, something they can mix with casual with the super-stuffy stuff,” she said.

With cooking shows on television 24/7 and with more people cooking more at home, our society has evolved more into a food culture, she noted. Plus, food presents well on white.

Pinto-Melikian said tabletop, which is often stereotyped as fine china, has added categories that are not traditional—such as acrylicware and textiles.

Except for the South, where traditional brides include fine china in their bridal registries, the rest of the country has seen a shift to more utilitarian “relaxed, not fancy” place settings made by companies such as Casafina and Vietri.

“Tabletop is not going away. It has changed. The traditional china is not what is interesting to 24- to 32-year-old brides,” said Pinto-Melikian.

Owner Amy Ruis said her customers are creating “casual, beautiful tables” with coordinating, not matching, pieces. Metal serveware and Harold Import’s HIC Porcelain White trays, bowls and platters are in demand. “My customers are staying at home and updating their tables,” Ruis said. Art of the Table’s customers continue to invest in top-of-the-line tabletop items such as a high quality, versatile tablecloth, multipurpose stemware and flatware.

Gourmet stores hoping to get a piece of the lucrative bridal registry and tabletop business need to realize today’s shopper has changed, Pinto-Melikian said. One key group, the echo boomers, also dubbed millenials by market research professionals, make decisions in a group, and want to be helped by someone their own age. This group of 13-34 year olds are also the same one posting reviews on Yelp! and spending hours on Facebook connecting with their network.

“You need to understand how they think. They are so much more dependent than independent (on the advice of their peers when making buying decisions. ) You may not like them, but they are your future customer,” said Pinto-Melikian.

Before stocking your store with tabletop items and other items for bridal registries, Pinto-Melikian, who has created a guide for running an informal focus group, suggests that retailers host an informal focus group in their stores, and ask these soon-to-be brides what their preferences are in broad categories. “Don’t buy what you think would sell. Ask people what they’d buy,” she said.


© 2010 Stagnito Media.

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