by Peter Giannetti
There were many things the past year about which I never imagined I’d have to write. The next line is one of them: I attended my first in-person trade show in 14 months.
When I stepped inside the lobby of 41 Madison Avenue recently for the spring New York Tabletop Show, it began my first physical show experience since Germany’s Ambiente in February of 2020. That was just days before a then newly discovered virus shut down so many of the things we take for granted. Such as attending trade shows.
That I returned to an industry show as a representative of the International Housewares Association, after more than 31 years with HomeWorld Business, might take some getting used to for me and for the home and housewares industry. But there is some truth to the notion that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
This marks the beginning of an exciting new journey for me as director of editorial, content and education for IHA; and for IHA as it embarks on a mission to deliver exclusive, incisive business news, information and analysis required by home and houseware decision makers.
Never in my three decades of covering this business has there been a more urgent need for timely, in-depth news and content on this dynamic, fast-evolving industry. The objective of a forthcoming, new B2B editorial platform from IHA is unchanged from the approach I practiced for three decades: To report with an independent, objective voice on a home and housewares business that year after year, in good times and in challenging times, demonstrates its high value as a resilient, responsive and innovative resource for retailers and consumers.
Of course it felt a bit unusual as I entered 41 Madison for my first in-person show meetings after more than a year of unimaginably profound change to life and to business. However, as I made my way through the market, it began to feel more like business as usual, despite the necessary safety protocols and obvious attendance-limiting factors.
I overheard planning meetings. I witnessed retailers examining the latest tableware collections. I learned of orders being written.
In my own conversations at market, I didn’t have to worry about flaky WiFi; the lighting on my home office desk; or the inopportune roar of the neighbor’s lawnmower.
Instead, I got to talk, in person, about how the pandemic boosted a tabletop business that previously had been searching for renewed consumer relevance. I discussed how the business is poised for another strong year as people eager to show off their homes again to curious guests reset their tables for renewed entertaining and celebrating.
It didn’t take long before the show felt satisfyingly familiar. Different, but the same.
The enthusiastic appetite for face-to-face, hands-on, business-to-business exchange is real. You can feel it. And it should only grow as the year progresses, the pandemic eases and we close in on the widescale reuniting of the home and housewares industry next March at The Inspired Home Show 2022.
I’ve written the past 14 months about many things I never imagined as I awaited my next visit to a show. Returning has only confirmed how much there is to appreciate in the opportunity to cover this dynamic business. Some things never change. It’s good to be back.