When Coronavirus first surfaced in late January of 2020, no one could ever have predicted that we’d still be having conversations about the virus more than two years later, but here we are. Although we’ve been a bit beaten and battered at times, we are still standing together as an industry and supplying desired products to consumers throughout the world – housewares are often necessities and many times luxuries, and as the world worked from home, we were there to meet the consumer need.
Our industry is resilient, and after the past two years, we are no doubt ready to take on the many opportunities that 2022 will offer, and I look to the coming month as a turning point when we will once again be able to come together to discover new products and supply chains, to learn from industry peers and experts and to connect with current and new partners.
That does not mean that everything will be easy, or the same as it was in 2019, because it won’t. In light of the challenges created by COVID, ongoing labor and shipping issues, The Inspired Home Show 2022 will be smaller in size this year, but with perhaps more opportunity than ever. Our industry is made up of hundreds of small, mid-size and large companies, and while some have chosen to sit this year out, once the last display is set and the doors at McCormick Place open, we will have over 1,000 suppliers on hand to display their latest products and innovations.
After two years without an industry gathering, consider how many new products, new brands and new people have entered our industry, and how exciting it will be to discover and meet with them for the first time while also reconnecting face-to-face with friends and colleagues we’ve only seen through a computer screen for the past two years.
IHA staff have doubled our outreach to connect with as many US Key Retailers as possible and are happy to report that the 2022 Show will have strong support from most of the major buyers – in fact, 82 percent of the top US retailers have indicated that they plan to be in attendance. While the numbers within their delegations may be reduced from previous years, key decision-makers within these retailers plan to attend to continue with much-needed top-to-top meeting opportunities.
We’re also working hand-in-hand with independent and specialty buying groups such as Gourmet Catalog and HTI to bring their retail members to the Show, and IHA staff have had over 900 face-to-face meetings with specialty retailers since September – an effort that will continue throughout February. The results of these partnerships and meetings show a strong need and desire by this industry segment for the Show, and we look forward to welcoming our independent and specialty friends to Chicago next month!
As you may be aware, we have been cooperating with Epistemix, a data science company that specializes in infectious disease prevention, to develop a plan that allows our industry to come together at the Show in a safe and productive manner. McCormick Place has also been working hard to make sure that the entire campus is ready for our arrival. These efforts have been successful with Epistemix projecting the risk of infection at the Show to be less than 0.1% of all attending, placing our event below the CDC threshold for safe travel and gathering. More information about what we are doing to keep attendees safe while at the Show can be found on the Show’s website.
In addition to the efforts being made by McCormick Place and the Show, IHA members are also doing their part – in fact, IRIS USA is supplying complimentary face masks that will be distributed during the Show, and Newell Brands and simplehuman are both supplying hand sanitation stations that will be placed throughout McCormick Place. We are very thankful for these companies’ commitments to the safety of our industry!
It’s been far too long since our industry has gathered together in Chicago, and it’s time we come back together for three days of networking and product discovery. You may have seen our marketing messaging over the past several weeks that asks, What’s Been Missing? – the clear answer is that Discovery, Exploration, Inspiration and Connection have been missing, and all can be found at The Inspired Home Show 2022 in Chicago, March 5-7.
Although I have worked within the housewares industry for over 26 years and for IHA for more than 22 years, I have never been more excited about welcoming everyone, from the USA and around the world, to The Inspired Home Show in Chicago next month – I very much look forward to seeing you there!
Derek Miller, President & CEO