In our seasonal retail business, January is a time for renewal. My wife jokes that I call the ‘Spring’ anytime after Dec 25th. Being raised in retail I learned the cycles of retail renewal, which usually starts on Dec 26th. Kinda weird, I know, but the reality is that if we don’t start off on the right foot, with wind in our sails by Jan 1st, then we can get behind for the entire year!
So, in looking back over the last year we witnessed a few trends. Here are the our top 5 trends I saw in 2018:
- Getting away from coated pans: Now, we may have been witness to this slowly growing trend because we have put ourselves in the epicenter of the issue, but this is definitely a thing
- Seasoning: a big part of #1, but seasoning is the process of turning an Iron pan into a ‘natural’ nonstick pan. There is no doubt that seasoning and keeping a pan in great shape is a mild commitment but we witnessed a sea change of attitude in 2018
- New vs. Used: We’re advocates of buying less, or not at all. This may sound like a strange position for a retailer to take but we all must do more to lessen the burden on our planet. We know that people will continue to need cookware, knives, dishes, etc, so we are constantly looking for longevity in what we sell. We are also huge fans of kitchen hand-me-downs, where one generation passes on to the next.
- Plant forward eating. The overly confusing and somewhat intimidating world of “Plant Based Food” looks as if it’s making more sense to more people. We’ve heard loud and clear that most people are not ready for a wholesale switch, which is fine with us. Our primary goal is to help more people make more whole food at home – no matter what the food. We’re encouraged to hear more and more people talk about shifting their habits on their own terms.
- Bulk anything. Buying from Costco or the SuperStore has been a thing for a long time but we’re witnessing that more people, our customers at least, are looking for the products they love to buy from us in bulk and without packaging. 2018 was a breakout year for us with our Soap Refill program where we found ourselves out many times because we did not anticipate the growing demand (NY Resolution from our purchaser – to have bulk soap in stock all the time!!)
So that was looking back but I’m fixated on looking forward. In 2019 we will carry much of 2018 forward but there is ‘new’ on the horizon. Our top 5 predictions for 2019 are:
- The beginning of the end of coated cookware: I strongly believe that 2019 is going to be the breakout year for uncoated cookware, in general. The ‘trend’ is definitely catching on and I’m seeing more and more retailers carrying Iron cookware like de Buyer, Lodge, Mafter, Mauviel. There’s also a growing craft market which is making the most amazing products. Check out my favorite artisan Carbon Steel Pans and my favorite Cast Iron Pans. The challenge with this trend (which I hope is a movement) is that there’s a definite process to seasoning a pan and if it’s not done well then the pans kinda suck. Sometimes people say to me “oh yeah, I tried a cast iron pan and they don’t work”. My first reaction is to be a bit upset, as I’ll bet anyone $10 bucks that I can season any pan and have an egg slide right out. So this does not cut it with me as I feel strongly (can you tell?) that we all must do a bit more for our planet. We will be doubling down on our commitment to help everyone and anyone buy and/or care for their next pan, for the last time. Due to this trend I predict that we will start to see more aggressive marketing from the makers of chemical based cookware in 2019.
- Being Intentional – A little in vogue but there’s no better way to put it. Because we talk to so many people about health and happiness while they choose cookware or talk to us about their cooking habits, we‘ve come to see this growing trend. We predict that more people will slow down and put tech away in 2019. I predict (and hope) that more people will use that time to cook, or get outside for a walk.
- Simple food at home – We’re proponents of making time to cook but we’re also realists. We know first hand that most of us do not get to cook as much as we’d like to. We predict that 2019 will be the year of fast food at home. Food like gourmet grilled cheese, hummus and pita (like homemade pita that you can freeze for later), Tacos and nutrient dense quick salads, for a start. Cooking at home is so important for our well-being and health. I predict that more effort will be put towards this trend in 2019.
- Fat – It’s not a 4 letter word, mainly because it’s only 3 letters, but beyond that, fats are essential to our survival. What happened to fat in the 70’s is now widely accepted as a mistake made by poor research. Basically 1 report changed the eating habits for generations. Fortunately we’re moving past that period and Fat is becoming more acceptable, especially the required polyunsaturated and monounsaturated types. I predict that ‘just the right amount’ of good fat will become mainstream in 2019.
(Want to learn more about Fat?)
- No Bags – On January 01 we went bag free in our Victoria store. This was imposed by the city and to be honest, this makes our life easier. In boutique retail, where people still expect quality and service, a bag is still a thing. Now with the help of the city by-law we have moved away from plastic bags and the word is that more cities and municipalities are watching closely. Hard to say if a city the size of Vancouver will take on something as contentious as plastic bags, but Cook Culture will be bag free by the end of 2019. We predict more small scale boutique stores will ditch plastic bags in 2019.
Now, let’s get on with 2019 and we’ll see in 12 months how close I was…
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