When Kitchen Kapers’ newest store in Marlton Square, N.J., opened on Sept. 21, the independent kitchenware retailer debuted a new concept: a dedicated area for cooking and baking demos.
The area is outfitted with four burners and an oven, explained Rick Kratchman, vice president of Kitchen Kapers. “It’s a dedicated space for chefs or manufacturers to come in. We want to have that aspect of something going on but not necessarily a cooking class.”
It’s important for the independent kitchenware retailer to showcase the new products it sells. “The interest in specialized cooking tools and innovative devices has exploded. So we are really excited to have a demonstration cooktop that allows us to show techniques that enhance the experience of preparing and serving fresh food,” Kratchman says.
Out of its 13 stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, only one, its Morristown, N.J., store, features a dedicated cooking school.
“One of the issues is that we’re in visible, high traffic locations,” Kratchman explains. “It’s just not cost effective to dedicate an amount of space to a cooking school…We do demonstrations in a defined area for that purpose.”
Since Kitchen Kapers opened its doors in 1975, what it looks for in a location has evolved.
“Back in ‘70s, and early ‘80s when we decided to expand, we wanted to have our stores near the Gap stores, one of the best retailers at the time. Then as time went on, we wanted to be near the Banana Republic,” Kratchman explains. “Then in the ‘90s and 2000s, we started to open store in lifestyle centers near Ann Taylor and Coldwater Creek. They’re no longer the darlings of the world. Now we look for a mix of national and local retailers.”
Selecting a thriving development with diverse businesses is a must. These days, Kitchen Kapers is looking to be near specialty food retailers such as Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s, both which “attract people who are more of our customer base,” he says.
Kratchman identified “two big trends” among its customers: grilling and juicing/blending. “Within the grilling category, the Big Green Egg is amazing,” he says about the outdoor ceramic cooker. “It is one of those products people buy and it far exceeds their expectations.”
Juicing is appealing to health-oriented consumers who want to augment their diets with fresh fruit and vegetable juices. “It is one of those diets that makes sense. Everything in moderation,” Kratchman says. “To consume a healthy glass of juice made with kale that tastes great is a bonus.”
The family-owned business has established itself as a retailer of affordably priced, quality kitchenware such as the SodaStream Genesis Home Soda Maker, Jura-Capresso Super Automatic Coffee Centers; top cookware lines including All Clad, Calphalon, and Le Creuset; top quality kitchen knives such as Henckels, Shun and Wusthof; small electrics such as Cuisinart, Breville, Kitchenaid, and Krups; as well as a huge assortment of kitchen gadgets. The Kratchman family prides itself on friendly, personalized, knowledgeable and efficient service while offering a wide variety of cooking tools to serve the needs of home cooks and professional chefs.