Still our kind of town, Chicago is…

By Martin Griffiths May 11, 2018 International News

The 2018 International Home + Housewares Show was full to the brim with innovation.

To view a PDF of the complete feature as it appeared in NZ Hardware Journal magazine, click the download button at the bottom of this page.

The recent 2018 International Home + Housewares Show is garnering rave reviews from the industry with an overall feeling that the quality of buyers and sellers in Chicago this March was the strongest in years.

2018’s show space was sold out thanks to 2,244 exhibitors from 53 countries and again featured a focus on smart home and connected products. While this focus has remained unchanged over the previous couple of shows, it is hard to dispute the relevance of home connectivity which continues to expand and grow at an exponential rate.

“Even with the impact of the East Coast weather differential on Tuesday, we are very pleased with buyer attendance as 99% of the top 200 domestic retailers registered to attend, and international attendance was very close to last year’s record number,” says Phil Brandl, President & CEO of the International Housewares Association, adding that senior-level attendance from both retailers and suppliers was particularly strong.

The continued focus on smart and connected products saw the IHA Smart Home Pavilion grow in scale, with 28 new and current exhibitors displaying emerging technologies and the latest in smart and connected products.

On the subject of smart home, the Smart Talks stage featured 30-minute sessions with experts who discussed a variety of trends, including data security for businesses and consumers and tracking capabilities of product packaging, as well as new retail models for reaching consumers and strategies for developing and managing data-driven connected products and their services.

The sessions were live-streamed on IHA’s website and can still be viewed at



The 2018 show opened with previews on Saturday morning to give buyers an opportunity to see some of the 150 exhibitors before the show floor opened. The events attracted nearly 700 buyer and media attendees, increasing attendance over last year.

As always the show included a series of thought-provoking educational sessions, including keynote programs on colour and design trends including sessions from Lee Eiseman of the Pantone Color Institute, a panel of thought leaders on smart kitchens and a retail panel examining innovation and marketing.

An exploration of the retail renaissance explored how retailers and brands alike need to focus on the customer experience to win over shoppers.

In addition, the Innovation Theater offered almost two dozen presentations on smart homes and connected products; age and gender marketing; and international retail and consumer lifestyle trends.

Audio and video recordings of the educational sessions are available at

The next International Home + Housewares Show will be held over 2-5 March 2019, again at McCormick Place in Chicago.

With the show offering first class educational and networking opportunities for both speciality retailers and corporate buyers, special exhibitions and creative displays and a full line-up of seminars on trends and design, visual merchandising and branding, retail success factors and consumer preferences, you should make the decision to attend early!

2019 attendee registration and additional show information are available at


Bring rooms to life in AR

Seen in Chicago, the clever Cubit device & app enable you to visually plan changes to a room with accurate dimensional references and then guide you accurately to make those changes in real life. You measure your space and then redesign and rearrange it to your liking in the app, which also allows you to integrate photos of your actual space to get the feel for how the final project will look using actual dimensions and adding features like pictures, cabinets, windows etc. Once you’re done, Cubit guides you exactly to where you should put that nail (etc).

Alldock charging multi-dock

Also seen at 2018’s IHHS: in a household of two parents and two children, you’re likely to see at least four smart devices that need recharging daily. Alldock was designed to reduce cable clutter during charging in an elegant, non-technical, gimmick-free form. The key feature involves plugging your smart device’s USB cable into the Alldock’s hidden multi-port power hub which supplies 2400mAh from each USB port so you can charge up to six devices fast and simultaneously. Alldock comes in a variety of styles and finishes, can mix & match accessories and can also cope with smartwatches.

Robbox smart power tools

Canadian startup Robbox has created a line of power tools and garden tools that the company calls “smart power tools”. The tools are all controlled by a connected base that takes full advantage of a mobile app which calculates what’s needed for the task at hand to deliver maximum performance with all of the tools it connects with. Use the Robbox robotic tool to complete any home or garden project using attachments including screwdriver, drill, hedge trimmer, pressure washer, string trimmer, vacuum and car jack,
with more in the works!



Rust-Oleum Spray Chalk

Spray Chalk is a temporary decorative chalk that turns to powder as it comes out of the can creating cool sidewalk chalk-looks. It easily turns outside surfaces into playing fields, games, signs or outdoor masterpieces. Just shake and spray.
Spray Chalk goes where sidewalk chalk can’t – on grass, asphalt, snow and more. It’s temporary and washable too – the pet- and vegetation-friendly formula dissolves naturally in the rain or when washed off.

BBQ Holster

These patented silicone BBQ tool holders transform grilling surfaces with simple and clever solutions for managing hot and messy tools like greasy spatulas and tongs. Made of 100% food grade silicone, the easy storage pockets cling right to the edge of your grill providing a grippy utensil rest and a hand container for saucy tools and easy to lose accessories. Don’t worry about stains because all BBQ Holster products are naturally stain-resistant and dishwasher safe!

Better Grillin Scrubbin Stone

This cutting edge product will allow you to effortlessly clean and maintain your BBQ. The “stone” is actually a cellular glass product which does not absorb liquids or vapour, preventing bacterial growth. Grilles can be huge investment for those who want quality tasting BBQ. Wire bristles can damage your grill and leave metal particles on food surfaces. The Scrubbin Stone is said to clean better than wire bristles with no risk of ingesting harmful metal bristles left behind! Baked on food and grease are no match for the Scrubbin Stone.

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