Scoring a Heat-Treated, seasoned Lodge skillet at Macy's
*9-inch skillet - $39.99
*11-inch skillet - $49.99
*11-inch grill pan - $59.99
*Two-burner griddle - $79.99
*6-quart Dutch Oven - $129.99
For the first time in its 120-year history, Lodge Manufacturing Co. has signed an exclusive deal with a major retailer — Macy's — to carry one of its product lines.
Hundreds of Macy's stores and the Macy's online marketplace will carry Lodge's new Heat-Treated and Seasoned Cast Iron cookware, a line of rust-resistant, cast iron products with contemporary design and looks.
Heat-Treated cookware has been in development for two years and is designed to resist rust, which will enable consumers to occasionally wash their Heat-Treated products in the dishwasher.
The South Pittsburg- based company achieved this by removing oxygen from their cast-iron products and injecting nitrogen. Lodge officials say rust is the number one concern shoppers have about cast-iron cookware.
The Heat-Treated line will be exclusive to Macy's until the end of 2016.
Mark Kelly, public relations manager at Lodge, said Macy's approached Lodge about carrying Heat-Treated products.
Both Lodge and Macy's are currently targeting millennial buyers. Lodge has designed its Heat-Treated products — comprised of the 9-inch skillet, 11-inch skillet, double-burner flat griddle and 6-quart Dutch Oven with iron lid — to look and feel different than traditional cast-iron cookware.
"Millennials are truly different in that, based on our research, they're very traditional," said Kelly. "The millennials like history and tradition, but they want contemporary feel and contemporary shape."
Tendencies toward history and tradition are great for companies like Lodge, which has produced and sold cast iron cookware since 1896.
"If you go into Davy Crockett's cabin, you'll see a cast iron skillet," said Kelly. "Cast iron is the soul of American cooking."
But playing to millennials' love of good design, Lodge has incorporated details like the double, "shark-fin" handle on the Heat-Treated Dutch Oven lid. And the colorful, rubber handles with the Heat-Treated and Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware skillets.
Macy's, which operates 885 stores in 45 states, also is in the process of focusing on consumers age 13-30.
"This is now America's largest and most diverse generation, spending an estimated $65 billion each year for the type of goods sold at Macy's," Macy's said in a 2012 company statement about its future direction.
In 2012, Macy's began implementing its plan to catch more millennials — a strategy that includes discovering what brands millennials like and putting them in Macy's stores.
"In addition, the buying and planning organization will be working with its private brands organization and market vendors to bring fresh and exciting new brands and lines to the millennial customer at Macy's in apparel, accessories, beauty and home," the retailer said.
Part of the millennial strategy included launching exclusive, new brand-name lines at Macy's stores.
For Lodge, meanwhile, the launch of a major new line is in step with the company's continual, recent growth.
In 2010, web orders suddenly took a sharp uptick and have remained strong since, said Kelly.
"Our brand is really on fire right now," he said.
Lodge's agreement with Macy's will not affect its long-standing partnership with Lebanon, Tenn.-based Cracker Barrel, which has carried Lodge products for more than 40 years.
Lodge also just finished a significant expansion at its South Pittsburg foundry and has increased its capability to make skillets by 50 percent. Kelly said more-than-record sales are still outpacing Lodge's ability to supply skillets, and the company may consider another expansion in the near future.
Contact staff writer Alex Green at email@example.com or 423-757-6480.