Anyone who usually attends the annual Kitchen/Bath Industry Show & Conference would have noticed a marked decrease in attendees at the 2009 event in Atlanta two weeks ago.
The popular show for the kitchen and bath set proved it's not immune to the overall recession, which slashed attendance numbers at the International Builders' Show in January and is likely to do the same at most trade shows for the year.
Despite the lower numbers and the subdued atmosphere, however, manufacturers still managed to provide some wow with innovative, albeit parsimonious, new product introductions. What the products lacked in volume, they made up for in inventiveness.
Plumbing giants Kohler Co. and TOTO USA led the crowd with a number of new products sure to generate buzz in the retail and wholesale world over the next year. And Emtek Products and Rheem Manufacturing Co. proved that innovation continues even when the economy stalls.
Final attendance figures for the show are not complete, but the number is likely to be less than last year's show in Chicago and far less than the record-setting 2007 event in Las Vegas. Here is a postmortem on the coolest products you may have missed if you weren't among the thousands that made the trip to Atlanta.