MUSKOGEE, Okla. -- Price Mart here netted big sales -- and new customers, too, it hopes -- with a 400-foot-long submarine sandwich tied in with the college basketball finals.
The week before the "Final Four" games were played, Price Mart touted its huge, attention-getting sub with handouts and bag stuffers headlined, "It's the Final Four . . . Hundred!"
But "final" is not really what Price Mart officials were looking for. Indeed, they said they expect the sub effort will create ongoing increased sales of both sub sandwiches and pounds of premium deli meats.
It took just four hours to sell the entire 400 feet of sandwich, said George Donker, perishables director for Brattain Foods, which operates four Price Marts averaging 50,000 square feet each, and four smaller-format supermarkets under the Sunfresh banner.
The big sub promotion was staged at a newly remodeled, 55,000-square-foot unit of Price Mart, March 28. The sales began at 11 a.m., but calls were coming in earlier in the morning, with customers asking when the action would start, Donker said.
Laid out on tables snaked throughout the store, the 400-foot sub did a good job of catching the attention of shoppers, Donker said. They could hardly miss it.
"The sandwich started at the front of the store and ran all the way to the back, through the deli, and ended up in the dairy department," he pointed out.
"There was a lot of interest. I saw people walking up one side of the sub and then down the other. They didn't know what to think."
While foot-long lengths of sandwich were sold for $1.98, most people bought the 6-inch ones, Donker said.
"A lot of people said they were buying the sandwiches to eat while they watched the game that afternoon," Donker added. He said one man bought a whole bag of them to take home; others ate them right in the store. Those who tasted the product on-the-spot gave it great reviews, Donker said.
"We used the best ingredients we could find, and didn't skimp on anything. We wanted to show people what a good sub we make. and this was an exciting way to do it," he said. The monster sandwich contained 240 pounds of Kentuckian Gold, Wilson and Tyson deli meats; 35 pounds of Hoffman American cheese and 35 pounds of Delico baby Swiss cheese. It was topped off with 40 pounds of shredded lettuce.
The bread was all baked in that single unit's in-store bakery. "It took nine hours to bake the bread," Donker said.
"We cut the ends of the loaves off so we could square the ends against each other," making it look like one long sandwich, Donker explained.
A flier distributed several days before the weekend said, "Come see Oklahoma's longest submarine sandwich. Join us for all the dribbling and passing (of napkins) to sink this 400-foot sub."
The handout also said, "Six-inch super sub, 99 cents, while supplies last."
The store didn't lose money at those prices, because the company had support from vendors, Donker said. Suppliers also helped construct the submarine.
"We set up an assembly line and put it on covered 8-foot tables, and it took probably three hours to get it together," Donker said. The sandwich was covered with plastic wrap, and associates were stationed all along the sub's way.
"It was all very well-thought out ahead of time. We'd cut a 6-inch length and put it in a French bread bag, which we had already got prepriced on the bottom," Donker said, explaining that the bags were already stickered with their price and other scan data.