Wild Oats in Tampa
A beacon shines from the Holistic Health department at the front left of the new Wild Oats prototype store in Tampa.
Literally, it is a bright lime-green beacon - a circular column nearly as high as the ceiling - that serves as an impossible-to-miss signal that this store includes a Holistic Health section.
Set within the column are computers and chairs, where shoppers can look up supplement and food information as it applies to certain health conditions. It also functions as a showcase for natural health and beauty products, displayed on wooden shelving .
The Holistic Health department is also one of a few store-within-a-store departments in this 37,000-square-foot unit, which is a switch for the Boulder, Colo.-based supernatural. Until now, the focus has been more on integrating items within the aisles.
"We created it as a destination department. You feel like you're in a different store," said spokeswoman Sonja Tuitele.
The Tampa location's Holistic Health department has come a long way from earlier Wild Oats stores, where the section was much smaller and confined itself to supplements and vitamins. Well, no more. Catering to consumers' growing interest in premium natural skin care and cosmetic products, high-end natural and organic lines are featured on an island at the front of the section.
Here, customers find lines such as No Miss Nail Care formaldehyde-free nail polish, Alba and Avalon Organics facial products, and Zuzu makeup.
Also different from other Wild Oats stores, the island includes a mirror and sink station, decorated with an orchid, where shoppers can apply products from a variety of testers on the shelves.
Other healthy lifestyle items complete the selection. For example, on the pilates and yoga supply shelves, a television provides an ongoing sampling of the DVDs for sale, though the aisle width prevents participation.
Independent retailers have the added advantage of community connections in leveraging their health and wellness programs. Case in point: Harris Teeter's new "Your Wellness" food and education initiative highlights its tie-in with a local integrated medicine clinic.
The chain partnered with Carolinas Integrative Healthcare to develop a program in mid-March that includes shelf tags, literature, and food and ailment recommendations from Dr. Russ Greenfield, the clinic's medical director. Both are based in Charlotte, N.C. The health center offers complementary and alternative therapies such as stress management, Chinese medicine, nutrition counseling and massage therapy.
"We talk to our [clinic's] customers about nutrition. I thought, 'Wouldn't it be neat if we could reach customers at the point of sale?'" Greenfield told WH.
With this thought in mind, Greenfield contacted Harris Teeter about a year ago to see if he could speak at one of its stores. Coincidentally, Harris Teeter was working on developing a health and wellness program and asked Greenfield to be part of it.
While the chain already had tags identifying products that are low in sugar, cholesterol and fat, and other distinctions, it added "Wellness Keys" - color-coded labels identifying certain products as "Heart Healthy," an "Excellent Source of Calcium" and a "Good Source of Protein."
Also, Greenfield and Harris Teeter's Chef Philip Anderson, director of fresh foods, developed recipes using the foods Greenfield recommends for 10 common ailments. For example, Greenfield suggests foods high in folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12, and omega-3 fatty acids for migraine headaches. The resulting recipe is a "Comfort Food Meatloaf," containing beef, organic nonfat milk, ground flax seed, organic eggs and other ingredients.
"What has been wonderful is that every part of the store has been willing to work with the program, including meat and fish. And the pharmacy has been great," Greenfield said. Harris Teeter's pharmacies educate shoppers on foods that will help with health problems such as diabetes.
A&P Lowers The Volume
Imagine being on a diet where you are never hungry.
A&P is educating shoppers about an eating plan called Volumetrics, a way to eat foods that make a person feel full "without eating so much that you can gain weight," nutritionist Charlotte Perry wrote in an article on the "To Your Health" section of the Montvale, N.J.-based retailer's website.
"The way to do this is to add foods to your diet that contain a lot of water. Foods to emphasize are soups, salads, fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains," Perry wrote. A series of articles on the plan started in December, with installments coming on the first day of subsequent months. They appeared on websites for most of A&P's banners, including A&P, Waldbaum's, A&P Super Foodmart, The Food Emporium and Super Fresh.
In addition to explaining this "eat and lose weight" plan, A&P's articles also provide recipes such as Baked Tilapia With Sauteed Vegetables and Low-Fat Pumpkin Spice Bread.
While A&P, which regularly communicates with shoppers through its "To Your Health" program, is not tying the diet in with products in its stores, it may interest shoppers in buying more healthful foods by educating them about Volumetrics.
"The diet sort of pushes you in the right direction, to eat the right foods," said Jim Wisner, president of Wisner Marketing Group, a supermarket consulting firm in Chicago. "You eat foods that are filling and less calorie-dense - high-water, high-fiber foods."
The Volumetrics diet was developed by Barbara Rolls, a professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University.
"The important thing is to understand that heavier foods do not have to be high in calories," she wrote in the series appearing on A&P's website.
Albertsons' Bag Plan
This April, Albertsons spiffed up its act.
While many supermarket chains threw in-store events to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, employees at Albertsons' California and Nevada stores helped to clean up their local environments.
In March, stores in the two West Coast divisions of the Boise, Idaho-based retailer asked shoppers to nominate public spaces in their communities that they would like their local stores to clean the following month.
Shoppers picked local parks, playgrounds, beaches and other locales, including Aliante Nature Park and Boulder City Hospital in the Las Vegas area and Memorial Park in Kingsburg, Calif. Employee volunteers from area stores then spent the day cleaning up those sites.
"The volunteer component of this program is actually very consistent with our company's commitment to giving back in the communities we serve," said Shannon Bennett, spokeswoman for the national chain.
In addition to getting their employees involved in the community, Albertsons is using the clean-up events to raise awareness among shoppers that plastic bags can cause "neighborhood blight" if not disposed of properly, she said.
"Since one the Top 10 pieces of trash found at local parks and beaches is plastic bags, we thought it would make sense to commit to cleaning up local parks and beaches in the communities we serve," Bennett said.
Albertsons is urging shoppers to recycle their plastic shopping bags, and donated 5 cents of every reusable shopping bag sold April 21-28 to the California Coastal Commission or the Nevada State Parks Cooperative Association.
"Last year, Albertsons recycled over 6,000 tons of plastic bags, wrap and film, but we realize that we can't do this alone," Bennett said. "[We] aim to help customers understand and appreciate the significance of this issue and help influence their behavior as well."
Albertsons is running public service announcements on CBS stations and employees are encouraging customers to bring reusable shopping bags to the stores.