CINCINNATI - Bigg's, a division of Supervalu, has linked up with a popular local coffee house here and plans to put the concept in most of its stores, officials said.
After partnering with Awakenings coffee house last summer at a new store, the 13-unit bigg's added the branded coffee shop in another store last month and is in the process of installing it in two more stores. All are located at the front of the store, visible through the front window.
"We're happy with our relationship with Awakenings, and we'll eventually put it into most of our stores," said Tom Herman, bigg's vice president, but he declined to comment further.
The deal with Awakenings is the first of its kind for the retailer, sources told SN.
"This is a real partnership," said Dave Dyssegard, owner/president of Awakenings. "We pay a flat rent to bigg's and we operate and manage the store, but we're on bigg's cash register system.
"It was my idea to be on their cash register system," he said. "I thought it would be more of a service to their customers. With it this way, customers can bring a newspaper or a gallon of milk to our counter and pay for it there."
Awakenings also offers some products from the retailer's in-store bakery, such as doughnuts and large cookies.
"Some of the things we offer individually from their bakery are available only in packages in the bakery. So if they buy one of those here, we'll tell customers they can buy a package in the bakery," Dyssegard said.
"This is a joint effort. I need milk for my cappuccinos and other drinks and I buy that from bigg's. We estimate how much we'll need for the week and tell them ahead so they can order enough."
In business 14 years, Dyssegard owns and operates two stand-alone coffee houses, one just a half mile from his first location inside the supermarket.
The retailer/coffee house partnership was launched last June when bigg's new, fresh-concept store here was unveiled. That bigg's stands on the same site as a former Thriftway in the same shopping mall as Kroger Co.'s flagship store.
"We learned some important things at that first store that we'll apply at others," Dyssegard told SN. "For instance, that we can get along with less space."
For example, at the Hyde Park store, which was the first bigg's to roll out Awakenings, the coffee shop is 700 square feet. Nevertheless, the coffee shop manages to operate in a 400-square-foot space at the bigg's store in Mason, he said. Awakenings opened there in December.
"That works just fine," he said of the smaller space.
The latest service, wireless Internet, was installed in the supermarket Awakenings shops last month. Paid for by bigg's, wireless Internet connections will go into all future Awakenings installed in the bigg's locations, Dyssegard said.
"It's a valuable service," he said. "We have that in our stand-alone stores. In our bigg's locations, it's good for bigg's, too. Their customers and employees, even their vendors, have a place to sit down with their laptops and get on the Internet."
Awakenings bucks a lot of competition. Six stand-alone coffee houses lie within a mile of the Hyde Park location inside bigg's. There's also a Starbucks inside the Kroger flagship store just steps away. Apparently, there is enough business in the area to support all the coffee houses.
"We're doing well in the Hyde Park bigg's, not quite up to our stand-alones' sales, but we know it takes a while," Dyssegard said.