ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Small brushes are driving the stick goods expansion at Carr Gottstein Foods where, in some cases, the category's size has been doubled to 16-foot departments.
The chain, based here, has increased the number of stockkeeping units in the section in line with the larger department size. The assortment has grown from 150 to 200 items. The expanded variety carries the same price points.
Brooms, brushes and mops are now set into larger 12- to 16-foot sections from the previous 8-foot departments.
"This enables us to offer a larger variety of smaller vegetable brushes, a segment of the category that seems to be going crazy. People today, we're finding, want all kinds of brushes," said Gary Schloss, vice president of general merchandise.
"You walk into somebody's house and they'll have a drawer full of all sorts of brushes. We enlarged the department to give our customers wider choices."
The expansion is part of Carr Gottstein's philosophy of stressing highly consumable general merchandise that "wears out and needs to be replaced fairly frequently," said Schloss.
He added that "People are fascinated by small brushes and seem to have a fixation for them, like small scrub and other brushes, including one to clean mushrooms with."
Several manufacturers supply Carr Gottstein stick goods variety, including Topco's private-label line. The larger stick goods sections were set at all stores last fall.
Schloss said the sets would be evaluated within the next year. He projected a sales gain of at least 10% to 15%.
However, Carr Gottstein has found the category generates a steady stream of repeat sales.
"There's good repeat business in stick goods, and the new department look has opened it up more. Every time you redo a section, even if it's still the same merchandise, as long as it has a new look customers walking by will be attracted to the new presentation," said Schloss.
When it shifted to the larger department, the chain also revamped the merchandising method to a pegged display.