ANCHORAGE -- Carr Gottstein Foods is giving renewed emphasis to video as it remodels its stores.
Three remodeled stores opened this year -- two of them last month -- have included expanded and remerchandised video presentations, said Gary Schloss, vice president, general merchandise. Graphics and other environmental aspects of the departments are new and consistent with the overall store's.
"Every time we remodel a store, and the video department is part of the project, we always see some increases in sales," said Schloss. "This represents a commitment to the video department. It's an opportunity to re-evaluate video, which is really producing a lot of revenue and profit for us, and bring it up to date."
About two months ago, the retailer opened its first live-inventory rental department in a store on Diamond Street in Anchorage, he said. The department occupies 600 square feet and has 3,000 rental units, up from the 2,500 units before remodeling.
"It was a test to see how that concept will do in that store. The sales are up in that department; we are very pleased with it," said Schloss. Carr Gottstein operates 16 Carrs Quality Centers and nine smaller Eagle Quality Centers. All have video rental.
Like Carr Gottstein's other video departments, it is combined with photo processing, cameras and the sale of electronic items like televisions, VCRs and boom boxes. Because of space and design constraints, it is located in the back of the store. Whenever possible, the retailer will move the presentation to the front, said Schloss.
"We enlarged the video rental space and put in a larger selection of DVD and sell-through video, as well as video related items," he said.
The second remodeled department was completed last month in the retailer's Eastgate store in Anchorage. This department was moved to the front, to customers' left as they enter the store, said Schloss. It is near the bakery-deli and the snack bar.
"We wanted it to have maximum exposure within that store and this was a high traffic area. That's a dramatic change from where it was, hidden in a far back corner," he said. This department, which is not live with the actual tapes behind a service counter, has more than doubled in size, from 1,500 tapes to over 3,500, said Schloss.
"The move and remodeling has made a clear difference in video revenues. Sales are already up in the double digits for the video rental department, and the store remodel is not even complete yet," said Schloss.
The third remodeled department, in North Pole, Alaska, opened late last month. This also was dramatically enlarged, from 700 tapes to 2,500, said Schloss. The photo and electronics offerings of this department were significantly expanded, he noted.
The North Pole video department is located on the side of the store, but at a secondary entrance from a mall the supermarket is attached to. "So when you walk in from the mall, the first thing you see is that video department," he said.
Size of inventory is often overrated in supermarket video rental, noted Schloss. "It's not the number of tapes that you have, it's the ease with which customers can find the videos that they want. We've always done a great with the most current new releases, and keeping plenty of those on hand," he said.