KULPSVILLE, Pa. -- Clemens Markets here has hit the road with the Clemens Sampling Trolley, a customized food-service trailer used for product sampling and advertising.
A replica of an old-fashioned trolley, it travels to a different Clemens store each Friday and remains through Monday. It is parked in front of each store building, when zoning allows, or in the closest two parking spaces near the store, according to Chriss Ruth, administrative manager of procurement and merchandising for Clemens, a 19-store operator.
The vehicle is used to distribute samples for a rotating group of manufacturers. For the first quarter, participating manufacturers include Herlocher Foods, a manufacturer of dipping mustard; Quaker Oats Co.; Tasty Baking Co., the manufacturer of Tastykake snack cakes; and Herr Foods. Several of these companies, along with the Coca-Cola Co., are also advertisers.
"The trolley allows our vendors a new-and-improved avenue to introduce products to our customers," Ruth told SN.
At the same time, it's a unique and upscale sampling experience for Clemens customers. Consumer response has been excellent, she added.
"The presence of the trolley at the store creates excitement. The sampling experience is fun for all ages," said Ruth, noting that children enjoy walking through the trolley.
The vehicle is branded with a large Clemens sign on top, with the Clemens Customer Choice Card logo, along with logos from participating manufacturers, on the side.
Clemens operates the trolley in partnership with Executive Dining Cars, Valley Forge, Pa., which also provides trolleys for weddings, corporate events and other occasions.
The program is funded by the participating manufacturers, according to Anthony Aquilante, president, Executive Dining Cars. Vendors can sign on for 3 months, 6 months or one year. The program costs nothing to Clemens, which has the option to renew the program in January 2004, Aquilante said.
Clemens has regional exclusivity through 2004, although the concept is available to retailers in other parts of the country. Other supermarket chains have already voiced interest, according to Aquilante.
Clemens introduced the trolley to shoppers via its Web site, www.clemensmarkets.com.
Its next stops are Clemens' Lansdale East, Pa., store, where it will visit from March 7-10, and the Lansdale West store, March 14-17.