SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Community Cash Stores here plans to add high-margin bath shop sections chainwide after cleaning up nicely on a pilot program at 10 of its units. The 27-store retailer will use 4-foot sections in an effort to win more general merchandise sales from Kmart, Wal-Mart and other mass merchants, said Jim Key, the supermarket chain's nonfood direct-store buyer.
The first bath shops, called Color Your Bath, have been in place for the past several months. "They are going great," said Key. "We hope to have the section up at all stores by mid-summer. Sales are very strong and running around seven to eight turns a year."
He added that the bath shops represent "sections with 30% margins that don't have to be discounted."
Products included in the Color Your Bath mix include shower liners and hooks, a wide assortment of bath mats and a number of vanity items like cottonball holders and related fringe items, he said.
Community Cash has outfitted the bath shops in about 24 different color schemes. Hooks and shower liners are the hottest sellers, according to Key. The product mix will be updated along the way "as new color changes come out," Key said. He added, "The section could possibly grow larger if its performance continues, but I don't think you need 8 feet of the same product."
If sales warrant expanding the section, Key said, he will explore ways to increase variety in rubber tub mats, soap dishes, shower curtain liners, and cotton foam and towelette floor mats and toilet covers.
According to the retailer, the Color Your Bath merchandising concept has been used successfully by hardware retailers and mass merchants at moderately priced selections, from $1.99 to $9.99. "Now it's come over to food where it's been a strong impulse category for Community Cash," Key said. "It's been a convenience for customers. They can find these kinds of products at another retailer, but we're saving them an extra trip."
Most products are displayed on pegs, but some are merchandised along three rows of angled wire baskets placed at the bottom of the gondola. Key said the section is an added impulse item that ties in well with domestic towels.
"It's a neat display, Down the road, we could expand it [to include] wash cloths and bath towels, although we'd rather stay away from that because they are very price competitive at the mass merchandisers," Key commented.
He said, however, he'd like to introduce new general merchandise departments "that are kind of sleepy and where a need exists, yet without having to go head-to-head with Wal-Mart and Kmart on pricing."
The retailer is now looking at a new kitchen-accessory department that will offer table covers, placemats and napkins holders among some 40 stockkeeping units. That concept is to begin testing at a remodeled store in the fall. It will remain in the pilot mode for about two months.
The chain manages to find the room for new general merchandise sections "by maximizing our selling space," said Key.