STEVENS POINT, Wis. -- Copps Corp. here has "bulked" up its candy business to the tune of more than 300 items.
According to Mimi Peck, grocery buyer, Copps introduced a bulk candy department in its newest store in Appleton, Wis. Three other existing stores also have been outfitted with the section.
Executives at the 18-store chain scoped out bulk candy programs in other markets and decided they should give it a go, Peck said. "We always thought bulk was a good idea, so we put it in our Appleton store because that's where we're trying [new] things."
The hope is to create more of a demand for bulk candy in that market as well as provide an alternative to the higher-priced specialty bulk stores.
With approximately 350 bins in a two-and-a-half gondola department and 320 stockkeeping units of wrapped and unwrapped candy, Copps is in the process of determining an appropriate amount of inventory.
"What we're really doing is testing to see how much is too much," said Peck. "We think it's being accepted by consumers, but maybe there are things we can do better. For instance, we're thinking of possibly making it a service department. It would be similar to the floral department, with a person assigned to monitor and sell the candy."
Currently, Peck said, there's a staffer in charge of keeping the area neat and clean and the bins filled. However, a move to a service department arrangement would have the section running in the same manner as when the store opened.
"The first couple of weeks we
had someone standing there weighing and helping people in order to introduce them to the department. But now it's really self-service. So there are things we feel we have to do different, but we're not sure."
Since the bulk candy department's implementation in June, Copps has added it to three other stores with different-sized sections. "We never have the luxury of space," said Peck. "The stores were already built, so we're taking the space where we can."
Since the Appleton store's bulk candy department was designed on the store's drawing board, it is situated in the middle of the store, adjacent to greeting cards. Thus, it receives traffic flow from both sides, Peck noted.
Customers visiting the department can chose from a variety of products ranging in price from $1.89 to $7.99 a pound. "I'm working on an overall margin percentage," said Peck.
Top-selling candy -- which is delivered direct and not warehoused -- includes chocolate items, kids' novelties such as jawbreakers, and some jelly bean items.
"We've also been doing a moderately good job with the sugar-free," said Peck. "We have some ideas about getting the word out that we have an extensive variety of sugar-free because what we're trying to do is get the business of the specialty bulk stores into our stores. We want to actually make it a destination, where people will say, 'Oh, they have everything. We'll go to Copps.' "