SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- There's no question that something big is going on with sandwiches this month at a unit in the Springfield, Mo., division of Dillon Stores.
For the retailer's annual deli promotion, "August Is Sandwich Month," the company created a 300-foot submarine sandwich, promoted it heavily and announced that proceeds from selling chunks of the sub would go to a local Girl Scout council whose club house was destroyed by fire last winter.
Three hundred pounds of deli meats and 40 pounds of American cheese were used in the monster sub, which was displayed on a length of folding tables formed at the end of the produce aisle, just before the service deli counter at the back of the store.
The sandwich was made from separate loaves of store-baked French bread. The ends of the loaves were cut off so they could be fitted together to look like one long sandwich, said Jodie Greer, director of deli and bakery for the 21-unit division, whose parent company is Kroger Co., Cincinnati.
Bakery staffers started baking the loaves at 2 a.m. the day before the sandwich was to be assembled. Then deli staffers and vendor representatives took over to make the sandwich. Serving time was limited to two hours, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6. The time frame was in keeping with guidance from the local health department. Also, in order to keep the sandwich's stability and make it appealing to the largest number of people, no condiments were added. It contained honey ham, turkey, roast beef, pepperoni, American cheese and shredded lettuce. The day before the sandwich was served up, teasers were aired on five local radio stations during morning and evening rush hours. One station did a broadcast of its morning talk show from the store on the morning of the event, which helped bring people in.
"By 11 o'clock, we had about 20 people waiting for a piece of the sub," Darci Armstrong, deli manager at the store, told SN.
Also, signs in the store's window informed customers all week that a surprise event was scheduled. Vendor support allowed the division to offer the sandwich at 6 inches for $1 and 12 inches for $2. "We had people buying several because it was such a good value. And several customers gave us $4 or more even though they only bought one sandwich. They said they just wanted to contribute to the Scouts," Armstrong said.
Only about 40 pieces of sandwich were left by 1 o'clock. "But we had sold all the rest of it in just two hours," Armstrong said. Leftovers were donated to a local organization that provides food for the needy.
Greer said that the division's sub program has been growing steadily. "We've been making subs for years, but the program really started to move when we began to use see-through containers about two years ago." The subs are made on plain-topped, sourdough rolls baked off in store, and packed in clam-shell containers. Each store offers 11 varieties, all priced at $2.29 for seven-inch and $3.99 for foot-long sandwiches.
"We believe one price for all is best because it's less confusing for us and for the customer," Armstrong said. "If you have a whole lot of different prices, the customer will spend time trying to decide on price, and then may just walk away." She said she sells about 45 subs a day from the self-service case, and also does a brisk business with made-to-order sandwiches at the deli counter.
She said the division foresees so much growth in subs that it will be adding at least four more varieties this year.