NORRISTOWN, Pa. -- Genuardi Super Markets here will co-sponsor a local baby and toddler fair, set for early September.
Genuardi will operate a 2,700-square-foot booth at the show, set up like a ministore, featuring supermarket products geared to families with infants and young children.
The fair, called the Baby and Toddler Expo, is organized by Fort Washington, Pa.-based Baby Expo, and is the first such event in the market.
Similar shows have recently been put on in other cities, such as Boston, and are attracting supermarket participation as chains increasingly recognize the need to draw attention to their baby care and food offerings, and defend their share of the business against mass merchandisers.
The concept also is a chance to build community good will. While Genuardi will dispense samples and coupons, its sponsorship of the fair is not intended as a hard sell, said a retail official.
"Genuardi's purpose is not going to be to bother them to become new customers. We're there as a sponsor to help present the show to the community," said Frank Puleo, director of nonperishables merchandising.
"We're going to set up a large informational booth. We have invited some of our vendors to be part of that with us. The vendors, as well as Genuardi's, will be giving out coupons and samples to get the customers to try some of the products that Genuardi Super Markets sells."
The 40,000-square-foot show floor will have 100 to 125 vendors, and is expected to be visited by more than 20,000 consumers. It will be held Sept. 9 to 11 at the Fort Washington Expo and Conference Center in suburban Philadelphia.
Genuardi is a primary co-sponsor for the event, along with Montgomery Publishing, a newspaper
publisher. Other sponsors are Abington Memorial Hospital; Baby Depot, a division of Burlington Coat Factory; Fox 29 television station and B 101.1 FM radio station.
Vendors at Genuardi's booth will include Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup, Gerber, Nabisco, Minute Maid, Dannon yogurt, Turkey Hill ice cream and drinks, Kimberly-Clark (Huggies), Beech-Nut and Breyers ice cream, which will give out ice cream samples from an ice cream truck.
"At our booth, it will be obvious that you will be entering the Genuardi's store. We will be occupying the four corners of our booth, giving out information, bags to take goodies home, etc. We are also planning to have a replica of our original Genuardi delivery truck there."
Some vendors, such as Gerber, will have booths on the floor. J.J. Bodine, expo coordinator for Baby Expo, told SN the show is being designed as educational, but with a fun, carnival-like atmosphere. Entertainment will include Shining Time Station -- Live! with Thomas the Tank Engine, train rides, the Philadelphia Zoo on Wheels, a petting zoo from Elmwood Park Zoo and several diaper derbies.
Puleo said Genuardi decided to participate after being asked by Montgomery Publishing to do so. He said that young families are a key customer segment at the chain. The chain will offer its shopper two-for-one-admission coupons and will heavily advertise the expo in its 23 stores.
"All of the companies that are going to be in our booth will have shelf talkers that will say 'Come and see this product at the Baby and Toddler Expo.' We will also have window signs and posters in our stores. This includes an easel poster explaining the baby expo, and what they would find there," Puleo said.