WAYNE, N.J. -- Grand Union Co. here is bringing customers into its bakeries and selling them more organic bread by giving them a chance to win a tour of California's Sonoma Valley wine country.
In a team-up with Alvarado St. Bakery, Rohnert Park, Calif. -- a manufacturer of certified organic whole grain breads and bagels -- Grand Union has posted signs on its stores' entrance doors promoting the sweepstakes and drawing customers to the bakery.
The chain operates more than 240 units in the Northeast, most of them with an in-store bakery.
"We've definitely seen an increase in movement since the signs about the contest went up a few weeks ago. Sales have been much heavier this month," said Bill de Brauwere, director of bakery merchandising for Grand Union.
"The product has been doing extremely well for us anyway, and doesn't seem to be cannibalizing other sales from the bakery," de Brauwere added. "It fills a very good niche for us, for those customers looking for an all-organic product."
The door signs tell customers they can pick up details and entry forms at the organic bread display in the bakery. The entry forms are available at the bread display underneath a customized sign that also promotes the sweepstakes. Consumers are not required to buy anything to participate in the sweepstakes.
Grand Union displays the prepackaged, sliced Alvarado St. Bakery bread near the in-store bakery's service counter. At a store in Montvale, N.J., for example, the rack was placed at an angle near the self-service rolls and bagels case.
In some Grand Union units, according to de Brauwere, the bread is so popular that many customers have standing orders for several loaves each week. He declined to be more specific about sales. A spokeswoman for Alvarado St. told SN that the company "expects a good store to sell at least 60 loaves a week."
Alvarado St. has teamed up solely with Grand Union for the contest, which awards the winner two nights at a Sonoma County bed and breakfast inn and a dinner at an upscale restaurant, in addition to a limo tour of the valley, which is known for its wineries. "This is the first time Alvarado St. has done a sweepstakes or contest and we're amazed at the thousands of entries that are coming in," the spokeswoman said.
Grand Union's interest in calling more attention to Alvarado St. is apparently part of a new thrust to put the spotlight on the variety of all-natural products the chain offers in its stores. The chain held a dinner event earlier this month that showed off its natural products to the consumer press.
"We were the first chain on the East Coast to introduce Alvarado St.'s bread. By now, we have it in all our stores that have bakeries; and in 25 that don't have bakeries, we sell it in the deli," de Brauwere said.