STEVENS POINT, Wis. -- Copps Corp. here has rolled out carved-to-order hot ham, literally, to all its stores, and with good sales results, said the company.
The program, called "Hot Ham Sunday," stars a roasted, boneless pit ham that's served from a custom-designed, stainless steel mobile cart. The cart is equipped with a slicer and heat lamps to keep the product warm.
At the cart, a deli associate decked out in a chef's hat slices the meat to order, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Sunday. The meat is sold by the pound at $4.49, and packed in a styrofoam container to retain as much of the heat as possible.
The chain began testing Hot Ham Sunday in selected stores several months ago and completed the rollout the Sunday before the Super Bowl.
The rollout is actually ahead of schedule, said Kurt Krahn, deli director for Copps, which owns and operates 17 supermarkets and supplies others in Wisconsin as a wholesaler.
"We had planned to get it in all the stores by the end of February, but now it's just the right time to brighten things up in the post Super Bowl depression that everybody around here seems to be experiencing," he said.
While he declined to offer specific sales figures or percentages, Krahn said sales so far have justified the labor intensiveness of the Hot Ham Sunday program and that's without any chainwide advertising.
"All the promotion so far has been in-store, with signage and a banner up front," Krahn said. The signs and banners say "Hot Ham Sunday. Stop back in the deli for your hot, freshly carved ham."
Associates make frequent announcements over the public-address system also, but "the aroma of the ham is all we need to draw people to it," Krahn said.
"We have 'ham rolls' at the cart, too. They're a Copps special; they're like a large dinner roll, big enough to make a sandwich with. If you buy a pound of ham, you get six ham rolls free. They normally go for $1.50 a six-pack in our bakeries," Krahn said.
Explaining how the idea for the hot ham program was born, Krahn pointed out that it's common for retailers in the area to feature ham on Sundays.
"This is just taking it up a level, adding some theater to it," Krahn said. The positioning of the carving cart in the store differs from store to store. In most, it's somewhere in the deli.