"Passion" could be the hot word in specialty stores, like Mollie Stone's, Burlingame, Calif., which emphasizes Passions and Essentials, according to owner David Bennett. Or Kings Super Markets, Parsippany, N.J., which says "Passionate About Food" on its grocery bags and receipts.
Maurice and Elizabeth Gardner Adams, owners of Gardner's Market, Miami, say passion "is a key thing for us." "It's not on our bags, passion, but it is there," said Maurice Adams, the president of the company. His wife is the third-generation chief operating officer of the four-store family business that was founded in 1912.
Asked how Gardner's sets itself apart, Maurice Adams replied that the "Five P's" in supermarkets (the right product, place, promotion, packaging and position) are too impersonal and detached. Maybe there is a more subjective and emotional way to think about specialty foods as the core of your grocery department, he told SN. Here are what they call the five "In"s in specialty foods.
1. Inform your customers of why you have this new product, what is good or exciting about it, and have a person enthusiastically sampling this product, in the context of a complete dish or meal. "If it's a pasta, add a specialty olive oil, your own good bread, and a specialty wine you want to feature, one that really goes with the meal," Maurice Adams said.
2. Initiative -- as in, take the initiative with new products. If you are the best in specialty foods, you have to have the new and exciting items long before the chains do. Often, you have to go find these products.
3. Involve your grocery department in the selection and promotion of these items. They need to go to food shows, try the products, help develop the promotions, and must really like and believe in what they are selling.
4. Ineffective products, ideas and personnel must be weeded out.
5. Inspire passion in your employees, your store, your other departments, and thereby your customers, he said, with your passion for specialty foods.
There is no secret about these things, Adams said. "The hard part is getting the [employees] to buy into it, and to do it."