WESTBURY, N.Y. -- King Kullen Grocery Co. here is "counting" on a new service to increase in-store traffic.
The retailer has expanded a coin-counting machine test program to an additional 19 units.
"The machines attract customers, keep them in the store and bring in more disposable income," said Tom Cullen, vice president of government and industry relations at King Kullen.
Customers who bring in loose change receive vouchers that can be redeemed for paper cash or used to pay for purchases at the checkout lanes. "We're in a test stage to see how customers receive the machines, and whether they actually use them. If customers think it's a good service, they will remain," said Cullen. The machines were installed at an initial 17 stores late last year. They are now in operation at a total of 36 test stores, according to John Pardini, vice president of store operations. It is not yet known exactly how long the test period will last, but it will be at least several months, said Bernie Bowers, manager of communications services at Coinstar Inc., Bellevue, Wash., manufacturer of the machines.
Coinstar charges manufacturers to have 25-cent to $1 coupons for food and nonfood products dispensed from the unit. Coinstar also profits by charging customers a percentage of the transaction: 10% for pennies and 5% for silver. Supermarkets benefit by getting additional store traffic, according to Bowers.
Bowers said retailers are using window stickers to advertise the coin-counting service. The kiosks are in many other supermarket chains, including Harris Teeter, Charlotte, N.C.; Safeway, Oakland, Calif.; Quality Food Centers, Bellevue, Wash.; Raley's and its Bel Air units, West Sacramento, Calif., and Hughes Family Markets, Irwindale, Calif.