SEATTLE -- Queen Anne Thriftway here is shedding new light on its bakery items.
The two-unit independent, which is building a new store in Tacoma, plans to use special lighting at the new unit to highlight its scratch-baked bakery offerings.
The retailer recently hired a lighting specialist for its stand-alone retail bakery with results strong enough to warrant a lighting plan for the new supermarket, said Terry Halverson, co-owner. "We told the lighting specialist we wanted our products to be the first thing customers see when they walk through the door, and now they are," Halverson said of the retail bakery.
In addition to its retail sales, the bakery supplies Queen Anne's supermarkets here and will supply the new Tacoma store.
"We'll be incorporating some of the special lighting and contrast ideas in Tacoma to show off bakery items. We've already hired a lighting specialist," Halverson said.
The 24,000-square-foot Tacoma store, now under construction, will have a service bakery counter, a first for Queen Anne, which is known for its strong self-service merchandising. At the company's retail bakery, the lighting literally spotlights items, leaving the background, by contrast, in relative dimness or darkness.
"Customers' eyes stay down and go right to the display case in front of them because light isn't reflecting all over the place," Halverson said. "For example, we put in a darker floor that absorbs more light, rather than reflecting it. We also took out all ceiling lighting." The ceiling has been painted a deep plum color and the walls, formerly off-white, are now a more light-absorbing mottled gold. New display cases with non-glare glass also get the customer's eyes to products quicker, Halverson said. The cases have three shelves lighted individually with warm-spectrum fluorescent lights aimed at bringing out the reds and yellows in the products, Halverson said. The display cases that came with the bakery when Queen Anne Thriftway bought it a few years ago were unlighted, straight-sided rectangles.
"Now, when you enter the door, you're looking straight at our whole variety of products. You used to have to look down through the top of the case to really see everything," Halverson said.
A large variety of scratch-baked breads is displayed, as it was before, on open shelves behind the service counter. The difference is the breads visually "pop out" because their golden color contrasts with the shelves, which are painted a flat-finish medium shade of plum. Previously, they had a natural, light oak finish, very near the shade of the breads. Low-watt individual, incandescent light bulbs on the back wall are angled at the loaves on the shelves. The low wattage keeps them from getting hot enough to dry out the bread, Halverson said.
The lighting changes were part of a recent remodel of the small, French-type bakery. Other changes included new display cases, and bright, scalloped awnings. The lighting scheme, Halverson said, is what has contributed the most to a big boost in business because it attracts people to the whole variety of products.
Within weeks of the refurbishing, the stand-alone bakery's customer count is up by nearly 200 a week to about 2,000, and sales per customer visit also are up slightly from a previous average of $6, said Halverson.
Lighting changes could later be made at the retailer's flagship store in the Queen Anne section of Seattle, but for the moment a long-planned remodel there is on hold, Halverson said. Various community boards have been slow to approve all the changes slated for the store, which is situated in a densely populated, upscale neighborhood, he explained.