AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Randalls Food Markets used its sponsorship of the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival to highlight the regional wines it carries.
Many of the wines were cross merchandised with the floral department in special gift baskets, said Kathy Schwartz, public relations director of the Houston-based chain's Austin Division here.
"We had a nice display with Texas bluebonnets and Texas wines. We had wine gift baskets that the floral department made using those wines," Schwartz told SN.
This is the first time Randalls has participated in the annual event, held at a fairground here last month.
"This first year was an experiment for us, but I think it was a successful experiment and we want to build on it for next year," Schwartz said.
Though Randalls primarily used the event to tout its floral and catering departments, wine also played a key role. Many local wineries displayed and sampled their wares at the festival and Randalls highlighted those displayed at the festival in its stores.
"We had store displays that showed various Texas wines or wines featured at the festival. And we had shelf tags on the different wines," Schwartz said. Also, above some of the special features the retailer had 8.5-by-11-inch signs that said, "This wine featured at the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival." The signs explained if the wine had won any awards at last year's festival. The signs used the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival logo.
At the festival, Randalls promoted wine baskets created by its floral department.
"The displays got a lot of attention because the floral department did very beautiful wine baskets, and worked with our wine representatives," Schwartz said. "The wine vendors were very supportive of working with our store managers and our floral department to say this is the wine featured and it would go well with this type of food. They really helped them figure out what to merchandise. That relationship was real important."
In its North Austin prototype store, which opened in December, Randalls has placed the wine department next to the floral department to increase cross-merchandising opportunities for the two categories, Schwartz told SN.
"The whole idea was that when you come into that store, if you want a quick gift like wine and flowers you are all set," she said.
"The whole cross merchandising aspect has been very successful and that worked very naturally for the Hill Country display. You are already in the floral department and if you need a bottle of wine or champagne or a card you are all set. In another one of our stores, those three departments are in another part of the store," she explained.
"What is real interesting about the store is that everything is mobile. Any department can be moved within a day to another area. We have all of the plumbing and electrical in the gridwork suspended from the ceiling, so we can plug in lights anywhere. We're not bound by the physical structures that lot of stores are," she added.