ident and chief executive officer, Pro & Sons, Ontario, Calif.
Provenzano said Pro & Sons, which operates nine Hispanic-oriented stores in the Southwest, is looking forward to a strong summer.
He said the second half is always better than the first half for operators with a Hispanic customer base. "Sales in the first half are fairly normal, but once it gets hot, we sell more beverages, including Gatorade and Capri Sun, and beer -- items that are refreshing -- and our meat sales pick up as people barbecue more, which means extra sales of briquettes, mustard and other related items."
He said the first half was "pretty much on plan -- nothing really exciting."
To increase sales, Provenzano said he is trying to create more in-store departments. For example, a store he opened in Phoenix in late June features what he calls kiosks -- small service departments that allow vendors to reach customers with their products, including one counter featuring a brand of coffee imported from Mexico that will be used to sell Hispanic lattes; a counter featuring ham and lunch meats from Mexico "to help drive deli sales," and a kiosk offering "tortas" (Mexican sandwiches). He said he also plans heavier advertising during the second half, with more radio ads and giveaways to attract shoppers, such as an offer of free backpacks for kids to get their parents into the stores.
To deal with margin pressures, Provenzano said he's looking for more nonfoods to keep customers away from Wal-Mart. During last month's product expo sponsored by his wholesaler, Unified Western Grocers, Los Angeles, Provenzano said he picked up some bargains on such nonfood items as toothpaste, mouthwash and ice chests.