HOUSTON -- Colorful and exciting.
These are the two adjectives Scott Silverman uses to describe a 40-foot-long candy department at a new Rice Epicurean Markets store, slated to open here Wednesday.
The department, called Sweet Street, is a first for Houston-based Rice Food Markets, which has 25 stores, nine of which operate under the Rice Epicurean Markets banner. Sweet Street is located in the back of the Champions Forest Plaza store, adjacent to floral.
Silverman, the chain's vice president of specialty foods, said the section is a "city" of acrylic towers and bins that hold 180 varieties of candy. Price points range from $2.99 to $11.99 a pound.
The towers vary in height, creating a skyline effect. At the base of each are three separate bins. Street posts, which have names like Lemon Drop Way and Gum Drop Alley, add to the metropolitan motif.
Of the 180 candies merchandised, about 40 are sugar-free chocolates. Silverman said these offerings are geared toward shoppers who have medical restrictions.
"There are about 10 million diabetics out there. And many of them have a tough time finding candy they can eat," Silverman told SN.
Though other Rice Epicurean stores carry bulk candy, the assortment is limited. It typically consists of about 20 stockkeeping units of wrapped nonchocolate confections located in the produce department.
Rice opted for a larger selection after reading about other supermarkets' success with bulk candy. At 43,000 square feet, the Champions Forest Plaza unit easily accommodated the company's plans.
"Rather than put in refrigerated space or dry groceries, we wanted something unique," said Silverman.
A Sweet Street logo is used on signs, bags used to hold candy and in the store's advertising.
Another unique aspect of the program is that selections will be available for mail order.
"We'll be able to package the candy ourselves and ship it," Silverman said.
Sweet Street supplements another candy department in the store, See's Candy, which is located up front.
Silverman said Sweet Street will not compete against the See's section, which sells items like caramels, truffles and other chocolates. Sweet Street, meanwhile, sells mostly nonchocolate confections like Gummy Bears, Jelly Belly jelly beans and gum balls.