HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. -- Cruising Aisle 8 (cookies, crackers), or Aisle 11 (salad dressings and condiments), customers in the new 61,000-square-foot ShopRite here can look up and see the back of a black cardboard cutout city skyline.
And what's that sound? As they round the corner and head down Aisle 9 or 10 -- the two snack and beverage aisles -- shoppers see a model train clickety-clacking along the tracks above their heads.
"It's everything to do with New York City," said Harry Janson, president and co-owner of the store, which opened last month in a suburb about 50 miles east of the city. It's about pride, he said, and about making the salty snack aisle a destination, by combining it with beverages.
The wide beverage aisle is signed "Refreshment Station," but the owners also call it Snack City, a Coca-Cola concept. Representatives of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of New York set up the train and the cityscape this month, Janson told SN. The company could not be reached for comment.
Small white lights flash around printed signs attached to shelves, reminding shoppers to "Snack With Friends," "Obey Your Thirst," "Refresh Your Family" and "Complete Your Meals." There are decals on the floor, and a refrigerated reach-in cooler serving 20-ounce drinks in the middle of the snack aisle, mounted on the gondola. It is too soon for Janson to gauge whether Snack City is increasing sales, but customers say they like it, Janson said. "It gets the customers to shop and look."
There are two trains and two skylines, on either side of the mega-beverage aisle, which is actually two aisles, separated by a low-profile display that holds a wide range of products, from dry boxed drink mixes at the far end to candy near the front end.
There are some similarities in the Hauppauge store, Janson said, to two other ShopRite stores in New Jersey that set up a snack/beverage aisle with help from Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay, its snack division. As reported in SN, cross merchandising snacks with beverages is being tested this year not only by ShopRite Supermarkets, Edison, N.J., but also by Acme Markets, Malvern, Pa., as well as by Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., in its northern California and Portland, Ore., divisions.