SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- Although retailers here were selling Disney's hotly anticipated "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" classic the day before the official Oct. 28 release date, some were clearly confused about when they could put the title out.
Disney's release date policy is different from other studios in that retailers can get the product on a will-call basis and sell it a few days before its official release date. In the case of "Snow White," the product was available to retailers Oct. 25. Although they could sell it then, they were prohibited from advertising its availability prior to the Oct. 28 release date.
Some retailers appeared cautious in merchandising "Snow White," especially after all the publicity surrounding the blatant street-date violations surrounding the Oct. 4 release of MCA/Universal's "Jurassic Park."
"There was so much said about the violation of street date on 'Jurassic Park' that everyone is really watching what they are doing," said Amy Innerfield, a video industry analyst with Alexander & Associates, New York. VSDA held a street date summit Oct. 14 that resulted in a great deal of publicity and Disney representatives issued strong warnings to some retailers not to put "Snow White" out early, according to multiple industry sources. Following its experience with "Jurassic Park," MCA/Universal Home Video, Universal City, Calif., announced that it would go to a two-date system for "The Flintstones." The original release date of Nov. 8 will now be an advertised availability date; the previous Friday, Nov. 4, becomes the will-call date. A visit to two supermarkets and six other retail formats in this southern California city with a population of more than 200,000 revealed that some retailers were holding back on full merchandising of the classic until the official release date. At the case of two supermarkets, employees appeared to be confused about when the title could or should be sold.
A Lucky Supermarket, at 450 Red Lands Ave., did not have "Snow White" on the floor, but was selling it for $16.99 from behind a customer service counter to customers who requested it.
The store's only video consisted of a few small in-and-out shippers of children's sell-through, located near the periodical section at the front of the store. There was no evidence the store was carrying or selling "Snow White."
When asked, a checkout clerk said the store had "Snow White," but couldn't sell it until the next day, Oct. 28. However, a Lucky store supervisor said to a customer, "We won't make anyone wait for it," and pulled the video from behind the service counter.
Stores in the area were advertising that "Snow White" would be available for sale on Oct. 28.
In the Los Angeles market, Albertson's was running radio spots on Oldies FM-station 101.1-KRTH, urging customers to reserve copies of "Snow White" for the Oct. 28 release.
Customers shopping at an Albertson's at the Colton Courtyard Plaza, 1250 Washington Ave., in San Bernardino, couldn't miss the fact that "Snow White" had arrived. A large "Snow White" display with banners was at the store's front entrance. The product was being sold inside the store for $16.99 from a display in the middle of the service section at the front of the store.
However, when asked if the product was for sale, a clerk said, "We got it in a day early." Disney's "Muppet Classic Theater," released at the same time as "Snow White," was being merchandised with "Snow White" at the same price.
Albertson's also ran a full-page "Snow White" ad in its in-store supplement. A "Snow White" coloring contest for children age 4 to 12 was run prior to the release date. A $5 cash prize was awarded to one winner in each of four age groups.
Among drug stores, supermarkets, mass merchandisers and an independent specialty video store, Long's Drug, 800 Tri City Center Drive, which had a 99-cent video rental department, was the highest-priced of stores checked at $19.99 for "Snow White." However, a clerk was quick to point out that the video would go on sale Oct. 28 for $16.99.
The $16.99 sale price was advertised in an in-store supplement, which also feature "Snow White" licensed goods such as Applause PVC and vinyl plush figures,
framed poster art, Timex watches, coloring books and Goody hair accessories.
The price points at $16.99 and $16.95, which is the minimum advertised price for "Snow White," were the most popular at stores checked.
Both Wal-Mart, 2050 Redlands Ave., and K-mart, 1625 Redlands Ave., sold the video at $16.95.
Wal-Mart featured a large shipper placed outside its electronics/video department that merchandised "Snow White" and other Disney products such as "Muppet Classic Theater," $15.96; "Aladdin" and "Pinocchio," $16.76; "Lion King" CD, $9.46, and "Lion King," Read Along, Sing Along 24-page book/tape, $4.97.
Inside the electronics department was a large case stacking of "Snow White," and it was featured as a counter display.
Although K-mart merchandised the classic from a small display within its sell-through video and music department along with a collector's edition-gift set and cap for $26.97, the mass merchandiser also placed five facings of the product in an attractive dedicated Disney Music & Video section. It also merchandised "Snow White" from a Disney Music & Video side-aisle display by the checkout registers.
Video Wiz, 10 Washington Ave., in the same Colton Courtyard Plaza as Albertson's and Payless Drug, featured a large "Snow White" display without any of the product. However, the video was being merchandised from a small counter display for $16.79. "We have it at the lowest price in area," a store employee told a customer.
However, the lowest on "Snow White" was found at a Sam's Warehouse Club, East Harriman, for $16.18.
The video was featured in large case stackings. Placed within the stackings, a video monitor was playing excerpts from "Snow White." An equally large case stacking of "Muppet Classic Theater," priced for $12.98, was featured across the aisle from the "Snow White" display.