SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- Price Chopper Supermarkets here, and Victory Super Markets, Leominster, Mass., have upgraded the fixturing in their 800-item kitchen shops and are expanding and fine-tuning variety to boost volume further.
The fixture changes better position the chains' sections in a department-store merchandising scheme with stock displayed on open shelving. The changes took place last month at Victory's 48-foot Market Square Kitchen at three stores, and Price Chopper's 96-foot Kitchen World at two units. Both chains declined to comment about their kitchen shop formats.
However, Michael Sleeper, president of Imperial Distributors, Auburn, Mass., the retailers' supplier, explained that "the [fixture] enhancements encompass several refinements."
A formica and plastic molded unit in simulated oak wood, with chrome shelving and high gloss black and stainless steel accents, replaced the former wooden display fixture. The merchandise is arranged with boxed Items on the first several shelves, and products displayed on upper shelving for customers to examine. Gadgets are pegged against a grid background on the upper half of the fixture.
In the case of Victory, the kitchen program is merchandised on two 24-foot sets in two grocery aisles, while Price Chopper arranges the department on four 24-foot sets in four adjacent grocery aisles. According to Imperial, Victory plans the section for three to four more stores in the next six to seven months.
While the original wooden fixture did have "a department-store look, the new one has a more open look to it," said Don Polsi, Imperial's vice president of marketing for general merchandise.
The kitchen shops are merchandised in grocery aisles that in some cases tie into product areas like international and ethnic foods.
Imperial also is focusing more on the seasonal nature of the category. It has scaled back 12 to 16 feet of dedicated space devoted to bakeware, which sells mostly in the fourth quarter, and made room for faster-turning selections like picnic and patio serveware. "We'll fill this space instead with higher demand seasonal kitchenware skewed for indoor or outdoor use. It sells better than bakeware during summer," Polsi said.
The distributor also widened the variety of gadgets with additional stainless steel and soft-grip handle styles. Ceramic serveware also is being updated with new styles and designs to flag customer interest. "It's a category that must change, and that's what Macy's, Bed, Bath and Beyond and the mass merchants do to increase customer interest in these products," Polsi commented.
To be successful with upscale kitchen-oriented general merchandise, supermarkets "need to mirror department stores," he stressed. Moreover, he pointed out, today's consumers want higher-quality general merchandise. Items contained within the sections are priced from $2.99 up to $89.99 for coffee machines.