PHOENIX -- Reading materials are an integral part of the retailing culture at Wegmans Food Markets, said Heather Pawlowski, vice president, general merchandise.
While the Rochester, N.Y., company's Reading Centers are a core component of its "Street of Shops," Wegmans also uses magazines and books for promotions, cross merchandising and employee relations, Pawlowski told the Retail Conference of the Magazine Publishers of America, New York, here this month.
"Reading provides us an opportunity to keep our customers engaged each time they come into our store," Pawlowski said.
"Our featured magazine endcaps are planogrammed monthly and are a tool to draw customers into the mainline section. They are a great vehicle for new launches and holiday programs to help increase sales and awareness," she said.
Wegmans' book and magazine promotions, along with its mainline sections and checkout displays, have been recognized by the MPA's Best Practices Awards, and this year with the retailer's induction as the first member of the group's Retail Best Practices Hall of Fame.
Book signings, like ones featuring Mary Higgins Clark, an event with cooking show host and author Sara Moulton, drew large crowds to Wegmans stores, Pawlowski noted. Last year, the retailer brought Jane Grantham, editor of Bride's Magazine, to Rochester for an event that attracted over 200 brides-to-be. "This included a wedding planning seminar, along with information from Wegmans' Tastings restaurant, catering, floral, bakery, and Complements housewares and gift shop," Pawlowski said.
Tying in with Self magazine, Wegmans held an event for employees that included free health screenings, healthy eating tips by the company's registered dietitians, exercise advice from its fitness center staff, as well as product samplings, take-away information and gift bags from various store departments, she said.
"We feel that for any department or category in our store to be successful, we have to find its connection to our corporate goals," Pawlowski said. This can take the form of cross merchandising in fresh food areas of the store, she noted.