Hannaford Bros.' produce departments have something in common with the local farms where its fruits and vegetables are grown: available space.
The extra room makes highlighting the stories of local farmers a snap, since produce managers simply set up large, eye-catching easel signs beside items that are farm fresh.
But that promotional approach isn't feasible elsewhere in the store — especially in grocery aisles where space comes at a premium, noted spokesman Michael Norton.
“We don't have a comparable Center Store component in-store as of yet,” he told SN.
What Hannaford does have is access to the next best thing: the Internet.
Last month, it launched the “Close to Home Vendor Map.” Accessible via a link on Hannaford.com, it allows users to see maps of each of the states in its operating areas.
Visitors can click on their home state to see green dots that represent the vendors based there. To reveal the name, city and product provided, they simply click on the dot.
In New York, Heluva Good cottage cheese, dips and sour creams are made in Arkport; Mercer's Dairy in Boonville provides frozen ice cream; and A Taste of the Adirondacks coffee comes from Morrisonville.
Visitors can also access company profiles to learn more about the stories behind these products.
For instance, Isamax Snacks' Wicked Whoopies are made in Gardiner, Maine, with all local ingredients.
“My brother actually mentioned to me, ‘Amy, you ought to sell your whoopie pies,’ and I thought he was crazy at first,” said owner Amy Bouchard.
Bouchard is glad she took her brother's advice. Her Whoopie Pies eventually gained national attention when they were added to Oprah Winfrey's O List of favorite products.
So far, feedback about the tool has been positive.
“Customers continue to express a really strong interest in local products,” Norton said.