NORTH TAZWELL, Va. -- Acme Markets here has begun to update its general merchandise offering in an effort to boost nonfood sales about 3%.
Among departments being recast are pet supplies, greeting cards, baby general merchandise and bath and body. According to Steve Mitchell, vice president of marketing and merchandising of the 30-store chain, most of these products had been offered "in small smatterings or absent from the item lineup. But we now intend to create a new, more definitive nonfood image for our stores." Nonfood updates will be made during remodels over the next 2 to 3 years, added Mitchell.
Acme's initial efforts to make a stronger statement in general merchandise and health and beauty care began this past fall at three stores, acquired from other chains in the Fayetteville, N.C., market. The retailer reopened a former Lowe's Foods this fall, and plans grand opening events later this month at two former Kroger stores that will fly the Acme banner.
The Fayetteville nonfood sets include a 76-foot-long Gibson Greetings card and partyware department, positioned close to the front of the store, and a 12-foot inline bath and body section that contains 128 stock-keeping units with items priced from $5 to $21.
Acme is taking a closer look at expanding vitamins and supplements in the natural and organic foods section at the Fayetteville stores. Vitamins in particular continue to offer solid sales opportunities for the chain, said Mitchell. "The category is growing in leaps and bounds," he added. Up until now, Acme has stocked a limited variety of generic vitamins. However, the retailer is contemplating adding a full variety.
Bath and body is a relatively new category for the retailer. "We're just getting into it. The products still offer good potential and sales have not yet reached their apex in this category," said Mitchell.
A comprehensive assortment of pet supplies, baby care and family legware also made their debut in 20- to 24-foot sections at the Fayetteville stores.
The retailer will devote more ad space to nonfood promotions to spark its sales. It will also intensify its focus on seasonal to a greater extent. "We'll emphasize the major holidays, summer events and back-to-school -- areas that we haven't done a good job with in the past," the Acme executive explained.
Acme also operates a 6,000-square-foot True Value hardware franchise at its Chilhowie, Va., store, and could expand the franchise to other stores in the company. "If the opportunity presents itself, we wouldn't rule this out," Mitchell stressed, adding the Chilhowie store's location "off an interstate has no competition from other hardware stores."
The level of competition from other hardware dealers near its other stores, however, is an issue in deciding to expand the program, the retailer said.
In addition to the refocus, Acme has become more active with promotional continuities. Miniature tall wooden sailing ships retailing at $7 to $21 are now being promoted through mid-January. The products are moving off the shelf as gifts, Mitchell said. Another holiday-themed continuity are Christmas dolls, priced from $5.89 to $17, which also are selling well.