MALVERN, Pa. -- Acme Markets here is testing several new nonfood merchandising concepts in an effort to combat the growing level of competition from chain drug and specialty outlets.
In its new 65,000-square-foot, food-and-drug combination store which opened in Voorhees, N.J., earlier this month, Acme unveiled a new bath-and-body department, a dedicated housewares set and a 70-foot-long vitamin section.
Bath and body and vitamins are part of health and beauty care, while the updated housewares presentation is displayed in the baking aisle.
Piloting these new nonfood sets will enable the chain to measure what kind of response it gets before expanding them, said Dan Zvonek, director of public and investor relations at American Stores Co., Salt Lake City, operator of the Acme division.
"We want to first test the waters at a few new stores," before slating these larger vitamin, bath-and-body and housewares aisles for other planned Acme combination food-and-drug units, said Zvonek.
Referring to the expanded bath-and-body section, Zvonek said "Acme is always looking at ways to strengthen the HBC area. What we do is try a concept in new stores in certain locations on a test basis, and then see what kind of response we get."
The approximately 865-square-foot bath-and-body section is located in the last third of the store layout between HBC and greeting cards, opposite floral.
Creating a large bath-and-body product mix is also Acme's response to the growth of bath-and-body shops and drug chains, according to the American Stores spokesman.
"Acme's large food-and-drug combination stores compete for bath-and-body products with chain drug stores," Zvonek said. He observed this heightened competition for bath-and-body sales dollars while in the Voorhees area to attend the Acme opening.
During a visit to an area Thrift Drug there Zvonek said he noticed an"upgrading of its bath-and-body products with larger, dedicated sets." Acme's has arranged its bath-and-body department with some 600 to 800 stockkeeping units merchandised on glass shelving and display cabinets along the right side. Cosmetics take up the full 48-foot-long left side of the section.
Shoppers entering the carpeted bath-and-body area from the front or rear also browse among 6-foot-long display tables and freestanding 6-foot-high wooden cabinets and shelf fixtures positioned at the section's midpoint.
Several wooden barrels and crates placed near the freestanding fixtures hold additional selections such as gift-packs priced up to $22.35. Price points begin as low as 79 cents for bath sponges.
Acme's bath-and-body center kicked off with opening specials that included a four-pack of Kneipp herbal bath for $6; Conair Classic wood brushes, two for $7; Yardley bath crystals, 1 ounce carton, two for $3; San Francisco aromatherapy natural body wash, 6-ounce package, two for $7; loofah pads, $1; and McAuley's Naturals shampoo, gel or lotion, 8-ounce package, two for $3.
Vitamin header signs direct shoppers to the assorted products merchandised on 4- to 6-foot wooden fixtures set against the left perimeter wall near pharmacy. Vitamins are segmented according to adult, multivitamins, minerals, herbal, energy, lifestyle, nutritional, natural remedies and other specific vitamin types. Vitamins promoted in the weekly circular included Theragram regular or Multivitamins, 130-count package, $6.99; Osco private-label vitamin C, 500-mg, 100-count package, $1.99; Caltrate chewable calcium supplement, 60-count package , $4.99; Osco beta carotene, 15-mg, 100-count package, $1.99; Osco selenium, 100-count package, $5.99; and Propalmex saw palmetto, 30-count package $9.99.