NORWALK, Conn. -- Stew Leonard's, the two-unit retailer here noted for its innovative in-store merchandising, has trotted out a very rare ad circular to spotlight fresh foods, including holiday meals.
According to Stew Leonard Jr., president, it was only the second advertising circular Stew Leonard's has ever used.
Leonard pointed out that while the current circular is an "image-maker," in the wake of its release the two stores scored a very successful round of holiday meal sales.
"We sold more than 500 full dinners between the two stores. That's a record for us, more than double from past years," Leonard told SN.
"I think the ad helped, but it's also because people don't want to spend time in the kitchen. This area of the business is growing a lot. People came in and ordered everything they needed for dinner."
A large section in the ad listed the holiday meal items available. It was headed by a photograph of Stew Leonard's five chefs standing in a row.
A line underneath the photo and above the menu listing read, "Prepared fresh by our Culinary Institute of America-trained chefs." And a comic-strip-type blurb, designed to make it look like the chefs are speaking, said, "Your holiday meal is done and waiting for you!"
On the front page of the tabloid-size, full-color circular, a prominent spot was devoted to turkey giblet gravy, home-style chestnut stuffing and gourmet cranberry sauce.
Above the items and their prices was a photo of Marianne Leonard, Stew Jr.'s mother, in a chef's hat. Alongside the product list was this statement,
"These are made fresh by our chefs every morning, using only the best ingredients."
Stew Leonard Jr. gave some credit to the circular for more than doubling the company's sales of Thanksgiving dinners this year.
Two phone numbers were listed for the catering department.
Leonard told SN that his company, which has never used price ads, is testing circulars for their capacity to spread the word about the stores and what they offer.
"We're experimenting with the circular as an image-maker. We had this one done just before Thanksgiving and we're still distributing it as inserts in newspapers in the New York market in addition to Norwalk and Danbury markets and it's available in the stores. The first time we did this was the week of July Fourth," Leonard added.