PRINGDALE, Ark. -- Harp's Food Stores is testing the sale of videos from front-end racks positioned above the magazines in the checkout lanes, said Craig Hill, video specialist.
The retailer is now working with MGM Home Entertainment, Santa Monica, Calif., negotiating with Paramount Home Entertainment, Hollywood, Calif., and expects to roll the program out to the entire chain after the first of the year, Hill said. The test is now in 29 stores, he said. Harp's has over 40 stores. The first big title the retailer expects to focus on with the program is "Crocodile Hunter," he said.
"We started out with some titles from MGM and we are spreading them out to a lot of the stores," Hill said.
"We are redoing all our checkstands, working in movies in some of these places, especially on the magazine racks, and places like that, where it deters theft. We are also putting in a lot of security systems. The largest growing segment of grocery right now is entertainment, and we are playing into it," Hill said.
So far, customer reaction has been encouraging, he said. "Some locations have done really well. With the others, it depends on how heavily cabled the areas are, and whether or not the store is in satellite country. We have some stores going really strong on DVD where you wouldn't expect it, and other more metropolitan places that are still staying with the VHS. We've just been trying to tailor what we sell to those locations," Hill said.
About 65% of Harp's video mix is in VHS, he said. "Our customers aren't giving up those VCRs," he said.
"We are in the heart of Wal-Mart country, so we have to stay really competitive. There are a lot of people who don't like going into a supercenter, to walk across the parking lot and then all the way through the store. We don't have the buying power that Wal-Mart does, but if we can stay in the ballpark with them, people are fairly loyal to us," Hill said.