HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. -- A new 61,000-square-foot ShopRite unit that opened here last month is showcasing ethnic products in an aisle signed "Kosherfest Happauge."
Kosher is a niche that store owner/designer Harry Janson decided to emphasize, based on input from focus groups. The kosher section, which takes up most of one aisle, is an exception to Janson's strategy, followed elsewhere in the store, of integrating specialty products. The section contains groceries as well as a dairy case, fresh meat case and freezer.
Janson uses "Specialty Foods" signage on most of the aisles to mark those products that might be slightly different. For example, "natural" cereals from Pacific Grain, Familia, Nature's Path and Grainfeld's are signed in the cereal aisle.
"A segment of the market wants natural foods. If I leave them next to the related items, they have a lot more exposure," Janson said.
Green plexiglass dividers between special items and mainstream groceries also call attention to these areas. Another rationale for integration is that people want to see all the choices in one category at once. "When a customer makes a purchase in the oil aisle, she has the right to see all the oils, not travel [to another aisle] if she wants an imported oil," Janson said.
On the other hand, since most shoppers in the kosher aisle are looking specifically for kosher products and do not need a point of comparison, it makes sense to keep those items together.
Janson has also integrated certain nonfood items, such as toys with cereal and coffee mugs with coffee, where appropriate, so they suggestively sell one another.
Other ethnic products are found on an International aisle, which has sections labeled German Foods, Polish Foods, International Foods, Asian Foods and Mexican Foods. In this aisle, the Specialty Foods sign is used three times, in addition to all the others. A separate aisle is devoted to pastas, sauces, oils and other Italian products, although there is no special signage.
Careful attention is paid to the beverage aisle in this ShopRite unit's design. The aisle is wide and spacious and signed with a banner that reads "Refreshment Station." Salty snacks are emphasized on an additional low-profile gondola that extends down part of the aisle, in front of the soda.
The Hauppauge store joins five other ShopRites on Long Island, a two-county region dominated by Edwards Super Food Stores, Walbaum's and King Kullen stores, all who are fiercely battling for market share. "I think ShopRite on the Island was always well received," Janson said. Wakefern Food Corp., Elizabeth, N.J., the wholesale cooperative that supplies ShopRite stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, conducted extensive market research before the store was even sited and during its construction phase, according to Janson.
"In a relatively short period of time, we've opened six stores on Long Island, all owned by different people," said Laura McCafferty, spokeswoman for Wakefern. "We have a real commitment to Long Island." Stores in Uniondale and Bay Shore, Long Island, are corporately owned. Crowds on opening day, Oct. 20, were so large that Hauppauge store personnel ran out of Price Plus loyalty-card applications, going through 6,500 of them, Janson said. One endcap featured 320-ounce bags of Goya Canilla (fancy extra long grain) Rice, $5.97 with the Price Plus card. Goya products, which Janson calls "crossover" from ethnic to mainstream, are numerous.
The new ShopRite is about five miles from a new, upscale King Kullen in Commack, and about the same distance in another direction from a newly remodeled Waldbaum's unit in Stony Brook.
The store also features a smoker for meats, cheeses and fish; cappuccino, in an espresso bar stocked with Lavazza brand Italian coffee; and a Lunch Express, which prepares food from faxed-in orders. The bakery boils and bakes its own bagels and makes its own fried doughnuts from scratch, Janson said.