HOBOKEN, N.J. -- Kings Super Markets has opened a new store, emphasizing fresh foods and prepared meals in 7,000 square feet of selling space designed to maximize the emerging power of fresh foods as a point of differentiation in an increasingly competitive market.
In so doing, Parsippany, N.J.-based Kings joins a growing number of operators who in recent months have opened marketplace formats that are smaller than their traditional stores. The retailer is calling its new format Fresh Ideas, Kings.
"Smaller stores in close proximity to neighborhoods are the perfect way to go," said Alan Levitan, president and chief executive officer of the 23-unit chain.
The Fresh Ideas store is the first tenant in the Shipyard, a historic, low-slung brick building fronting Hoboken's Hudson Street. On either side of the Shipyard are two condo towers nearing completion; the Fresh Ideas unit will be joined by a Starbucks and a Rite Aid pharmacy, both of which are also under construction.
A balance of abbreviated service counters and self-service displays is a hallmark of the Fresh Ideas store, and is considered a customer benefit. According to Levitan, the profile of the Fresh Ideas shopper is "one who is generally time-starved, that either wants to just purchase something, take it home and eat it" or purchase minimally prepared foods to cook at home.
And in this area, Kings is using the store to introduce a new line of value-added seafood and meat entrees that are ready to cook and are merchandised in the meat/seafood department. "We think there's even a bigger market for products that are partially prepared," he said.
The seafood line, called Top of the Catch, is found at the12-foot service case along the rear wall of the store. The service area is fronted by three tiers of self-serve products. In this store, the label is joined by the tagline, "Something good is cooking in Hoboken." Among the choices SN found on opening day were salmon marinated in peach salsa for $6.92; and sea bass with pesto marinade for $12.59. Both prices were random weight. Elsewhere in the case, a container of creamy shrimp salad was available for $9.59 ($14.99 a pound), as well as packaged filets and steaks of swordfish, salmon and halibut. Shrimp and calico scallops were also part of the label offering.
Kings' value-added meats are merchandised under another new store label, A Cut Above. Choices under the label included sweet-and-sour boneless pork ribs at $4.79; boneless chicken breast coated with Montreal brand seasonings at $6.11; and butter-garlic beef kabobs $5.87. Prices here were also random weight. Other names in the self-service case, which took up the rest of the back wall next to the seafood counter, included Kings Country Farm chicken items, and the B3R natural-beef line.
Fully prepared foods still dominate this format, however -- the cases holding fresh meals, rotisserie chickens, deli meats, cheeses and refrigerated entrees and sides are situated within sight of both the front and rear entrances to the store.
A self-standing display of sale-priced Swiss Gruyere and Emmentaler cheeses greeted visitors who entered from the street. Behind it was a 12-foot walk-around case containing Kings' Meal In a Minute refrigerated entrees and side dishes. On opening day, Mexican, Italian and American were merchandised. The case also included premade sandwiches, wraps and chilled soups such as cream of broccoli. There were also several Top of the Line shrimp-based salads as well, such as Oriental shrimp and snowpea salad. The container was $4.95 ($10.99 per pound).
The service deli/meals area was adjacent to the case, running nearly 30 feet in all. Here, a 4-foot hot case held Bell & Evans rotisserie chickens, priced $2.99 a pound. On either side, refrigerated entrees and sides included platters and bowls of potato pancakes, chicken cutlets, rosemary roasted potatoes, grilled pork teriyaki ($9.99 a pound), and a variety of "homestyle" salads, which could also be found prepacked in the walk-around case.
Deli meats and cheeses are sold next in the line, in 8 feet of case. Turning a corner, a 4-foot specialty case offers chopped chicken liver, caviar, and Faeroe Island salmon for $25.99 a pound, among other things.
The last element in the deli line is a fully stocked 18-foot cheese case, offering cheeses from around the world: Gorgonzola Dulce (Italian), English Stilton, Goat Gouda and Grafton Vermont-Smoked Cheddar, to name a few. Though the case itself is self-service, its presence in the deli/meals lineup clearly demonstrates the service/self-service balance, since store associates can access the case from their work area for customer assistance.
An 18-foot salad bar is accompanied by a 4-pot hot-soup station. Sushi is merchandised from the other side of the bar, in a self-service reach-in.
Produce takes prominence along one wall under exposed brick and arched windows. Here, refrigerated organic and value-added choices are augmented by a 25-foot walk-around fresh display using wicker baskets and straw for other fruits and vegetables, including a variety of melons, which are part of a current chainwide summer promotion. Across the way, near the parking-lot entrance to the store, is a coffee alcove offering whole-bean dispensers and fresh-brewed specialty coffees. The hot-beverage service area also includes a countertop 4-foot bakery case filled with deluxe desserts such as a 7-inch Mocha cake for $14.99, and petite carrot cakes, made fresh by a Maplewood, N.J.-based specialty baker. On top and around the counter are tiered plates and jars holding muffins, biscotti, tarts and brownies. Specialty breads from Ecce Panis, Eli's, Tribeca Ovens and local Hoboken bakeries line a portion of one wall near the bakery case, next to produce.