POULSBO, Wash. (FNS) -- The scope of organic-produce offerings has been increased at the Nakata Thriftway's Market Place unit here, a shift that required repositioning the section within the three-year-old store so the organic items could be merchandised as a group, in keeping with the chain's organic- produce practice.
angle and a globe. Chalk boards hanging in the aisle are used to further identify the expanded offerings and redirect customers to "look behind you" for the organic items.
The Nakata group introduced organic produce in its units many years ago. "We were fortunate to have on staff a dedicated individual who saw organics as an opportunity and a benefit and she was able to focus on that area," said Larry Nakata, vice president.
"We thought there was a need and we did a little and then we did a little more and did more as our customers started to regularly buy the items."
Inspiration may have led the chain into organics, but dedication has kept it there. Each department still has a resident organic-produce person assigned to that subdepartment. While the profit and loss may be combined in calculating total produce sales, each section -- conventional and organic -- is separately managed.
"The people we have working on organics are specialists. We get better results that way," said Nakata.
Rather than an "us-vs.-them" posture, these specialists are carefully cultivated to serve as a bridge between the conventional-produce items and the organic selections. "We don't see a conflict, we see an evolution," said Nakata.
"We feel that organic produce will continue to grow," he said. Indeed, organics have enjoyed double-digit annual growth, he said. "The sales do support the program, but there is a deeper purpose in offering organics. That's not to say that one is better than another. However, it is our obligation to offer choices for our customers. As long as there is a real need, we will try to fill it."