AUSTIN, Texas -- An Albertson's Village Market here is offering shoppers an extraordinary array of choices in its bulk candy department.
Items are displayed in Candy City -- as the section is named -- which is located in a corner between the produce and meat departments, at the beginning of the shopping pattern, SN discovered in a recent store visit. Officials from Albertson's, Boise, Idaho, declined comment.
The 1,000 square-foot section houses 450 stockkeeping units of candy, grains, spices, nuts and dried fruit, according to an industry source, who requested anonymity. The 350 bins contain a vast assortment of candy, including gels, gum balls, jelly beans, hard candies, upscale chocolates, nationally-branded items and sugar-free products, the source added.
The bins are arranged in a horseshoe formation against the perimeter wall. Nuts, dried fruits, cereals and popcorn fill displays on the left wall, while other candies dominate the upper back tier. A source familiar with the chain said about 50 bins are dedicated to jelly beans.
Three, freestanding island displays make up the center of the horseshoe. One is dedicated to peas and beans, while the remaining two merchandise chocolate and sugar-free confections, respectively.
The sugar-free showcase, which consists of roughly 40 acrylic bins, features chocolate products on one side, and nonchocolate items on the opposite side.
Prices of items vary. Branded and upscale items tend to be more expensive. For example, Reese's Pieces cost $3.39 per pound, and Jordan Almonds sell for $4.49 a pound. Generic, traditional items such as starlight mints carry a retail price of $1.39 per pound.
The section is self-serve, although a store employee is present to answer questions, give guidance and maintain the section. Individual scoops, attached to each bin, enable customers to gauge the amount of product they want.
Because of the adjustments in price, only one variety of confection is allowed per bag. Customers are responsible for processing their own price tickets. They place their full bags on an electronic scale, punch in the corresponding bin number for the selected candy and a price sticker prints out.
Customers cannot key in bin numbers that carry cheaper prices because the stickers include both the prices and names of the products being purchased, she explained. Cashiers inspect each bag and have familiarized themselves with the prices of some of the more popular items, the source said.
A store-level associate who was maintaining the section when SN visited said an employee's presence in the section helps cut down on shrinkage. She said the store permits customers to taste small samples, not handfuls.