After West Point enhanced its bagel program with a boiled variety six weeks ago, bagel unit sales doubled and are expected to triple by the end of the year, said Russell Vernon, president of the upscale, single-unit West Point.
"And they're 59 cents. We sold our previous bagels for three for a dollar. Price has nothing to do with it," Vernon said. "What's important is that we have the best bagel in town. People tell us that they're coming here specifically for our bagels now."
Vernon said that in addition to quality, presentation gets some of the credit for the sales increase.
"We decided to show the new bagels off in a new way. So we had some merchandisers made. If you can picture a dowel on a base, we thread the bagels on those. Each dowel holds about a dozen. They're in the service case like that. They look great," he said.
The selection of flavors includes cinnamon raisin, pumpernickel, rye, egg, plain, salt, poppy seed, sesame, onion and garlic.
Previously, West Point had a bake-off bagel line produced by a local manufacturer. Those bagels were not subjected to the bathing or boiling process, like true New York bagels are. The new line is boiled, parbaked and flash frozen, and then is finished in-store.
"The quality of the new product is so much better. They set us apart. We make a big thing of letting people know these are real New York-style bagels. The bagels we had before were sold everywhere -- in drug stores, newstands," Vernon said. Since the bagels have already become destination products, Vernon said he thinks word-of-mouth advertising is going to boost sales further as time goes on.