Progressive Grocer

FEB 2017

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February 2017 | | 37 W hen it comes to center store, it can be hard to set yourself apart, to make it exciting. At Blue Goose Market, in St. Charles, Ill., owner and President Paul Lencioni is trying to flip the script. He doesn't want to talk about customers or consumers; instead, his focus is on people. He often presents new managers with the question of how many people came in to buy a gallon of milk in the past year. e answer: none. "ey don't come in for milk," he asserts. "ey come in for what that milk is going to do for them — be an ingredient in a recipe, feed their children in the morning." You have to understand the reason that people are coming to your store before you can provide them with the products they need. Also, you have to care about them, their children and their lifestyle. "What I've always railed on in category management is, you have to manage preference," Lencioni says. "What do people want? en go ahead and fill it." His philosophy on product selection is to find the best products — specialty items — and create an experience through the product. A mistake that retailers often make is expecting those specialty items to just fall into carts without creating the experience that will make customers want those items. To create that experience, demoing is a must, Lencioni says. Blue Goose has regularly scheduled demonstration shifts to give customers the chance to try a product. To help keep the product selection in line, Lencioni focuses on fresh, healthy items that offer higher culinary excellence (not nec- essarily upscale), and he conducts a lot of focus groups. "It's a hunt," he says. "Live life as big as possible. Go find cool things. en bring them to people and show them. Take the responsibility to show people cool things on their terms, not yours. Just understand that's your role." M acey's, a banner of Associated Food Stores (AFS) operating a dozen stores in Utah, is trying to make shopping and food prep easier for customers. e stores' Dinner 1-2-3 promo- tions target Gen X and Millennial shoppers who are looking for simple dinner solutions. "We realized a lot of our shoppers are time-starved," says Josh Allen, director of center store operations for As- sociated Retail Operations, a division of Salt Lake City- based AFS. "is is a quick meal solution for them to take care of their needs." e promotion highlights an innovative center store product, typically a sauce mix, along with instructions on how to combine it with other items throughout the store to make a fast, easy meal. Macey's often offers customers a price break when they purchase all of the ingredients needed for a Dinner 1-2-3 meal. Macey's also offers a treasure aisle. "It's a destination that our guests come to where they can find all the items they need at a very low price. It truly is kind of a treasure hunt experience," Allen says. e items are rotated regularly and are often larger, family sizes of products or things that may not be typically found in a supermarket. Recent trea- sure aisle products have included fireworks for the Fourth of July and New Year's and electronics on Black Friday. Allen admits that many consumers may not find grocery shopping all that interesting, and that "this creates a fun element to the shopping experience." For sports fans, Macey's makes tailgating easy with the Tailgater Box, which includes all of the key components of a good tailgating experience — from chips to soda to candy and even some healthier alternatives like beef jerky. e box is priced at about 50 percent less than if customers purchased the items separately. Additionally, customers are even allowed to pick and choose the items, so they can cre- ate the ultimate box for their friends and family members. Center Store Blue Goose Market, St. Charles, Ill. Macey's, Sandy, Utah

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