2 BEL AIR UNITS TEST KIDS' VIDEO SECTION

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Bel Air Markets here began testing permanent sell-through sections for children's videos in two stores last month.The company also launched a three-store test of budget-priced computer software in late March, said Rick Ang, director of video operations.The retailer hopes to roll out the children's sections to the rest of its 17 stores before the summer, he said. The test sections

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Bel Air Markets here began testing permanent sell-through sections for children's videos in two stores last month.

The company also launched a three-store test of budget-priced computer software in late March, said Rick Ang, director of video operations.

The retailer hopes to roll out the children's sections to the rest of its 17 stores before the summer, he said. The test sections occupy 4 feet of linear space and hold 250 tapes of about 35 different titles, he said.

"Rather than having children's video displayed all around the store, we wanted our customers to get used to going to one place to find the titles that they want," said Ang.

One major reason Bel Air is testing the sections is the proliferation of major movies being released on a direct-to-sell-through basis, such as "The Fox and the Hound," "The Return of Jafar" and "We're Back," he said.

"We have been putting children's titles in the stores as they came out on sell-through. But looking at what came out in the fourth quarter of last year, and what will be coming out this year, that tells us that these titles are going to be coming out on a regular basis now," said Ang.

"Our intention is to put the corrugated displays on the floor when the movies first come out and then, as they wind down, we will move them to the permanent section. When they die out completely, we'll have another one ready to rotate into that space," he said.

The company also is stocking secondary titles in the section, he said. "We'll have videos in there year round, such as seasonal titles and other current releases that are not popular enough to put out on a floor display," he said.

For example, the retailer put in "Bobby's World" from

FoxVideo, he said. "We didn't think it had enough potential to put it on the floor, but we did put it on the racks for sale," said Ang.

The two test sections are located within video rental departments, but Ang hopes to put sections in Bel Air's larger stores in the main shopping area. "In the larger stores, our video rental areas are stores-within-a-store, somewhat separated from the rest of the supermarket," he said.

"We believe that when the customer enters that department, they are either done with their shopping for the day, or haven't started yet. So, when they are in that department, their mind-set is rental," he said.

"We want to get that impulse sale by being out on the main floor, so the customers will see it when they are in the buying mode and put the product in their shopping cart," said Ang.

Bel Air also is testing budget-priced computer software in three stores, said Ang. "It's just an experiment, but the profit margins are pretty good -- more than 50%. So I'm sure all the other stores will want to take it."

The software is merchandised in the main selling area of the stores "in various locations," said Ang. The test began too recently to evaluate, he noted.

The retailer is getting the software line from Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn. The line includes a variety of products, including computer games and children's educational programs, he said.

"We are getting a lot of support from the supplier. They are offering us 100% return on both damaged and unsold product," said Ang.

Computer software holds great sales potential for supermarkets, he said. "Within the next decade, you are going to see a lot of people with home computers. With the information highway coming, if you don't have a computer, it will be like not having a telephone or a television," said Ang.