BASHAS' TO REPEAT ART EVENT THAT HAD BEAUTIFUL VOLUME

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Bashas' Markets, based here, plans to repeat in January a premium- priced framed-art promotion that achieved high sell-through during a fall sale.According to Jeff Manning, vice president of general merchandise, the decision to reschedule the high-ticket art sale soon after the October-November promotion was based on customer demand."I was shocked at how quickly this expensive artwork

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Bashas' Markets, based here, plans to repeat in January a premium- priced framed-art promotion that achieved high sell-through during a fall sale.

According to Jeff Manning, vice president of general merchandise, the decision to reschedule the high-ticket art sale soon after the October-November promotion was based on customer demand.

"I was shocked at how quickly this expensive artwork sold," said Manning. Stores either sold out all 40 pieces of the higher-priced art or scored 70% sell-through.

Shopper demand for the merchandise came from local sales rather than the tourist trade, which in the fall is considered off-peak. "These were local sales and not tourists or snow birds. I think customers used to paying several hundred dollars more for comparable art recognized it as a good value," Manning said.

Some 30 Bashas' stores in higher-income communities that did best with the high-ticket art are slated to feature the upscale artwork again, according to Fine Arts Industries, Denver, the supplier. The products carry a 40% profit margin.

The pricier artwork, with retails running between $49 and $150, was merchandised along with regularly priced framed art that was priced up to $19.99.

"Supermarkets usually run framed-art promotions six to eight months apart, but this is expensive framed gallery-type art with longer appeal," said Alan Levin, president of Fine Arts.

The 18- by 24-inch and 22- by 28-inch prints come finished in black gloss, white enamel and cherry oak frames. Fast-turning subjects included sports-oriented and Southwestern themes, including cowboys and desert scenes.

The supplier customizes the framed-art mix to store demographics. Subject matter and product appearance are critical in selling more costly artwork to consumers in supermarkets, said Levin.

In retirement areas like Sun City, older movie stars, landscapes, wildlife and Western scenes are popular subjects, said Levin.

Levin said the Phoenix area has become one of the leading regions in the nation for art sales. "It's become a hotbed for art buying, especially with the snow birds that winter in Arizona and New Mexico and who buy a lot of art."

"This kind of product is geared toward home decor and appeals to people that live around your store. It can be a good promotion any time, not just tied into a holiday or time of year," commented Manning.

Bashas' successfully tested the pricier framed art at five stores last year before deciding to include some of these in its fall in-and-out promotion, said the vendor.

The framed art is cross docked at the chain's warehouse where the 125 individual pieces are sent to stores for floor display in cardboard shippers in a promotion, lobby or nonfood area.