BUCKEYE VILLAGE'S BREAD SPORTS SCHOOL COLORS

ALLIANCE, Ohio -- Buckeye Village Market here has added a new twist to bakery merchandising for the graduation season: bread made with dough in local schools' colors.While cakes decorated in school colors may be a common sight, the bread is giving rise to lots of comments, said Kathy Sears, bakery manager at the five-unit independent's flagship store here."It attracts attention because it's something

ALLIANCE, Ohio -- Buckeye Village Market here has added a new twist to bakery merchandising for the graduation season: bread made with dough in local schools' colors.

While cakes decorated in school colors may be a common sight, the bread is giving rise to lots of comments, said Kathy Sears, bakery manager at the five-unit independent's flagship store here.

"It attracts attention because it's something different. People ask about it," she said. And, most importantly, they buy it.

"We tried unpanned, one-pound loaves in school colors last year and they took off really well. This year, because of the way we're displaying them, I expect to double what we sold last year from this store for the same time period," Sears added. That means upwards of 250 loaves from the one store in the first week and a half in June. They're added sales too, Sears said. Nine loaves in different color combinations, representing local community colleges and high schools as well as Ohio State and nearby Kent State universities are displayed on a shelf high on the wall behind the service counter. The loaves are cut in half with the cut side facing customers so they can see the colors swirled together. The other half is sliced and arranged around the half loaf.

In front of the bakery counter, sliced loaves, packed in polybags, are offered on a table with other graduation items. "Before we pack the sliced loaves up, we take the middle slice out and lay it on top of the loaf so customers can see what it looks like inside," Sears said. The loaves, retailing for $1.49 each, have a 120% gross margin, Sears said. Made from a mix for soft white bread, with colors added, two colors of the dough are swirled together, creating a marble effect. A one-pound, regular panned white bread loaf made from the same mix at Buckeye's bakery is 89 cents, with 80% gross.

"The bread in school colors grew out of an idea we had at Christmas last year," Sears said.