BYERLY'S CREATES 'STORE' FOR GOURMET HAM LINE

EDINA, Minn. -- Byerly's here has created a new store-within-a-store with the help of a branded gourmet ham supplier-retailer.The chain is selling products made by HoneyBaked Ham Co. directly from its St. Louis Park and Ridgedale stores here. In an exclusive deal for the Twin Cities area, the Byerly's units are the only points of purchase besides HoneyBaked's own three retail stores.Byerly's is only

EDINA, Minn. -- Byerly's here has created a new store-within-a-store with the help of a branded gourmet ham supplier-retailer.

The chain is selling products made by HoneyBaked Ham Co. directly from its St. Louis Park and Ridgedale stores here. In an exclusive deal for the Twin Cities area, the Byerly's units are the only points of purchase besides HoneyBaked's own three retail stores.

Byerly's is only the second retailer in the country so far that is partnering with the gourmet ham supplier. (See related story on Rice Epicurean Markets' new ham program in the deli on Page 28.)

In the two Byerly's stores, HoneyBaked products will be sold from a meat department counter designed to resemble a storefront and staffed by Byerly's employees in HoneyBaked uniforms, said Tracy Wiese, Byerly's communications manager.

"All of our employees went through training with HoneyBaked and understand the product line," Wiese told SN.

The "shop within the supermarket," as Wiese called it, debuted Dec. 5 and will remain open seven days a week, from 10:30 to 7:00 Sunday through Thursday, and 10:30 to 9:00 on Friday and Saturday.

"In the two stores that we've put them in, they're located in the meat department, adjacent to our service meat departments, which is one of our fortes," said John Meyers, vice president of real estate at Byerly's. "We created a HoneyBaked shop that complements the design of the store but with a sort of storefront

or shop look. "The way the HoneyBaked products are merchandised, they have roll up carts and glass doors on the coolers, so you can see the products through them. In front of that is the HoneyBaked counter with the HoneyBaked ham sign, with a small refrigerated case in-line where some other products are merchandised as well." The products in that small case include branded mustards, barbecue sauces, glazes, and prepackaged turkey breasts and ham slices."

HoneyBaked is limiting the product line for now, according to Colleen Harris, retail marketing manager for the company. "For Byerly's, we'll have half and whole hams, 99% fat-free spiral sliced and glazed turkey breasts, baby back ribs, and right now that's really what we're starting with, plus some of our more popular condiments and soup mixes."

Ultimately, however, she said, the product mix won't be much different from that at any of her company's other freestanding outlets.

"All of our businesses are basically the same -- in the South there are some Southern side dishes that we don't use up here, but that's all," she said.

Prices will be "comparable" to those at HoneyBaked's shops, Harris added. "They may be slightly higher to cover the cost of transportation; so on half a ham, there may end up being 80 cents more."

Meyers of Byerly's seems confident that this price difference will not deter customers from shopping the section at the supermarket.

"They have a quality product -- it's the best product in that category, and we have the opportunity to sell that directly to the Byerly's customers," Meyers said. "It's just really a great fit between the two companies. So far people seem very pleased."

The chain chose not to make too big a splash in promoting the event, according to Wiese. It did run a sizable article about the addition in its monthly pickup magazine, the Byerly Bag.

"We also got news coverage from press releases," she added. "And we will also be doing point-of-purchase type of things."

The partnership is particularly well-timed for the holidays, she continued. Last year, lines to purchase Christmas hams from HoneyBaked's retail stores extended "out the door."

Indeed, the chain made the decision to work with HoneyBaked simply on the basis of such customer demand.

"If comment cards ask us, would it ever be possible to carry HoneyBaked hams in store, that goes straight to our president," Wiese explained.