COMMUNITY CASH OPENS NEW FORMAT

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Community Cash opened its 17th video rental department on Jan. 5, based on a prototype it is rolling out to its other stores, said Jim Key, nonfood direct store buyer.The new section includes about 1,000 tapes, 100 games and grid fixtures from JD Store Equipment, Los Angeles, said Key. "That's what we plan to go with in the future," he said.It's taken the retailer several years

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Community Cash opened its 17th video rental department on Jan. 5, based on a prototype it is rolling out to its other stores, said Jim Key, nonfood direct store buyer.

The new section includes about 1,000 tapes, 100 games and grid fixtures from JD Store Equipment, Los Angeles, said Key. "That's what we plan to go with in the future," he said.

It's taken the retailer several years "to hammer out our video prototype program, which we will be putting into all our new stores where we feel video will work," he said.

The new video department went into Community Cash's 27th unit, which is a new store, said Key. The department is positioned at the front of the store and highlights the retailer's offer of 99-cent rentals on all videos at all times. This price is highly visible and displayed on red signs with the company's logo, he said.

The new signage, already in use in other stores, "is proving to be dynamite for us. We saw rental activity increase from mostly single-tape transactions to the rentals of several movies," said Key.

"We're putting video at the front so it is the first section customers see when they walk through the door," he said.

The retailer is moving video in pre-existing departments to the front, as well, except for its largest section, which was expanded in October. That is more of a "boutique" department with lower profile fixtures, set up on the left perimeter of the store, he said.

"Video needs to be up front, close to the customer service counter to allow staffers to get to know customers' names. By clerks putting a name with a face, supermarkets can build relationships with shoppers," Key said.

The chain plans to continue opening video departments "little by little as we grow," Key said. Another will open sometime this year, he said. The retailer's rental program is supplied by Selectrak Family Video, Hillside, Ill.

Community Cash has been sharpening its focus on video since last summer, increasing inventory 20%, adding more copies of new releases and games, he said. Departments now stock 700 to 1,000 tapes. As a result, customer interest in video "has been at an all-time high for us," said Key.

Increasing copy depth on new releases to 5% of all rental titles from 3% "has impacted favorably on rental volume. Sometimes you have to change things to get people to notice," he said.