FARM FRESH PROTOTYPE OPENS UP FRONT END -- LITERALLY

HAMPTON, Va. -- The new Farm Fresh 58,000-square-foot prototype store here, which opened in July, features a front end that can be completely open on nice days, thanks to a set of "garage doors," and displays a realm of Center Store products on sale on pallets there.On a recent visit, Bruce's canned yams, BAMA grape jelly, Betty Crocker cookie mixes and bottled water were some of the items on sale

HAMPTON, Va. -- The new Farm Fresh 58,000-square-foot prototype store here, which opened in July, features a front end that can be completely open on nice days, thanks to a set of "garage doors," and displays a realm of Center Store products on sale on pallets there.

On a recent visit, Bruce's canned yams, BAMA grape jelly, Betty Crocker cookie mixes and bottled water were some of the items on sale at hot prices. The pallets were uniformly sized, and stacked no higher than shoulder-level.

"One of our major objectives is to put these items out front where our customers can see immediately that they can save a dollar," said Ron Dennis, president and chief operating officer of Norfolk, Va.-based Farm Fresh, which has 35 stores in the competitive Richmond-area market. Each pallet display of staple grocery items wore a sign on top, stating a comparative, higher price checked recently at a competitor.

However, Dennis told a group of investment analysts who were touring the store that "in this market, you don't get credit for low price," since there are seven commissaries nearby and most of the families living in the area are military. Customers value cleanliness, wide variety, high quality meats and produce, and friendly service more than price alone, he said.

Nevertheless, signs around the store called attention to "Super Value" prices, a play on words for those who may know that Farm Fresh is a unit of SuperValu, Minneapolis.

On the price check signs, Dennis said "we're not afraid to demonstrate to our customers that we are competitively priced. We make it a point to name our competitor. We don't sell tires, but we do sell the widest variety and have a price strategy that is neither the highest nor the lowest."