FITTING BULK IN

Retailers who want to offer bulk candy, but don't think they have the space, should reconsider their fixturing options.Most retailers agree that a walkaround display is often a good choice for stores without a lot of space. For example, a 6-square-foot area can accommodate as many as 100 stockkeeping units, said Ben Ebbesen, health and bulk food buyer/merchandiser at Brown & Cole Stores, Ferndale,

Retailers who want to offer bulk candy, but don't think they have the space, should reconsider their fixturing options.

Most retailers agree that a walkaround display is often a good choice for stores without a lot of space. For example, a 6-square-foot area can accommodate as many as 100 stockkeeping units, said Ben Ebbesen, health and bulk food buyer/merchandiser at Brown & Cole Stores, Ferndale, Wash.

Another alternative, which can be applied to walkarounds, is to vary the size of the bins and use a tiered effect. "A lot of times, they'll put a wider bin on the bottom level. Then, on the next two levels, they'll put smaller ones where they get more SKUs," added Ebbesen.

A freestanding display is advantageous because it has better visibility and occupies a relatively small footprint.

In a 6.5-square-foot space, a retailer can merchandise about 50 products and basically have all the top-selling products, according to Arnie Uretsky, director of sales and marketing at Clear-Vu, Norfolk, Mass. Clear-Vu's displays can be seen at A&P, Super Fresh, Stop & Shop, Albertson's, Vons and Waldbaum's.

Walkaround fixtures are often placed in the produce department, where the candy colors and product choices attract customers, industry observers reported.

"By placing it in the produce area, you have about four to five times as much traffic as any other individual aisle in the store," Uretsky said.

"An island fixture placed in the produce area will sell 45% more product than an in-line fixture or an island display placed anywhere else in the store," added Joanne Barthel, marketing manager at Trade Fixtures, Little Rock, Ark. Trade Fixtures has installed displays for Harris Teeter, Kroger, Giant Eagle and H.E. Butt Grocery Co.

Barthel added that bulk is appealing because consumers perceive it to be fresh. Also, shoppers appreciate the bulk concept because they can purchase as little or as much as they like.

"It's a department within itself," said Bob Levy, spokesman for Amco Foods Distribution, Pompano Beach, Fla. Amco provides clear, plastic fixtures for bulk products to retailers such as Winn-Dixie, Kash n' Karry and Delchamps.

SN visited a Shaw's unit in Quincy, Mass., where a walkaround bulk candy display is located near the produce, deli and bakery departments. It held about 24 to 30 kinds of wrapped candy.

Other retailers, such as the Newport Avenue Stop & Shop, also in Quincy, prefer an in-line display. Such displays are convenient if retailers need perimeter space for other features and departments.

Take Charlotte, N.C.-based Harris Teeter, which recently began rolling bulk candy into its stores on "a large-scale basis," according to Ruth Kinzey, the chain's corporate communications manager. Harris Teeter chose in-line displays so it could devote more space to other features.

"We have a coffee bar, a large in-house chef department, and sushi bar, so in order to do all those things, we had to do certain things in-line," explained a store-level employee.

SN toured a Harris Teeter market on Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell, Ga., where it observed gravity-feed bins in the candy aisle. The store-level associate said about 130 SKUs, most of which are nonchocolate confections, are stocked.

Not all of the chain's bulk fixture installations are in-line, according to Kinzey. "Because our stores are individually designed, the store location and display space vary on a store-by-store basis. Consequently, our bulk candy is displayed in-line, on an endcap or on the wall," she added.

Regardless of where they are located in the store, bulk displays catch the shopper's eye. Frequently, cylindrical towers filled with colorful candy extend into a bin where the candy is accessible. These spires attract attention whether the display is in-line or against a wall.

"In-line displays, especially a candy wall, can have a lot of visual impact. [Some supermarkets] have in-line fixtures, and above them they have false fronts that contain candy. The visual impact is incredible," said Barthel of Trade Fixtures.

At the Quincy Stop & Shop, the bulk candy display caught SN's attention because it was positioned in the candy aisle up front near the checkout registers.

Twelve plastic cylinders filled with candy give the impression of abundance and freshness. Bins located down one side of the display contain nine SKUs of Jelly Belly jelly beans, which sell at $5.79 per pound.

The remaining 27 bins are filled with Brach's products -- unwrapped chocolate and nonchocolate confections. Three tiers of 12 bins across housed the candies and individual scoops. Plastic bags are available on a stand nearby and a scale is placed in the center of the product mix.

Waldbaum's, Central Islip, N.Y., also has begun merchandising bulk confection in its candy gondola. Its Lindenhurst, N.Y., store uses two tiers of 48 bins extending down the aisle. Lay-down bags are merchandised below the colorful tower facades and active bins.

Maintenance on these types of permanent bin fixtures can be involved. Cleaning and product rotation require labor that some retailers may not want to dispatch. For them, a disposable bin program may be the most desirable, observers noted.

Prepacked labeled bins are shipped to the retailer who removes old products when they are about 85% sold. The remaining 15% is dumped into the new candy bin, which is then placed on a rack, explained Amco's Levy.

"There's no labor other than taking it out of the box and putting it on a shelf," he said.