HENNING'S PROVIDES SOLUTIONS FOR EVERYONE

HARLEYSVILLE, Pa. -- Carey Henning has a food store for every occasion.Whether it's a quick, fill-in trip in the middle of the week, a full grocery shop on the weekend, a work-break lunch or a business meeting, Henning's Market here is ready to serve.The 57,000-square-foot store offers a plethora of food-service options and features a unique layout that combines elements of a traditional supermarket

HARLEYSVILLE, Pa. -- Carey Henning has a food store for every occasion.

Whether it's a quick, fill-in trip in the middle of the week, a full grocery shop on the weekend, a work-break lunch or a business meeting, Henning's Market here is ready to serve.

The 57,000-square-foot store offers a plethora of food-service options and features a unique layout that combines elements of a traditional supermarket with those of a convenience store, restaurant and sports bar.

"We have a Wal-Mart a mile and a half down the road, and I felt that we had to do something to stay competitive," said Henning, who co-owns the store with his father, Bob. "Since we've done this, our sales have gone up significantly."

What the Hennings have done is divide the store into different areas that serve different types of shopping occasions. On the left side of the store is what Henning calls the "meal ingredients area," where customers can find all their perishables near the entrance when making quick, fill-in trips during the week.

"With two wage earners in the family, they tend to shop more often, but they only have one big shopping spree a week," he said. "They don't buy all their perishables then because they don't know how many meals they are going to eat at home in the week.

"We make it convenient, so they can grab all their produce and meat and whatever they need out of that one side of the store. They can make all the decisions for the main entrees right there."

Many of the gondolas are shorter than those found in traditional supermarkets -- about 22 feet to 26 feet -- and some displays are configured at angles designed to make the store more visually appealing and shopping more convenient.

Also on the left side of the store are frozens and traditional dry grocery items, so shoppers can complete a full grocery shop if they prefer.

On the right side of the store, which has a separate entrance, customers will find the store's extensive food-service operations, which include hot and cold self-serve buffets, plus burgers, sandwiches and pizza, most of which are produced on-site. The store is preparing to expand the hot buffet by adding a second side, so that customers can go through in two lines.

"Volume-wise, we do as much as a high-volume restaurant," Henning said.

"We are running a restaurant."

It includes seating for up to 180 both on the main floor and in the wrap-around mezzanine, where customers can observe the culinary activity on the floor below. Included on the second floor is a meeting room, free to community and business groups as long as they buy their food from the store.

Between the food-service on the right and the meal ingredients on the left, the store contains what Henning described as the "variety store," which includes such general merchandise as greeting cards, school supplies, magazines, books and candles. Health and beauty care items are merchandised on 15-foot, low-profile gondolas to maximize visibility.

"We don't bury those things in the store," Henning said. "We get a lot of people in for lunch, and having all that stuff right there in the variety store makes it convenient for them."

Henning's Market is located in an upscale bedroom community outside Philadelphia. Customers in the area appreciate an upscale ambiance, Henning said, and the store obliges them with high-end fixtures and a color palette of warm, earth tones.

Recent changes to the store include a display screen in the meeting room for PowerPoint presentations and the planned installation of Comcast-TV, which Henning said he hoped to have set up in time for the Major League Baseball playoffs.

Henning, whose family owns the shopping center where the store is located, relocated the store to its current site in 2003, after operating out of smaller space at the other end of the center since 1974.

Henning said sales have "gone up significantly" since the company moved to the new space and expanded its food-service operations.

"We had demographics that we thought would be good for this," Henning said. "People like nice things in the area."