KOWALSKI'S UNWRAPS KIDS' DEMOS

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Kowalski's Market here is grabbing every opportunity to promote its new wrap sandwich program, including focusing on marketing to children. Sales reveal the promotions are successful, officials said.Kid's Week, an annual Kowalski's promotional and merchandising event, offered a particularly good way to give the wraps a send-off earlier in the summer, they said. The second week the

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Kowalski's Market here is grabbing every opportunity to promote its new wrap sandwich program, including focusing on marketing to children. Sales reveal the promotions are successful, officials said.

Kid's Week, an annual Kowalski's promotional and merchandising event, offered a particularly good way to give the wraps a send-off earlier in the summer, they said. The second week the program was up and running, children manned demo tables to give customers a taste of trendy wraps a la Kowalski's.

"We'll do that [having kids demo products] again next year. It was very successful," said Terri Bennis, director of deli-bakery for the three-unit Kowalski's, which is supplied by Supervalu, Minneapolis.

Next up on the event calendar -- at least for Kowalski's store on Grand Avenue here -- is a Sept. 16 street fair called "A Night on Grand Avenue," sponsored by the Grand Avenue Business Association.

"Whenever there's something like that happening, or when we have a store-wide promotion, I try to tie wraps into it. For Grand Avenue Night, we'll be demoing, and selling, a whole variety of them out front at a table," Bennis said.

"That's just one of the things we'll be doing that night. Our aim is to have about 10 fun demos going," Bennis added.

The Kowalski family owns and operates two stores called Kowalski's Market, one here and one in White Bear Lake, Minn. The third store, also in White Bear Lake, is operated under the Cub Foods banner.

Bennis noted that promotional events coupled with associates' enthusiasm about the wraps have helped keep sales going strong.

"Sales are great. They haven't tapered off at all. Wraps are the hottest items for lunch," she said. They're retailed by the half-wrap for $1.99. The price is the same for all varieties.

Bennis said the Kid's Week promotion helped a lot in getting the program off to a good start. "Customers enjoyed it that the kids were demoing them. They were comfortable talking to them, asking them questions about the product. Also, whenever you have children doing anything like that, their relatives come to see them -- Aunt Sue and Grandma come by," Bennis said, pointing out that the annual Kid's Week always brings additional customers into the store.

Most of the children who helped demo wraps and other products this year were related to Kowalski's employees. They were supervised and advised by Sally King, demo coordinator at Kowalski's. They all wore baseball caps and plastic gloves and were advised to smile and greet customers as they came by, King said.

"More people stopped [to try the wraps] because they saw kids offering them something -- I think more so than if there'd been a regular demo person there," King said.

King's nine-year-old grandson, Harrison, was one of the kids offering customers a taste of wraps. All the kids who participated got a $10 Kowalski's gift certificate.

Aggressive sampling and demos have always been big at this retailer's stores. Conducting at least three manned demos a weekend at each of Kowalski's stores is normal, King said.