LARRY'S NEW DESIGN SERVES UPSCALE CUSTOMERS

REDMOND, Wash. -- Traditional merchandising methods are being put to work at Larry's Markets' newest unit here. However, the retailer takes tried-and-true techniques and gives them their own special spin to grab customers' attention in this upscale area, home of Seattle's high-tech millionaires.The simple shelf extender, for example, is one such supermarket staple that Larry's Markets has employed

REDMOND, Wash. -- Traditional merchandising methods are being put to work at Larry's Markets' newest unit here. However, the retailer takes tried-and-true techniques and gives them their own special spin to grab customers' attention in this upscale area, home of Seattle's high-tech millionaires.

The simple shelf extender, for example, is one such supermarket staple that Larry's Markets has employed to visually break up long grocery shelf runs and bring pizzazz to barbecue sauce and crushed tomatoes in the newly built 50,000 -square-foot unit. These half-moon round fixtures occupy a mid-run position at eye level and are five decks vertical. The operator uses the shelf extenders to showcase specialty items and cross merchandise, rather than draw customer attention to today's hot price-point deal.

In the barbecue sauce category, the shelf extenders showcase the chain's specialty offerings, including its own-label presentation. Cookware needs, grill accessories and tabletop items are positioned atop the shelf extenders to create ambiance and spur shoppers' creative juices.

In the crushed tomato category, the shelf extenders showcase imported selections with colorful labels. Accessories again top off the presentation, positioned at a height that would be a stretch for most customers.

The shelf extenders are constructed out of the same materials, using the same color, as the unit's dry grocery shelving so that they blend into the run. Doing away with angular edges further emphasizes the overall flow of the shelving.

"In this unit we want to emphasize home and hearth," said Suzie McKinney, designer of the unit. "This unit is soft and relaxing in its design and colors. It's in an outlying community, while our other units are situated in urban areas where we have used materials like galvanized steel. Here we have used more wood tones and rounded features."

Despite the design departure of the Redmond unit, the operator has maintained chain continuity with color. Various fixtures and design elements, including the shelf extenders, could be rolled out to other Larry's Markets units without the installation looking out of place.

The shelf extenders are also put to work in the unit's baby aisle. By running four sections, three shelves high, and spacing the shelf placement to four decks, the Redmond store showcases its baby gifts, toys, books and health-and-beauty care items with a boutique presentation.

Another merchandising shift the operator has made in its Center Store presentation at the newly built unit is integrating natural foods with specialty and mainline grocery lines. Larry's Markets has offered its customers its "Being At One With The Earth" destination section for more than a decade. Within this area, organic frozens, bulk items, natural and biodegradable household items and health-and-beauty care items, along with organic shelf-stable items, are presented.

"As we have introduced the natural foods in other units and exposed people, the category has grown by leaps and bounds," said Larry McKinney, chairman of the board. "Shoppers in this marketplace no longer need a destination boutique. They look for natural foods as a part of their regular shopping."

"Customers want more convenience. They want easy shopping," said Mark McKinney, president. "Food is a part of their lifestyle. Sometimes they want organic items, other times they want specialty products. Frequently they want the customary items, too. What we offer is a convenient grocery store, and a whole lot more."