PATHMARK OPENS COIN-COUNTING KIOSK PROGRAM

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. -- Pathmark Stores here has officially kicked off its coin-counting kiosk program with full-page ads, window banners and signs placed by the kiosks. A rollout was completed this month to all 142 stores.The retailer began to install the freestanding kiosks as an added customer service just inside the front door at 30 Philadelphia stores in mid-January.Customers who bring in loose change

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. -- Pathmark Stores here has officially kicked off its coin-counting kiosk program with full-page ads, window banners and signs placed by the kiosks. A rollout was completed this month to all 142 stores.

The retailer began to install the freestanding kiosks as an added customer service just inside the front door at 30 Philadelphia stores in mid-January.

Customers who bring in loose change receive vouchers that can be redeemed for paper cash or used to pay for purchases at the checkout counter. The supplier, Coinstar, Bellevue, Wash., profits by charging consumers 7.5% for coin transactions.

"The kiosks bring new money into the store. Our research has shown almost 50% of the people who bring their coins to the store wind up spending it there," said Dennis Johnson, marketing director at Coinstar.

In the first two weeks, kiosks in Philadelphia Pathmark stores reached a sales goal that usually takes 12 to 16 weeks, according to the vendor. Pathmark officials declined to comment on the program.

Johnson said chains usually take longer to hit the sales target, but Pathmark made it in less time.

Placing the kiosks in supermarkets saves trips to the bank, added the supplier. He said the dense population on the East Coast may favorably affect coin-counting machine use in supermarkets.

"Banks also now charge fees for many services previously offered free, coin related or not, and so these kiosks may be a better value," Johnson said.

He said manufacturers' grocery coupons for food and nonfood distributed from the machines were eliminated this year. "The coupons didn't meet consumers' needs," he said.