RISER WILL REPOSITION GREETING CARDS UP FRONT

BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Riser Foods here intends to reposition greeting cards to front-of-store locations at future remerchandised units.The decision to relocate card departments is a result of positioning a 230-linear-foot section at the high-traffic front end of the new Rini Rego Marketplace in Strongsville, which opened earlier this year.Positioning the new prototype section earlier in the shopping

BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Riser Foods here intends to reposition greeting cards to front-of-store locations at future remerchandised units.

The decision to relocate card departments is a result of positioning a 230-linear-foot section at the high-traffic front end of the new Rini Rego Marketplace in Strongsville, which opened earlier this year.

Positioning the new prototype section earlier in the shopping pattern is based on greeting cards' bottom-line contribution and its status as a growth category, said Rick Channell, director of general merchandise and health and beauty care for the 37-store chain.

Riser intends moving cards to the front of its other stores as stores are remerchandised. Cards are now "all over the lot," Channell added.

The retailer added that moving the card area allows shoppers "to catch the department early [in the shopping pattern], since it appeals to everyone, rather than making it an afterthought."

"Whenever possible, we'll move the department closer to the front of the store and adjacent to floral," said Phil Arnone, Riser's senior vice president of retail merchandising.

The American Greetings card department at the Strongsville unit is more than double the size of the chain's average 100-foot card section.

The chain has another large card department at its Westlake, suburban Cleveland Marketplace store, but it's at the rear.

"The larger-format concept destination card department has worked well in Westlake, and we wanted to take it to the next level in our new Strongsville store," said Arnone.

Rather than setting card cabinets in a traditional straight-run pattern, Riser's new card department has display fixtures set on an angle, with traffic feeding into the section off a main aisle.

"The nice thing about creating some angled runs is that you have visual exposure from both front to back and side to side," said Channell. The layout directs card department customers toward a back wall with a large assortment of party goods and gift wrap.

Working with its card supplier, Riser developed the section's floor plan with placement in the traffic flow and the browsing space in mind. "You want to expose greeting cards in a way that everybody will see them, but keeping them off the beaten path for some browsing time, so to speak, is also important," said Channell.

Under the larger card department setting, Riser broadened partyware and gift wrap, and enlarged the alternative card segment 25% to about 48 feet of racking.

"Alternative cards are absolutely where growth in greeting cards is coming from, and across all demographic lines," Channell said. "The cards go far beyond birthdays and weddings by offering a wide range of different topics, and the card companies have responded quite well in filling this market."

Riser also installed its first computer kiosk in the bakery department at the Strongsville store, making it available for planning a party or ordering a cake or party tray. Shoppers activate the kiosk screen for hints and suggestions on selecting party supplies and related products like film, batteries and blank videotapes.

"The kiosk has suggestive selling with general merchandise products used at a party," said Channell.