A SPECIALTY IN VARIETY

ALBANY, Calif. -- Andronico's Market here has something for every candy craving.The five-store operator merchandises traditional domestic products and a revamped bulk candy section in the aisle; count goods are found in front-end baskets; a separate endcap is devoted to imported varieties, and chocolates are offered in a service deli case.According to John Schweska, wine and specialty food buyer in

ALBANY, Calif. -- Andronico's Market here has something for every candy craving.

The five-store operator merchandises traditional domestic products and a revamped bulk candy section in the aisle; count goods are found in front-end baskets; a separate endcap is devoted to imported varieties, and chocolates are offered in a service deli case.

According to John Schweska, wine and specialty food buyer in charge of candy merchandising, the wide variety complements Andronico's philosophy of offering upscale and unusual cuisine in addtition to standard fare.

Schweska noted that although there are a few specialty candy stores in the Berkeley area that may compete for the confection dollar, Andronico's considers the candy programs of other supermarkets its main competition.

But even a specialty shop would have to take note of the fancy chocolates found in the deli department. Supplied by Alfred Shilling, the chocolates such as truffles range in price from 99 cents to $2.50 each.

"These have to be kept cool and semirefrigerated," Schweska explained. "They're a little more perishable than the regular bulk candy."

At the front end, Andronico's makes use of its Metro Shelving racks at the checkstands. "We have baskets that attach to the Metro racks and hang down. They hold the smaller items like bulk goods.

"But if we have, for instance, Lindt bars on ad, we'll use that entire rack to actually display the bars at the front end.

"We try to keep candy up front as much as possible, because it's such an impulse item," he added.

In its San Francisco store, Andronico's expanded its bulk candy offering. "We have added more bulk candy to our Telegraph store as well, and we're working on the remaining stores."

Bulk candy is integrated in the aisle rather than with the bulk foods, which are intended to offer a more "natural" appeal. "Rather than having people look for jelly beans with natuarl foods, we put them with the candy," explained Schweska.

The company's new bulk department, which grew from a dozen items to 40, is highlighted by a row of colorful jelly beans in clear, plastic bins. The bulk bins flow into pegged candy and Metro racks of traditional products by makers such as M&M/Mars, Hershey and Nestle.

Andronico's also plays up the holidays with all of its various candy departments, Schweska noted. "We bring in a variety of different holiday chocolates, either in boxes, gift packs and things like that, for Christmas, Valentine's, Mother's Day, Easter, throughout the different sections."

While Schweska said traditional domestic candy items represent the largest proportion of sales, "we really do a big business with the regular, imported chocolate bars -- mainly Lindt and Tobler; we also carry Ghirardelli and Cloud Nine products.

"And the smaller bulk items, like Mozart candy at three for $1, do well, too. We merchandise them in baskets at the checkstands."