THIRD-PARTY SHOPPER TAPS KING KULLEN

WESTBURY, N.Y. -- King Kullen Grocery Co. here is offering customers in New York's Nassau and Suffolk counties home shopping and delivery for a service fee equal to 20% of the total order.The chain, which began promoting the service in its weekly ad circular Oct. 20 and in front windows of its 46 Long Island stores, declined comment on the program. A company source, however, confirmed the service

WESTBURY, N.Y. -- King Kullen Grocery Co. here is offering customers in New York's Nassau and Suffolk counties home shopping and delivery for a service fee equal to 20% of the total order.

The chain, which began promoting the service in its weekly ad circular Oct. 20 and in front windows of its 46 Long Island stores, declined comment on the program. A company source, however, confirmed the service is new.

Josephine Amplo, president of Josephine's Delivery Service, Farmingville, N.Y., which is providing order selection and delivery services, said 14 new customers tried out the program since it was advertised in King Kullen's circular. In its first weeks, the service's orders totaled about $3,000.

"King Kullen gets to offer customers another service, while we both build our businesses," she said. "I could be shopping at many other supermarkets for my customers, but now, through the venture, I do all my business at King Kullen."

Amplo noted that since she started her company almost two years ago, King Kullen was the supermarket of choice among many of her customers.

Amplo visits King Kullen stores in the customers' areas to fulfill orders. She personally picks the products and pays retail for the purchases. Customers pay for packages upon delivery, either by cash or check.

The 20% fee, based on the total purchase price, is charged by the delivery service to cover costs related to the order taking, product picking and delivery. Orders below $50 are subject to a $10 fee.

The demographics of customers using the service vary widely, from housewives, non-drivers, senior citizens and the homebound to time-strapped working professionals.

"Josephine's service is reportedly doing well and gaining new customers," said Fran Hollmann, director of in-house advertising for King Kullen. "We hope she will continue to be able to handle the service for the whole chain."

"In addition to the large selection and the amount of gourmet foods they offer, King Kullen's managers and employees are always helpful," Amplo said. "As long as I get the quality and products my customers expect, King Kullen is a good match."