UKROP'S EVENTS MAKE HOT-DOG SALES SIZZLE

RICHMOND, Va. -- Ukrop's Super Markets here is selling at least three times as many hot dogs at its in-store grill stations as it was in June, thanks to a pair of week-long promotions it staged in July.Hot dog supplier Dominic's of New York instigated the hot-dog hoopla and it worked, said Nancy Wingfield, food-service category manager for the 26-unit independent retailer.Not only were sales up during

RICHMOND, Va. -- Ukrop's Super Markets here is selling at least three times as many hot dogs at its in-store grill stations as it was in June, thanks to a pair of week-long promotions it staged in July.

Hot dog supplier Dominic's of New York instigated the hot-dog hoopla and it worked, said Nancy Wingfield, food-service category manager for the 26-unit independent retailer.

Not only were sales up during the two promotions, but they've stayed up, weeks after the promotions ended, she said. For example, the first week in August, two weeks after the conclusion of the last promotion, sales of the grilled dogs were up 200% from sales tallied the last week in June.

The first of the promotions was called "Man's Best Friend, a Dominic's Dog." In that instance, which ran the first week in July, the purchase of one hot dog earned customers a coupon for a second one free of charge. Another promotion, launched two weeks later, was tagged, "Is Your Name Frank?" During that one, any customer whose first or last name was Frank, Frances or Francine got a grilled hot dog free.

"They could come back as many times as they wanted to," said Wingfield. The idea was to call attention to the fact that Ukrop's grills were offering hot dogs and that the brand was Dominic's of New York, a brand that has gained renown in this area.

"[The promotions] definitely generated interest and initiated some trials of the product, too," Wingfield said.

Customers had been alerted to the promotion earlier via Ukrop's monthly newsletter. And colorful banners were hung in cafe windows or were draped above the grill itself. Some radio spot announcements helped out, too, said John Felico, president of FoodNet, the operations arm of Dominic's of New York, based here.

When Ukrop's began earlier this year to offer hot dogs at its grills -- in 16 of its stores -- in response to customer demand, the decision to use the Dominic's of New York brand was an easy one, Wingfield told SN.

"We already had a program established with them and it's doing well." she said, pointing out that Ukrop's has had sales success with Dominic's fresh sausage in its meat departments and also offers Dominic's sausage sandwiches at six of its grills.

She said she's happy with sales of the hot dogs, which retail for $1.99 each at Ukrop's.