UKROP'S UNIT IS CULTIVATING NATURAL-FOOD STORE-IN-STORE

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- In response to increasing consumer demand for healthier groceries, Ukrop's Super Markets has opened a natural-food store-within-a-store here. "We've been demo-ing and giving out information slips. This area doesn't have a natural-food store, so we are giving the public knowledge of what we'll be selling in upcoming months," said Jason Tracoma, senior specialist of packaged

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- In response to increasing consumer demand for healthier groceries, Ukrop's Super Markets has opened a natural-food store-within-a-store here. "We've been demo-ing and giving out information slips. This area doesn't have a natural-food store, so we are giving the public knowledge of what we'll be selling in upcoming months," said Jason Tracoma, senior specialist of packaged foods at the unit. The 800-square-foot department is located in a 62,500-square-foot store. The unit, which officially opened this month, is located across the street from a Ukrop's store that was recently closed. The new store is twice the size of the one that was closed.

The department is located in an indented back section of the building, explained Caroll Obaugh, director of procurement for the Richmond, Va.-based chain.

The box-shaped section, clearly identified with a large sign reading "Natural and Organic," consists of two gondolas for dry groceries, frozens and refrigerated cases, and bins for bulk items. About 800 stockkeeping units are offered, including cereals, power bars, trail mixes and dried fruits. Frozen foods include such items as vegetarian burritos and pizza. The store also carries organic vegetables, though they are located in the fresh-foods department.

This is Ukrop's second natural-food department. The first opened in August in Short Pump Crossing, Va., according to Obaugh. The 24-unit chain targeted the Short Pump Crossing and Colonial Heights stores because they're large enough to accommodate the department.