ZAGARA'S UNIT DOUBLES AREA FOR ORGANIC HEALTH LINES

MARLTON, N.J. -- Zagara's doubled the size of its natural and organic health and nutrition center and boosted selections to 10,000 items at its new Mount Laurel, N.J., store, which opened this month.The 1,500-square-foot Body Natural department offers vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements. It is located front and center in the 39,000-square-foot store. Zagara's is an autonomous division of Genuardi's

MARLTON, N.J. -- Zagara's doubled the size of its natural and organic health and nutrition center and boosted selections to 10,000 items at its new Mount Laurel, N.J., store, which opened this month.

The 1,500-square-foot Body Natural department offers vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements. It is located front and center in the 39,000-square-foot store. Zagara's is an autonomous division of Genuardi's Family Markets, Norristown, Pa. This is its second store and it is designed to look like a European open market.

The retailer located the Body Natural as the first department customers see on entering the store to show its commitment to natural and organic health and beauty care products. "Placing the Body Natural center stage, after the main entrance, indicates that we are really serious about emphasizing that department," John Zagara, president, told SN the evening prior to the store's Sept. 8 opening.

The expanded Body Natural department fits into Zagara's "specialty, gourmet and natural-food format," added Charles Genuardi, president of Genuardi's. Among its offerings are more than 100 dishes made with tofu, setan or tempeh, 200 types of olive oils and vinegars, and 10 varieties of game meats. It also carries fresh summer truffles from France at $199 per pound.

The new store affords more space to expand natural and organic HBC and cosmetics, including Zagara's private-label vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements, Zagara said. From a 16-foot customer service counter in the nutrition center, employees field queries on whole health and other products in the department. Vitamins are set up in the department on about 40 feet of gondola shelving, with HBC arranged in the center of the section.

To highlight the expansive selection of natural vitamins, health aids and cosmetics, Zagara's runs in-store product demonstrations, samplings and seminars hosted by suppliers and outside consultants.

"We want consumers to come here not because they have to, but because they want to," Zagara said. Whole health consultants and product specialists are brought into the company to train the Body Natural staffers, he noted.

The Body Natural products are displayed on gondolas, wooden and plastic fixtures, slant back racks and endcaps, as well as a two-sided 20-foot island case in the center of the section. From the shelves, call-out signs identify major product segments such as aromatherapy, bath and body, skin and facial care , personal hygiene, oral care and hair care.

The department's 16 feet of sports supplements, drinks and protein bars -- priced up to $39.95 -- fit into the retailer's customer profile. "A lot of the younger generation X-ers and boomers are really into this type of product, and we want to be there for them when they enter this department," Zagara said.

The Zagara stores have "upscale, more-educated consumers who are really serious about taking care of their bodies," he explained. "Body building is a hot sector now."

Displayed in 16 linear feet, the books and magazines selection covers a wide range of topics, from food, cooking and diet, to health and medical subjects. For example, Wine for Dummies and Entertaining for Dummies are priced at $19.99.

A 3-foot rack of handout newsletters in the publication area keeps customers informed of the latest findings on various health and medical issues. Topics include pancreatic enzymes, the healthy use of garlic, maintaining bone health, the benefits of liquid liver extracts and ulcer treatments.

Although the amount of general merchandise is limited in the store, Zagara's has integrated a few small kitchen gadgets on metro-style racks in a center-store aisle. Another item, car food carriers that plug into the cigarette lighter to keep the items hot until arriving home, was priced at $25 and displayed near the takeout food.

A 3-foot display near the tea category had several boxed items: mesh herbal and tea infusers at $3.94, glass teapots with mesh infusers at $39.99, and French press Pyrex coffee and tea makers at $29.99.

Another feature of the store is a 400-square-foot cooking school and lifestyle center located in the second-floor mezzanine. In the center, stainless steel kitchen tools and utensils ranging from $6.49 to $23.98 were displayed on 16 feet of metro-style racking. Also there were cooktop appliances, such as food mixers, food processors, coffee makers and blenders, from Braun and Kitchenaid, marked at $29.99 to $349.99. The retailer plans to hold seminars on nutrition, health and wellness, and food trends in the center, Zagara said.

"Our customers are 'chefs' and cooks and world travelers who are familiar with food ingredients from around the world, and that's what we try to carry," said Jerry Cooper, who will manage the Zagara's store in Jenkintown, Pa., when it opens in the spring of next year.

Plans are in the works for three more Zagara's stores, including Jenkintown, Newtown, Pa., and a Delaware County (also Pennsylvania) location, Genuardi said.