ZUPAN'S EYES NATURAL HBC PRODUCTS

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Zupan's Markets, a five-store, upscale operator based here with stores in the Portland, Ore., market, is in the process of evaluating the sales performance of a broad selection of natural and organic health and beauty care items that the company has been testing for the past several months.To make room for the items, the stores removed some of the slower-selling, national-brand

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Zupan's Markets, a five-store, upscale operator based here with stores in the Portland, Ore., market, is in the process of evaluating the sales performance of a broad selection of natural and organic health and beauty care items that the company has been testing for the past several months.

To make room for the items, the stores removed some of the slower-selling, national-brand HBC products, according to Jim Kane, director of retail systems, who also oversees nonfood products at the stores.

"We're looking at the numbers, and we're going to see if we made the right decisions or not," he said. "Everybody always tells you things are selling like hotcakes, but sometimes it turns out hotcakes don't always sell that well."

New products that the company brought in through distributor Mountain People's Warehouse, Seattle, include shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste, vitamins and other items. Also included among the 1,100 to 1,200 new stockkeeping units are a few grocery products and some cleaning supplies. Kane said he expects to continue merchandising many of the items after he completes the evaluation.

"We think it's been received pretty well by our customers," he said, noting that his stores are not a destination for such products.

Increasing competition from Whole Foods, which he said is opening near a Zupan's this year, and from local operator New Seasons led Zupan's to rethink its HBC offerings, according to Kane.