ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Gooding's Super Markets is experiencing brisk sales from an expanded party supply section it put in its prototype Market Fest store.
Gooding's is the latest in a number of chains such as Vons Cos. and H-E-B Grocery Co. that has expanded greeting cards into large boutique departments or has expanded party supply sections.
The chain rolled out the new and enlarged 16-foot-long party supply center at the new store when it opened here in November.
The party supplies, featuring several hundred stockkeeping units, are positioned at the end the of the 84-foot greeting card section beside candles and gift wraps. The greeting card aisle is located near the center of the store before auto and hardware and after the pet supply aisle.
The large variety enables shoppers to fill just about any kind of party need with products that range from matching table accessories and decorative products to licensed children's partyware.
The party section is by far the largest in the chain. Gooding's typically merchandises the category in scaled-down versions of 2-foot to 4-foot sections, according to store observers. Gooding's officials declined to comment on their new merchandising of party goods.
However, according to sources who wished to remain anonymous, the chain is apparently quite happy with the larger party center's performance and sales in the short time it's been up and running. "The larger section is doing well, customers like it. and for the amount of time it's been open it's generating good money," said a company source.
"It has everything you'd need
to plan an adult or children's party from paper cups, plates and napkins in matching designs and colors, to color-coordinated utensils and cutlery and table covers," he added.
The section also carries birthday party merchandise in hats, party favors, candles and games, including pin the tail on the donkey. The mix also contains banners and signs. Licensed merchandise includes Barney, Mickey Mouse and other characters. The party supplies are merchandised on facing gondolas in the greeting card aisle and opposite the card fixtures. The products are set out on slanted clear plastic shelf tiers that allow customers to see the product better and view the assortment displayed lower on the gondola.
According to the source, Gooding's may expand the party center even more at the new store.
"The company is talking about expanding their party supply section at the new store, although the timing or exact amount of space by which the section will be increased isn't yet finalized," said the observer.
"To do a really good job with party supplies in a supermarket today the category warrants at least a 28- to 40-foot department. However, in grocery stores the amount of room to allocate is determined by the amount of space available in terms of the entire selling area of the store, which is the first consideration.
"The party supply center ideally should be in close proximity to greeting cards. But being that many customers come to supermarkets several times through the week, once they figure out [the party center is in the store] it doesn't really matter where it is as long as it's placed at a high-traffic area," the observer said.