Thursday, June 2, 2011

Store Makeover Updates

By Bruce Palma, General Manager

Elvis Has Left the Building

Ladies and Gentlemen, the contractor’s trailer and dumpster have left the building! (Rumor has it, Elvis was in that trailer, but he left, too..) We are officially in the home stretch of the construction phase of our Co-op makeover. We’ll still be adding some final touches to the sales floor as well—but our primary focus will be on fine tuning our merchandising, adding new products, and working with our new equipment and shelving to make it as customer-friendly as possible.

What’s most exciting are all the new items and services we’re adding on a daily basis. (I’ve ended up eating lunch from the new salad bar and hot bar every day for the past several weeks.) And we’re rolling out our new fresh cut cheese program and demo counter as we speak. Check out the many new varieties of cheese we’re cutting and wrapping in-house now. (Self serve olives are coming soon).

We’re also installing new outdoor dining counters on both sides of the building, and we’re replacing the round table and stools with another counter with stools. And we’ll be polishing up our landscaping around the building.

Owner/Shopper Concerns
While we’ve had an overwhelming amount of positive feedback for the store makeover, we’ve also heard concerns from some of our owners and shoppers. I think it’s important to address a few of these concerns.

Some of you have wondered if prices have been increased to pay for the store makeover. I can assure you we have not raised any prices to cover these costs. We only raise prices when we receive increases from our vendors and distributors. We have many vendors, and each has a different wholesale cost structure depending on their size, product lines and other factors.

Our competitors also source from many of our primary vendors and distributors, so price increases are usually reflected in our competitor’s pricing as well. We’ve been in our current location for over 15 years and it was time to make some major capital improvements. This is a normal function of all retail businesses, and we planned the makeover to be financially successful without raising prices. Furthermore, we are committed to passing on as many vendor deals and discounts we can. I’m confident that you will find some amazing deals throughout our Co-op. (And don’t forget, we’re one independent store, as opposed to a giant global chain with huge buying power).

Food and food product prices have always been subject to conditions such as weather, fuel prices, commodity prices, availability and other factors—all of which cause prices to fluctuate. Some prices have been rising lately due to increased oil prices, bad weather (affecting produce and commodity prices), and vendor and distributor price increases. As for our produce prices, I am always amazed at the great prices I end up paying for fresh, local, organic produce in our Co-op.

Produce Department
Even though we’ve remodeled—and added a salad bar/hot bar and other services—it was never our intention to compromise our existing product offerings or to minimize our focus on providing simple, fresh, local, organic and nutritious food.

We are still 100% committed to offering the best and freshest local, organic produce we can find. The display cases, fixtures and layout may have changed (and we’re all learning the new layout), but we still carry all the produce we did in the “old” store. So, please ask one of our staff members if you can’t find something. As the seasons change, more seasonal produce items will become available.

We’re still learning how to best merchandise our produce department. If you see somewhat less product on the shelves than before, it’s simply because we want to maintain quality and freshness. And it’s easier to do with less shelf stock. We’re just bringing out produce as needed in smaller quantities—again, to ensure quality and freshness.

While we believe we excel in many areas, we’re fully aware of our parking lot limitations. But we still felt it was necessary to address our store interior and make changes. We are making every effort to have a parking lot attendant (sometimes two) on duty during peak hours (usually 11 am – 7 pm). We’re also researching the possibility of extending the parking spaces a few feet on the south side of the lot (where the shrubs used to be).

And now that the store makeover is almost complete, we will be focusing on creatively addressing some of our parking lot limitations.

Once again, I want to thank all of you for your support during these past few months. Our goal was to complete a store makeover without disrupting normal business as much as possible. I know the remodel has been a huge change for our Co-op, and we’re still working hard to iron out any kinks and make it as amazing and shopper-friendly as possible.
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Anonymous Jason said...

Sounds great, love the idea of the new in-house cheese varieties.

June 3, 2011 at 9:07 PM  

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