It’s harvest season. The smells of fresh dill and fragrant apples fill the air. How is this merchandising reflected in your produce department?
Most produce managers agree that by the middle to last week of September, it’s time for the seasonal table change to fall. Because the fall reset typically requires considerable rearrangement, this is an ideal time to tear down tables and get surfaces sanitized and rematted in the process. This is a good single overnight task.
It’s best to draw up a merchandising plan a couple of weeks ahead of time. This is also a good time to secure any fall decor that you want to use, such as bushel baskets or crates. If your store doesn’t have these items, you may have to do some shopping homework. Several companies specialize in merchandising these items.
Get with your store manager for help in securing the extra help you’ll need. You don’t want to disrupt your regular schedule, but you’ll still need normal staffing before and after the remerchandising project. One produce manager says she always has a couple of courtesy clerks (non-produce, unskilled labor) to help with the overnight reset. They can assume cleaning and box-crushing duties, freeing up produce clerks for stocking.
With a printed produce schematic in hand, extra labor secured and a date set (many resets are done on a slower night, like Monday or Tuesday), all that’s left is to write a produce order to arrive just in time for the fall reset.
Fall produce merchandising lends itself well to many creative decor possibilities. A simple incline or nesting table or orchard bin is dramatically changed when mounting half-bushel baskets, arranged for merchandising effect. Some managers combine baskets with crates or shipper cartons.
New-crop potato displays can be punctuated using burlap bags stuffed with crumpled newspaper to look like fully loaded bags right off the truck. Burlap or checkerboard fabric (available at fabric stores) is an attractive touch for lining tables or baskets.
Another nice decor touch for produce fall resets is placing dried corn or corn stalks, small hay bales or dried (silk) leaves as a backdrop for a display.
Outlying departments always want to join in on the fall reset project. After all, just about any grocery tie-in sells well in produce.
But produce needs to be the star of the fall reset. So it takes resolve to minimize items the grocery manager includes in your area, such as apple cider, salsa and candy apples. One suggestion is to limit the tie-ins with the appropriate produce displays, such as cider along the apple table base and guacamole mix near the avocados. Place empty mason jars or canning supplies with items such as cucumbers or late-season stone fruit.
Always keep in mind that fall reflects harvest time. Apples, chili peppers, pomegranates, squash, pumpkins and local favorites all figure in prominently. Fall produce merchandising hinges on finding a balance between under-merchandising and overdoing the effort. One produce manager stressed simplicity and consistency for the remerchandising project. He says, “If you’re going to use half bushels as a backstop, use them for all the tables, not just one. Also, neatness counts, even with a ‘farm’ or ‘local’ image. Use like-color and like-size baskets, and go easy on the accent decor.
“Make sure everyone on the reset crew knows their role. Move quickly, hand-stack everything, and stick to the merchandising plan. And don’t forget to have someone preparing signs as you go. That part of the project is bigger than anyone realizes. Anything you do ahead of time will help the reset go much smoother.”