What can a big display do for you?

Maybe you’re not ready to try for a world record pineapple display (like this one at Coborn’s) or a world record apple display (like this one at Fire Lake Foods), but take a look at what Four Seasons Produce, D’Arrigo Bros. of California and the River Valley Co-Op of Northampton, Mass., did with a 6-day promotion in January…

Of broccoli rabe.

Yes, that’s right. It’s a full rack of rabe.

brian dey and henry kryeski
Brian Dey, left, and Henry Kryeski, produce manager for River Valley Co-op, built this display in six hours. 

Brian Dey, senior merchandiser for Ephrata, Pa.-based Four Seasons Produce, gave me the behind-the-scenes scoop.

Dey told me D’Arrigo Bros. contacted Four Seasons with a unique opportunity to do “something out of this world” to promote broccoli rabe, a relatively uncommon vegetable for most consumers. Having seen outrageous – and successful – big display promotions done by other retailers, Dey said they decided to give it a shot.


PR: What surprised you about this display?

Dey: You know, when you plan these types of displays, you have a vision on what it might look like. As we were building it, however, the sheer size really surprised me. I mean, a 20-foot-wide broccoli rabe display is visually stunning. The major thing that surprised me however, was the response of the community and the customers. It was tremendous, and the sales off of the display reflected this. When you sell the equivalent of 3 years’ worth of conventional rabe in a 5 day period, as well as 25% of organic rabe during that same period, I would say that this was a tremendous success.  And seriously, how many displays do customers take pictures of and selfies with? I have never seen that type of response from a consumer before to a display of fresh produce.


PR: How often do you build mass displays, and how does this one compare – it’s pretty far out there idea, I’m sure.

Dey: I try to build these types of mass displays each week in my customers stores, but have never done anything  like this before. By far, this was the most far out there display I have ever done, from all facets. I am a firm believer in mass merchandising, as it presents an impact point in produce departments. It creates impulse sales, and adds exposure and nice visuals. And this display shows you, that when merchandised in mass, with attractive price points, you can sell anything. In some cases, people will buy just because it looks so awesome, so large, and it will get them to try things that they might have tried before. It also creates the opportunity for repeat purchases. Speaking on this particular rabe display, there has been a higher demand for the vegetable now, and consumers are paying the higher price points for it.


PR: What’s the next big display for you? Any other categories that could use a boost from a crazy idea?

Dey:  I see artichokes for veg and mangoes for fruit in the upcoming months. Much like the rabe, a display of large 12ct chokes looks just plain awesome! The size of these is so impressive, that consumers are enticed to buy and try them out. Mango displays also are easy to build, and are relatively a lower risk item to try in mass. Large displays of mangoes, with samples and suggested ways to cut and enjoy are easy displays to build and definitely create a nice presence in departments. Both of these categories, while people may know about them, they really do not know how to prepare and enjoy them. Placing them in a high traffic area with a large display definitely brings them to the consumer, instead of just in a small basket on a shelf in your veg or tropical sections.

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