Specialty Food Magazine

JUL-AUG 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/68592

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Page 7 of 207

FROM THE PUBLISHER Paved Paradise? M ost of what is written in this magazine rightfully focuses on the sexy part of the business—the products and the shopping expe- rience. But before customers have the opportunity to admire your work, they first have to get into the store. Which means most consumers' first impression of a business is the humble and much maligned parking area. Rather than only using it for temporary car storage, many retailers are making their parking lots deliver something more. For instance, Sam's Club recently announced the in- stallation of 17 micro wind turbines on light poles in its Palmdale, Calif., location to gener- ate an estimated 76,000 kilowatt-hours per year. Beyond environmental considerations is the potential to extract more business value from your patch of asphalt. Some retailers, restaurants and wineries are taking advantage of the current craze for food trucks to take their brands to the streets or, in this case, their own parking lots. Our January/February 2012 issue's "Retail Innovations & Formats to Watch" article highlights some of these happenings. Central Market in Houston parks its own CMRoadie truck in the parking lot to serve patrons and also promote products available in the store. Sebastiani Vineyards in Sonoma, Calif., takes a different tack, leveraging the appeal of other brands by hosting a pod of food trucks in its parking lot as a way to build community. We've also heard about Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Mich., using a vintage Airstream trailer called Roadshow as a drive-up coffee window which also serves double duty in making all the coffee drinks for the restaurant. Other retailers try to harness local support by allowing a farmers market to set up shop in their parking areas. While it may seem that they are literally parking the competition at their doorstep, Danny Johnson, co-owner of Tay- lor's Market in Sacramento, Calif., sees it as an opportunity. While it may cut down on in-store produce sales a little for the day the market is on-site, Johnson says, "we more than make up for it by selling meat, fish, sauces, spices and other necessities to complete the meal." But before getting too carried away with transforming your lot, make sure you have the primary needs of your customers covered—parking. As Bob Sickles of New Jersey's Sickles Market puts it, "the importance of parking can't be underestimated. If you want to do a certain volume of sales, available space is essential. At busy times I offer free lunch to employees that carpool." Even if your current parking lot aspirations are focused on assuring there are enough open spots at peak times, you may want to begin thinking about ways to make it pay a little more. Maybe you can't turn it into a paradise, but you could make all that expensive real estate work a bit harder for you. |SFM| By Matt Tomas HAVE A COMMENT? Go to specialtyfood.com/mthomas/pavedparadise Publisher, Specialty Food Magazine mthomas@nasft.org facebook.com/specialtyfoodmedia JULY/AUGUST 2012 5

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