Harmon greets BBB customers
Jersey City store reflects retailer's latest thinking about integration
By Brent Felgner -- Home Textiles Today, 7/26/2004 12:00:00 AM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. —
It's been near the front. It's been near the back. But at the Bed Bath & Beyond store here, the Harmon at Bed Bath & Beyond section has been pushed right up to the entrance doors presenting an inescapable, in-your-face value statement as customers walk through the doors.
It's another small step in Bed Bath & Beyond's continuing march to become the perfect super market — with 42 percent margins.
The 35,000-square-foot store, which opened in a former Nobody Beats the Wiz location about 10 months ago, represents some of the retailer's "current thinking" about its business, said co-chairman Warren Eisenberg, following its annual meeting earlier this month.
It's tucked into the Newport-Pavonia section of the city — one of the hottest housing markets in the nation — densely populated with XYZs. Those are Gen-Xers, the front end of Gen-Ys setting up house and starting families, and Zs, the "Zoomers" — the empty-nest Boomers with the time and money to search for quality and comfort lifestyles.
But the store also has a large pull from the rest of the area, offering a balance of incomes and cultures. All were apparent in the store.
It's less than a mile away from a newly constructed Linens 'n Things serving the same neighborhood and a trading area with a much more visible location.
Bed Bath's value supermarket perception is driven home from the get-go. As customers enter the store they are hit with Harmon's signature blue plastic sample baskets with large white price badges — mostly in the pennies range: 49 cents, 39 cents, 89 cents and the like, but going as high as a few dollars. They're positioned on a 12-foot gondola run fronted by a lower candy gondola. A wall of blue baskets climbs the side wall in a 16-foot run.
The Harmon department remains about the same size as in other larger stores, roughly 3,100 square feet. But that means it owns a proportionally larger space here — nearly 9 percent of the selling floor, compared to just 4 or 5 percent in the larger units.
The Harmon merchandise seems also to have skewed up and down. There seem to be more items playing to tween and teen girls, such as body jewelry and cutsie cosmetics, along with some slightly better quality health and beauty products. But for the most part, core assortments appear essentially unchanged.
The Harmon department is opposite Kitchen Basics. Aggressive drive aisle promotions, too, are pushed up against the entrance. Beginning within 10 feet of the door, pallets of mini fans, cookware, drying racks and wastebaskets slowed customers with price points ranging from $9.99 to $39.99.
But the supermarket analogy goes only so far. Food still seems an elusive merchandising dream for BBB. In recent months, skus have been trimmed and the focus has shifted to more gifty and bulk items, like gourmet oils and larger cookie-filled jars. In the Jersey City store, food has been moved to a flat facing rack area, opposite the checkouts, instead of its own bay.
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