At a recent visit to the Mustard Seed Co-op in Hamilton, I was quick to see all of the things that this co-op is doing really well. It's not easy running a local grocery store these days. From my tour of the store there are some examples of what they are doing well that I wanted to share so we can all learn from their success.
Making Local Stand Out
As local foods are a priority for consumers today it is important to make sure we communicate our great local products clearly to our members. The Mustard Seed has designed some great shelf talkers that draw attention to Ontario products that use local ingredients. This attracts the customers eyes to the products.
They have also created shelf talkers that feature local farmers, processors and producers, all who have a story to share. What better way to communicate this than with a well designed, clear and concise shelf talker.
These producer cards tell the story that builds the connection between the members and where their food is coming from. Consumers are attracted to the stories that are attached to their food, knowing where it comes from and having a face to connect with the product. While staff may be knowledgeable about where products come from, they are not available to walk with each customer all the way through the store talking about the products. Using these types of shelf talkers makes it easy for the members to have that knowledge and connection.
Note: the hard lamination is a key to keeping all these shelf talkers looking good all the time.
Local Bounty Box
Mustard Seed offers a two sizes of pre-order local bounty boxes that feature fresh, local produce from area farmers.
Offering a pre-order box program in your store can achieve multiple benefits. Members get access to the best and freshest local food. They develop a sense of having something which is special and exclusive, especially if you can throw in an item here and there that isn't carried in the store. This is a low risk method to move more produce through the store by having an assured market for the product which reduces shrink. These boxes also can be a great way to move more volume of local product. More volume means more turns means more profit.
And of course, the most important is that it supports local producers to supply the store and more local food is good for everyone.
As much as social media is a great method to advertise, old fashion flyers are still very effective. Mustard Seed distributes flyers every 3 weeks in store and in the newspaper. These flyers are well laid out with high quality images, detailing the sales, the savings and the benefits of shopping at the Mustard Seed. These flyers have been very effective in moving more product in the store, or just getting more customers into the store.
p.s. the best part is that they sell the advertising space to their suppliers to put the product in the flyers... Brilliant.
Debunking the Local Food Debate
We have all heard the argument that local food is too expensive or that it costs more. But any of us that work with local food know that is not always the case. The Mustard Seed has developed price comparison rack cards which compares the prices of the same or similar products between the Mustard Seed and a national grocery chain. This well designed communication piece is a smart method to allow customers to see the comparison, but also a tool that members can take to pass on to those that might be weary of shopping at the co-op.
While this is only a couple of the approaches that the Mustard Seed is using to be a strong co-operatively owned grocery store, these are positive examples of ways to communicate the stories that are intrinsically important to the value that co-ops play in our communities.
Great work Mustard Seed!