Gelson's Markets' John Savidan Talks Holiday Merchandising Strategies
- by Chandler James
ENCINO, CA - Have you ever seen an artichoke Christmas tree? Or a shopper reaching for some apples with a pie recipe in-hand? These are just a couple signs that the holidays are alive and well in the produce department. As buyers and suppliers alike ramp up for the holiday rush, I got in touch with John Savidan, Senior Director of Produce and Floral at Gelson’s Markets.
“It’s really no surprise that our number one holiday category is what we label as ‘cooking vegetables.’ So many of our customers are foodies and enjoy cooking fresh, quality meals at home,” John explained. “This category does very well all year long, but really thrives during the holidays when customers want to cook at home and impress their guests. The cooking vegetable category is followed in order by salads, hard fruit (we group citrus, apples, and pears here), cut fruit, and then berries.”
Gelson’s makes every shopping experience a glorious event, building large, impactful displays in high-traffic areas that show extreme levels of detail and craftsmanship. According to John, these impeccably manicured displays are what customers have grown to love and cherish when shopping the grocer’s produce departments.
“We pride ourselves on making sure everything is perfectly hand stacked and that we touch every item that makes its way onto the sales floor,” he continued. “Our wet racks with all of the different vibrant colors are very hard to ignore and resist when shopping for the holidays. It’s important to note that especially during the holidays, you will find some form of thematic merchandising, whether it’s a Christmas tree made out of artichokes or asparagus, or even a fresh cranberry bog.”
Gelson’s is selective with its POS signage in an effort to let the quality of the products speak for themselves. Instead, the retailer utilizes grower boxes, which help communicate and create freshness when building large displays.
“A lot of the time, the boxes act like silent salesmen and help us tell the story, especially when locally sourced,” John said. “Over the years, these grower boxes end up representing seasonality, and when our customers see them they know they can expect the very best.”
That quality remains a central focus for Gelson’s produce department, and its supplier partners are an integral piece of the puzzle.
“All of our suppliers know quality is king when making it into our stores, and they know we will not settle for anything less than the very best,” John noted. “The holidays are a great time for suppliers to showcase their top items and show retailers as well as customers what they have to offer. It’s no secret the holidays are the busiest time of the year for everyone, and getting quality products out in front of customers when the foot traffic is at its highest is very beneficial.”
Take it from John: This is one time of year when sales are not to be taken for granted. ANUK will continue bringing you the industry’s strongest holiday strategies, so keep a tab open for us.