At Blue Goose it’s all about the product
Blue Goose Market, St. Charles, Ill., has always emphasized its bakery and perishables departments. So when the 84-year-old supermarket opened in a larger location four years ago, the expanded in-store bakery department was placed front and center to demonstrate the store’s ongoing commitment to freshness and quality.
“They put us right up front,” says Kate Bjorklund, bakery director. “It’s the first thing customers see when they come in the store, and we want to hit them with as many senses as we can. It’s not necessarily about flashy packaging; it’s more about showing off the food and keeping the packaging subtle. We took labels out of the way and put big windows on the packaging as much as possible.”
The bakery, which contributes about 7 percent to overall store sales on average, underwent significant merchandising improvements as part of the overhaul: a 24-ft.-long artisan bread display was created at the bakery entrance and a decorated cake display was placed directly behind the refrigerated case that holds colorful decorated cakes, cupcakes and mousse cakes.
Although it sometimes causes traffic jams, putting the decorators on display has been a great draw for shoppers, whether or not they’d planned to stop by the bakery department. “The cakes have always drawn people in and now they’ll stop and watch. We sell out a couple cases a week of our 8-in., single-layer cakes, and we’ll sell out daily on a busy day,” Bjorklund says. She adds that the store’s reputation for well-decorated, good-tasting cakes has exploded, with orders coming from distant suburbs and even Chicago, which is more than 40 miles away.
Right next to the cakes, the pastries are displayed at various heights with bright fruit, icing and sprinkle garnishes. “We keep a good variety of two- and three-bite minis because those are the draw. It’s farily unique in this area to have that level of variety of bite-size pastries where people can just pick them up, they don’t have to preorder.”
On the sales floor, tiered tables allow for cascading product displays, and wicker baskets on the floor direct the customers’ eye downward. Signature items, such as sugar cookies, colorful iced shortbread and oatmeal chocolate walnut cookies, are displayed on gold boards in cellophane bags tied with gold twisty ties, adding a luxurious appeal.
“We are trying to really draw them in and make them feel like it is a wholesome, appealing place where they want to buy bread, cakes and pastries,” Bjorklund says. “Our customer base is a community, and the health of bakery reflects the health of the whole store. I’m just trying to make people aware of what we do.”
Less is more at More Cupcakes
In a world inundated with cupcake bakeries, More Cupcakes, Chicago, wasn’t going to be just another bakery. Inspired by the power of luxury branding (think the ubiquitous robin’s egg blue box and white ribbon from Tiffany), owner Patty Rothman set out to create an upscale sensory experience for the customer when she opened More in 2008.
“I didn’t want it to ever feel like a bakery. I didn’t want customers to see a traditional bakery case or anything utilitarian. Top to bottom, inside and out, I wanted to make it a wonderful experience for all the senses,” Rothman says.
The entire store was designed to look more like a modern art museum than a bakery, with a contemporary, minimalist interior that’s free of clutter and backlit to create the illusion of space. A single display hangs from the ceiling supporting glass trays that present the cupcakes like pieces of art.
More is known for unique flavors, such as strawberry balsamic with black pepper cake, strawberry balsamic buttercream and pine nut brittle; amaretto cupcake topped with coconut buttercream and chocolate shards; and pear, port and blue cheese cupcakes.
Beyond the indulgent flavor combinations, the cupcakes themselves were created to portray elegance. They’re deliberately slimmer and taller than standard cupcakes and iced smoothly instead of piped to mimic a blank canvas. Only the garnish hints at the out-of-the-ordinary flavors inside. The cupcake wrappers are brown to mask the flavor of the cakes and create a uniform look in the display case.
Cupcakes are packaged in cream-colored boxes coated in wax for a velvety feel. “We wanted that cream box to become this precious object,” she says. “With the packaging, you get to a point where you say, ‘What about the cost?’ But it became so much a part of who we are and what we’re about that we simply couldn’t cut any corners.”
While Rothman still gets pushback on packaging costs and her persistent refusal to post a menu in the bakery, she dismisses it, noting that it’s all part of enveloping the customer in a small escape from the everyday.
“We didn’t take shortcuts or do things simply,” she says. “But it makes our product stand out. You set a very high standard for yourself or else you become a joke when you name yourself More. It wasn’t conceived as a single product; it is an overall experience.”