Director of produce Jeff Cady talks Tops store remodel
Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops Friendly Markets recently completed a $2.6 million renovation to its Orchard Park location, and director of produce and floral Jeff Cady spoke with PMG about how the plan for the store’s new and improved produce department came to fruition.
Decisions to be made ranged from floor plan to color scheme to fixtures, and Cady said Tops had no hesitation about giving produce more space than it had previously.
“The company here, they’re well aware of the growth that it’s had and experienced, and we simply need more linear footage,” Cady said. “We need to be bigger.”
The goal with new stores and remodels is always to evolve the department, he noted, so there are several new pieces and features in the department at Orchard Park. Cady evaluates potential adjustments and additions based on how they will affect the day-to-day work of the produce team at the store.
“Whenever I try to do remodels, I always try to keep the produce manager in mind and how it can make their job easy,” Cady said. “They work hard enough.”
A few of the details in the Orchard Park department include fixtures that help compartmentalize some items so everything has its place, providing good capacity control and making the display easy for the produce team to manager. Another well-received addition has been gravity-feed shelves that roll forward items like juice and dressing so the produce team doesn’t constantly have to pull up items to keep the look of a nice, full display. The department also sports tomato and potato fixtures fine-tuned for maximum impact with shoppers.
For potatoes, the store has “a nice forward-facing display, but it also has endcaps to it so you really see potatoes and onions, and it just really showcases them,” Cady said. “There’s so much more variety today than there was back when I was a produce manager, and we needed to get more linear footage ... and again, trying to keep the produce manager and the ease of displaying in mind, but actually showcasing more product, so I thought that was really cool and fun.
“Then the tomato table, which is always a great table because you’ve got the reds, the greens of avocados, you’ve got the smells of the basil and all that stuff, and that was a really fun table to execute as well, and then down below we had some shelves where we tied in olive oils and things like that, just some upscale stuff to set that side dish solution or whatever it is, that solution for the customer,” Cady said.
Another update that performed well in other stores before COVID-19 has been the produce butcher area; Tops refers to the area as Fresh Prep.
“It’s been knocking it out of the park,” Cady said. “You come in the store, right there is an associate working, chopping up watermelons, vegetables, whatever, able to answer consumer questions, and (it) just really shows that fresh look as soon as you hit the door.”
Not only can shoppers go there to get produce prepared however they like, they also get an interaction with a produce team member ready and willing to answer any questions.
“You have to have the right kind of person,” Cady said. “Cutting fruit’s one thing, production’s great, but somebody has to have people skills and soft skills, be able to work with the customers and take care of their needs.”
The department is designed with low-profile displays toward the front so shoppers can see the whole produce layout as they walk in, and whenever possible bulk displays are forward-facing. Tops has several more remodels planned for the summer and the rest of 2020.
“I’m just excited about it, and it’s great to have a canvas to work with and kind of paint it a little different and see how the consumer reacts,” Cady said. “So far, so good.”