`Smell the coffee' here, grocer says

Marketing: Safeway hopes patrons will follow the aroma of an in-store Starbucks.

May 17, 2000|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

Safeway is using its Canton store to test whether lattes and mochas sell as well as tiki torches and multicolored coolers as impulse buys.

Teaming up with coffee giant Starbucks Corp., Safeway will unveil a small, full-service Starbucks coffee bar next month right across from the fresh flowers, near the store's entrance.

Gregory TenEyck, director of public affairs for Safeway Inc.'s Eastern division, said the Pleasanton, Calif., chain will use its store in one of the city's trendiest enclaves to determine the viability of incorporating Starbucks into other Safeway stores."Canton is really growing, and there seems to be a need in that area for a Starbucks coffee shop," TenEyck said. "We're going to test that and see how well it works."

The coffee bar, which will offer the full line of Starbucks products and feature a few tables for customers, will be staffed with Safeway employees "trained and certified" by Starbucks, which is based in Seattle.

TenEyck would not expand on the details of the agreement.

TenEyck said he hoped that Starbucks, which he called a "destination location," will draw more customers to the store."We hope that customers will make Safeway a destination not only for Starbucks coffee but for their grocery needs as well," he said.

The concept was pioneered in supermarkets locally in the fall when Metro Food Markets began incorporating popular local coffee bar Donna's into some of its stores. Though Donna's outnumbers Starbucks in Baltimore, in other cities the ubiquitous coffee giant has sprung up wherever "yuppies" dwell."Starbucks is very popular," TenEyck said. "From the reactions we've been seeing, our customers are already excited about it."

Jeff Metzger, publisher of the Columbia-based trade journal Food World, said that in the highly competitive grocery business, stores are looking for ways to be different.

Though he doesn't think the addition of the Starbucks will necessarily create more business for the store, Metzger said the coffee bar could add value for the customers.

Starbucks is "a brand image that is very well regarded," he said."Something like that in an area like Canton, I think, could be well-received."

Some customers are already anxious for the Starbucks to come to the store, though as of yesterday construction of the coffee bar had not yet begun.

Kristen Davizo, a 23-year-old Charles Village resident who said she is relocating to Canton in July, called the addition of Starbucks a "wonderful idea.""I go long distances to find Starbucks," Davizo said.

Tyrone Langston, 54, a Randallstown resident who works at nearby Bob's Transport, said he thought the addition would bring more people to the store."If my wife is going to shop, I'll sit and have some coffee or take some to walk around with," Langston said.

But other customers were less thrilled about strolling past a caffeine stand while picking up some quick groceries.

"Personally, I am a reformed coffee addict," said Sheryl LaVine, 43, a Hampton Beach, N.H., resident who is here for the summer.

"It's just another temptation at the grocery store."

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