Getting new equipment and fixtures for your produce department is always exciting. Upgrading your store helps refresh the visual influence of your products and entices shoppers to buy more. Replacing equipment like an old cold case is a large and impactful project. We spoke with George Boulos from Isla Vista Food Co-op in Isla Vista, California. George has been the Produce Manager for the past five years. He shares his insight and tips on how to approach remodeling a produce department:
Evaluate Your Equipment: George noticed issues with his produce case from day one and started inquiring about a new case. He did research to figure out what case would be a good fit for the store and what would work with the store’s budget. When the old case finally got to the point where it became a financial and labor burden on the store, he was given the green light to purchase the new case.
Research: Do you want a new case or will a refurbished case work for your store? Do you have budgetary constraints? These are important questions to answer before you start searching for new equipment. Reach out to other stores to seek advice if you have trouble deciding.
Measure: Make sure the fixture you want to install will fit in the designated space, through doors and around corners it will have to maneuver around. You might have to plan to temporarily remove store doors or fixtures on installation day.
Coordinate: Coordinate with other in-store departments! Make sure everyone knows you have a big project or installation planned. Have a designated team ready to help clean once old fixtures are moved. Coordinate with outside support teams like electrical, refrigeration and plumbing. If your store is older, you may need to have repairs done before new equipment is installed.
New Equipment Specifications: George learned that after the new produce case installation, it needed to run for 24-48 hours before it could be filled with new product. George had to quickly adjust and execute a plan on continuing to sell product like lettuce without a cold case. Make sure you know the specifics of the new equipment purchased.
Adjust Ordering: Before installing, make sure to reduce your inventory leading up to the day of replacing fixtures like a cold case. You want to make sure you don’t lose product! Plan for a large order post-installation. When it comes to filling up new case, order more than you think you might need. There is a lot of space to fill up!
Details: Have a schematic of your new setup ready to make filling the case easier. Plan for all the little details like new signage, clips, shelf channels, case liner, baskets, bag mounts and bags.
Even with all the planning ahead, we all know things don’t always go as accordingly. Setbacks are common so plan extra time buffers to deal with any unforeseen delays. Just breathe and find a way to work through and meet the end goal—a beautiful and updated produce department!
Isla Vista Food Co-op Team Members (pictured left to right): Armondo Rios, George Boulos, Karla KJ Ramos