WOODBRIDGE, N.J. — With the opening of its fourth store in New Jersey, Wegmans is showing it knows how to target stores for different markets.

Wegmans, based in Rochester, N.Y., operates some of the most upscale supermarkets in the United States, complete with patisseries and 400 varieties of cheese. The chain is known for hiring top-notch chefs. One pastry chef, for example, is from a fine dining establishment in New Brunswick, N.J., called The Frog and The Peach.

As the chain expands in New Jersey, it is clear Wegmans does its homework before opening in a new neighborhood.

Each Garden State unit built in the past four years has a bit of a different twist to reflect the needs of the local clientele. This store here, for example, is the first in the chain to offer a tandoori oven — a welcome sight for the large Indian population in the area.

This unit also contains a huge housewares and home entertaining department called Complements, complete with espresso makers and pricey glassware. There is even a separate checkout in the store-within-a-store concept. It is a testament to the power of one-stop shopping, considering two of New Jersey’s largest malls are within a two-mile radius. The store here, located near the Woodbridge Commons Mall, is 130,000 square feet.

The beauty department in this store is more tightly edited than the other three versions in New Jersey, located in Princeton, Bridgewater and Manalapan. A glass counter used in Princeton, for example, is not found at this store. Instead, jewelry and promotions are on end-of- aisle displays.

An expensive bath line sold at stores such as Neiman Marcus called Lady Primrose, first offered in the affluent Manalapan Wegmans, is absent at this store. The bath line, packaged in imported crystal, retails between $28 to $46.

Also pared back in this store are youth brands, bath items and some cosmetics lines. What the store does offer are items proven to turn, including a large professional hair care department. During a visit to the store, which opened Nov. 9, customers were grabbing brands such as Nexxus, which are traditionally sold in salons.Like many retailers, Wegmans is giving space in beauty to nontraditional categories. Large displays at the front of the cosmetics department — located in the center of the store — promote teeth whiteners and neck massagers. Beyond that are several displays set up with holiday promotions such as Revlon’s Snow Globe nail colors. Other featured specials for the holidays include $3.99 bath gift sets from Enchante. The store currently features $1 off all Maybelline and Almay items.

L’Oréal receives the leadoff position on the peg wall with 12 feet, followed by Revlon at 12 feet and Almay at 4 1/2 running feet. Del Laboratories’ Healing Beauty is given 4 feet next to 8 feet of Cover Girl and 8 feet of Maybelline. The store also offers NYC New York Color and a huge nail care assortment. Wegmans has eliminated some brands found in its other stores such as Caboodles.

Most supermarkets have a love-hate relationship with beauty. They want the gross margins and image, but must struggle with the hundreds of stockkeeping units and sluggish turns. Observations at this store suggest Wegmans has done a thorough review to pack in the most productive items, while still yielding room for hot items and promotions on end-of- aisle displays.

The chain has joined the list of retailers merchandising prestige scents in clamshells. A display of minis is affixed to the cosmetics department fixture with pricing such as $6.99 for a 0.25-oz. bottle of Sunflowers.

While Wegmans shies away from clip strips and other traditional supermarket off-shelf display tools, it is experimenting with fixtures in cosmetics that offer such off-shelf presentation as a pole with nail care products. These displays are more attractive than cardboard displays that often get destroyed by shopping carts.

Near cosmetics is an ample natural products department combining natural foods and health and beauty care. This store has a very large assortment of natural brands ranging from Kiss My Face to Zia.

For the holiday period, Wegmans has allocated an entire wall in the seasonal aisle to cosmetics gift kits and fragrances. Price points are paramount here and several mass brands, such as a 0.5-oz. Jovan Musk, are promoted at $3.99. Blockbuster kits from Del Labs, Beauty Innovations and Markwins dominated the display.About 200 people lined up for the grand opening and the traffic has been steady at the store. Wegmans plans another store in New Jersey in Ocean, which will open in 2004.

Beauty Innovations has tapped American Idol finalist Kimberly Caldwell to serve as spokeswoman for the new American Idol Scents. Idol Moments for Women and Idol Spirit for Men will launch in 84 select J.C. Penney stores this month, and roll out to the rest of the chain early next year, followed by other midtier department stores and mass retailers. The fragrances are priced from $8 to $35. The introduction is just in time for the third installment of the hit show that begins in January. Just as America voted on the talent, the public also voted on the juice selected for both fragrances.

Caldwell will make store appearances to generate support of the scents, and has already shown signs of being a positive role model. “Always listen to what your mother says,” Caldwell told two nine-year-old fans at the New York launch of the men’s and women’s fragrances.

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