Discount retail shoppers have known about Fred’s – and Fred – for years. But the old guy faded away from the company’s advertising.
But if you’ve noticed during the past few years, Fred’s has transformed. Blue and green are the dominant colors, for one. No more yellow and red.
The merchandise mix, too, has been reworked.
So now, we have a new Fred’s, bringing along a part of the old Fred’s, too.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that Fred’s was launching its “smallmart” concept system-wide, with Tupelo being the first market to turn all of its stores to the new format.
Well, actually, that name was changed mid-stream. The company opted to go with “Fred’s Super Dollar” instead, according to Dave Mueller, senior vice president of marketing and strategic initiatives for the Memphis-based retailer.
“Customers saw us as a mini you-know-who,” he said, referring to the world’s largest retailer. “So we settled on the ‘Super Dollar’ name. In fact, we used to be called Fred’s Super Dollar.”
With the new name and new colors comes a new merchandising strategy – lower shelves, fewer signs, wider aisles.
“We’re not as cluttered as we used to be,” Mueller said. “We’ve made it easier to shop and improved the traffic flow.”
The new Fred’s also is putting an emphasis on its pharmacies, which have been tucked away in the back of its stores.
“We discovered that 50 percent of shoppers didn’t even know we had pharmacies in some of the stores,” Mueller said. “We had to change that.”
Now, the pharmacy is located at the front of the store.
The new Fred’s Super Dollar format will be rolled out in about a third of the company’s nearly 700 stores. This year, 20-25 new stores will be built with the new format, another 15-20 stores will be extensively remodeled and another 200 will get minor refreshments that will change signs and rework the interior.
Mueller said the remaining stores will be remodeled in the next few years.
The pace of the changes depends on how well the customers like them, and more importantly, if it makes them spend more money in the stores.
As for Fred, the human mascot, Mueller said that bringing back a familiar face was an ode to the past as well, together with resurrecting the “Super Dollar” name.
In other words, the company went back to the future.
Mueller said the retailer sees the moves more evolutionary than revolutionary, and so far, he reports that customer reaction has been very positive.
On a recent tour through one of the remodeled stores in Tupelo, Mueller proudly showed off the changes, noting the marked increase in traffic at the pharmacy that had been moved toward the front.
“That’s what we want to see,” he said. “And we want to see our customers smile.”
OK, I confess that statement is a little hokey for me, but if it works ... well, there’s nothing hokey about that.
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.