Pear Bureau NorthwestThese seven steps can get you on the road to display contest success. The next time you consider entering an upcoming produce display contest, remember one musical title: “Get Ready.”
The Temptations sang this message back in 1966. Take heed now though, because when it comes to current display contest opportunities, the list reads like an all-star cast in the fresh produce business: The Pear Bureau, Well-Pict, National Mango Board, National Watermelon Association, Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee, National Apple Month, Vidalia Onion Committee, and of course the granddaddy of all contests in February, the Idaho Potato Commission’s Potato Lover’s Month and retail display contest.
If that isn’t enough to get a produce manager interested in display contests, consider this: Produce display contests are good, not only for the department, but for the whole store. When one department goes above and beyond the usual work routine, the excitement can be contagious. If the produce department is building a massive display of apples for a contest, it’s only natural that the grocery manager will want to get in on the action and line the base of the display with apple cider. Or the floral manager will volunteer to place a trellis as a backdrop filled with silk autumn leaves. Perhaps a few premium pies from the bakery can be worked into the display. Of course, all these items are welcome, assuming that the apples remain the prominent display feature.
Display contests can also provide a great team-building opportunity. This is a good time for a produce manager to get input from the members of the crew and perhaps discuss some of the plans beforehand. Or contests can be a good period to work on training the new assistant produce manager or others on the crew. If the trainer/produce manager is a former contest winner, the credibility is extraordinary. But even without this as an impetus, display contests are a positive action that can spur all sorts of exciting results — not the least of which is increased sales and profit.
The question remains, how to prepare and follow through with the challenge to not only enter, but win a prize-winning display contest?
1. Think — Theme. One produce manager created a Hawaiian luau theme for a pineapple contest. He used a large lobby area, built some makeshift palm trees, and in the middle of the pineapple installed a large, working water fountain that he borrowed from a neighboring nursery. He accented the display with other tropical fruit such as mangoes, papayas, and used several Hawaii-related items from around the store to finish it all off. Your display doesn’t have to go to these extremes to suggest a theme. Some themes are natural: berry patches, pumpkins with scarecrows, apples in bushel baskets. The sky’s the limit. Use your imagination.