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    Organic Aisle Debuts at NACS Show

    Retailers look to attract health-conscious consumers into their stores.

    LAS VEGAS--C-store retailers are always looking for ways to drive more traffic into their stores. They found a fresh idea to consider at the National Association of Convenience Stores convention this year – organic products.

    "The most important thing a retail chain can do is incorporate new products and services to remain ahead of the competition," said Stephanie Robert, director of event marketing and communications for NACS. "One of the things that we strive to do [at the NACS Show] is offer out-of -the-box thinking."

    This year, NACS has expanded the Cool New Products Showcase into the Cool New Products Preview Room and added an Organic Aisle to provide more fresh ideas.

    Previously, the showcase only included products for resale, which was limiting for both the exhibitors and the retailers. This time around, floor and countertops, shelving, technology and other types of services and equipment are on display.

    "It’s more than just what you can put on your shelf; now it’s the shelf, too," Robert said.

    The Organic Aisle features new product options for c-store retailers to attract the increasing number of health-conscious consumers to shop their stores.

    "With Americans on such a big health kick, we thought this would be a great opportunity to showcase new organic products suitable for convenience stores," Robert said.

    Organic product sales are growing an average of 20 percent each year since 1990 in dollar value of sales, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

    Holly Givens, communications director for OTA, said several factors have contributed to this growth trend. With more stores beginning to offer organic products, more shoppers are becoming aware of them, she said. As this interest among consumers continues to grow, more manufacturers are introducing new organic products.

    "It’s an upward spiral," Givens said, adding that the association has also seen sales of organic products spread out from the natural grocer chains and independent stores and into mass merchants and other retail outlets like convenience stores.

    White Hen Pantry Inc. recently opened its newly remodeled store, dubbed White Hen's "Store of the Future," in Chicago. The new store's design, which will be the model for all subsequent White Hen locations, includes an aisle of organic and natural foods.

    Retailers, wholesalers and distributors have exclusive access to the Organic Aisle and the Cool New Products Preview Room until noon today, when it opens to all attendees. More than 200 different products and services are available for viewing now.

    NACS this year also introduced new scanning technology. As attendees make their way through the preview room, they can scan the products they’re most interested in into hand-held devices and get a printout of where to locate them on the show floor.

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