Jungle Jim’s delivers a foodie adventure
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine.
Part traditional supermarket, part theme park and part United Nations, a visit to Cincinnati-based Jungle Jim’s International Market is truly an event.
From the life-size giraffe lounging by the pool in the parking lot and the singing animatronics inside to the S.S. Minnow replica and 800-pound tube of provolone hanging in an endcap, there’s a lot to see. Scads of festivals, tastings and cooking classes further make Jungle Jim’s a popular destination for out-of-town visitors.
And did we mention the working monorail that ferries visitors to and from the nearby Oscar Event Center?
When Jungle Jim Bonaminio founded the business in 1971, the concept of “retailtainment” hadn’t yet been conceived, but his ahead-of-its-time solution was to make shopping fun. In fact, that’s one of the reasons Jungle Jim’s still doesn’t offer online ordering. “Our stores are an adventure,” says senior buyer and category manager Chris Vollat. “They’re meant to be shopped, not picked like a warehouse.”
He adds, “We believe food brings people together, and that can’t happen when the consumer is sitting behind a computer screen.”
Shoppers can find 180,000 different items — more than a third of which are international — within literally hundreds of categories across the two massive stores (more than 500,000 square feet of combined floor space). The generous space provides a unique ability to continually try new things to stay ahead or create new trends.
Compared to typical grocers, the stores also avoid private labels because management frowns on me-too products. “Jungle Jim’s is all about selection and variety, finding specific brands for a specific taste or need,” Mr. Vollat explains.
Another difference are minimally prepared foods. Mr. Vollat said, “We tried a few concepts but soon realized that people shop at Jungle Jim’s because they like to cook. They’re food lovers who want to explore and read labels, who seek inspiration for their own creativity in the kitchen.”
He adds, “Prepared food is all about convenience, but convenience is not the focus at Jungle Jim’s. We see our stores as more of a giant pantry for foodies.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is retailtainment easier or harder for a supermarket versus other retail channels? Which retailers stand out for entertaining their customers?