It's a Jungle In There –And That's A Great Place For Candy

No one wakes up in the morning and decides to go shopping at the Rainforest Café,” observes Alan Dickey, product manager, non-apparel, for Houston-based Landry’s Restaurants Inc., which operates a variety of theme restaurant chains including the Rainforest Café and Joe’s Crab Shack.
Whether they have planned for it or not, however, Rainforest Café patrons — who must pass through the rainforest-themed gift shop on their way into and out of the cafés — are taking note of an appealing new candy display in 25 of the gift shops. The fixture, in place since August 2005, boasts an eye-catching header featuring a cheerful-looking rainforest frog and a brown and green color scheme that calls to mind a tree. Its shelves provide a home for a vibrant assortment of souvenir-style candy/gift SKUs.  
The confectionery display has been well received, Dickey reports. “Over a six-month period, month-to-month, sales have more than doubled,” adds Dickey, who honed his skills as a buyer for Six Flags Theme Parks before joining Landry four years ago.
With the benefit of his theme park background, Dickey came up with the Rainforest Café Candy Co. banner and set out to source an appropriate candy/gift assortment. Many of the items are adorned with members of the café’s fun-loving family of jungle creatures including Cha Cha the frog, Tuki, the baby elephant, and Iggy the iguana, among others.  
Price points for the items range from $1.99 for specialty chocolate bars to $10.99 for a plush jungle character complete with a tummy full of jelly beans. Six-ounce twist pops with a price tag of $3.99 are the No. 1 candy/gift item in both dollar and unit sales.
“The idea with most of the items,” says Dickey, “is that there’s some kind of use after the candy. We don’t want to be in the 99-cent business.” He explains that parents frequently tell their children that they may select one item in the gift shop — “and we don’t want that to be a 99-cent item.”
The candy/gift SKUs are co-packed by companies including Jaxxi Products and Design, Draper, Utah, and Squire Boone Village, New Albany, Ind. Chocolate products are drop shipped to the stores.
Next up, Dickey is exploring the idea of adding some snack items to the gift shop assortment to help offset the fact that chocolate sales tend to decline during the summer months.
Giant Eagle Pays Homage To Its Premium Brand
Giant Eagle has used its Market District premium corporate brand as the name for an entire new store concept. The two Market District stores, which recently opened in the Pittsburgh area, are expected to draw food enthusiasts from neighboring Pennsylvania towns as well as from nearby Ohio and West Virginia.
“The stores have an open-air market feeling with an amazing array of specialty items, natural and organic products, exotic spices, artisan breads and a wealth of fresh meat, seafood and produce selections,” said Kevin Srigley, senior vice president for the format, in a statement
Confectionery lovers will be in for a treat in one of the stores, which features a “candy rotunda,” where Giant Eagle’s premium Market District chocolates will be displayed alongside imported chocolates from Leonidas, a well-known Belgian chocolatier.