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Bulk department bright spot in organic stores

Sprouts Farmers Market The recession hasn’t been very kind to natural and organic retailers, but there have been a few bright spots — and the brightest one, many will agree, has been the bulk department. Yes, bulk: Those rows of plastic bins stretching down the aisles that, at just the pull of a lever, dispense everything from trail mix to chocolate nibs to shampoo. Shoppers can save money by taking as much or as little as they want, and save packaging by using the paper produce bags or bringing their own refill containers. Bulk is affordable, and bulk is green. But bulk is also different, and that makes it a complicated opportunity for many of the retailers, especially the mainstream ones, that are jumping on the trend. To figure out how to best manage the category, I turned to an expert: Doug Sanders, president of Sprouts Farmers Market. Sprouts now operates 50 stores throughout the Southwest, and at each one, bulk is the star.
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