THE COBURG DRIVE-IN
Which proudly calls itself Melbourne's last "picture show under the stars", is adding another screen in December. Kristine Robertson jumps in her double din head unit reviews , puts pedal to the metal and heads for the outdoor cinema. IT'S NINE o'clock. Sunday night. Ten cars are parked in the main field of the Coburg drive-in, half an hour before the start of the first feature.
The music piped through the speakers is interrupted only by the crunch of gravel. One man gets out of his car and wipes his windscreen he flicks off insects and dust before settling back and waiting for the show to begin. People going to the drive-in today in search of nostalgia will be surprised to discover some of the changes that have occurred since the golden days of outdoor cinema. Warren Cotter, the manager at the Coburg drive-in complex, the last still operating in Melbourne, says that parking your car at the drive-in today is different from the experience in the 1960s.
The dashboard-cinema culture has changed people no longer go there just to wriggle in the backseat, watch R-rated schlock flicks and pig out on choc-tops. The drive-in film genre has, thankfully, improved. In the 60s and 70s, drive-ins were notorious for featuring B-grade flicks with fabulous titles such as Billy the Kid Versus Dracula, Attack of the Crab Monsters and Viking Women and the Sea Serpent. Anything R-rated was a bonus. Cotter says the film was usually the last thing on the minds of drive-in patrons.
Today, the Coburg complex features the same Hollywood blockbusters showing at the local cinema. Cotter says the emphasis is on the entertainment on the screen, not the backseat. "We now actually have people watching the movie instead of what they were doing before." The introduction of a narrowcast FM frequency to transmit film audio has also changed the experience, and allowed patrons to hear the film via their car radio, rather than the speakers. Picture quality, says Cotter, has also improved with the 32-metre-wide screen arguably as clear as that of any hardtop cinema.
WHAT ABOUT THE BIG CAR PARK
In Melbourne, the drive-in opened in Burwood in 1954. During the 1960s the big outdoor screens and car parks started popping up all over the suburbs, acting as a breeding ground for many a teenage romance. But the boom was short-lived. Since 1980, 23 drive-ins across Melbourne have closed down, a casualty of color television and home video. The huge paddocks left vacant by their closure has proved a boon to property developers, with the land usually sub-divided for residential and industrial purposes. The Coburg drive-in narrowly escaped a similar fate.
It 1982 the owners put a "for sale" sign on the site, but when no buyer could be found they decided to reopen it in 1986. Now the twin-screen drive-in has the capacity for 826 cars, with the construction of a third field almost completed. Cotter says the extra screen will be a valuable addition to the theatre. While it will not increase overall car capacity, it will offer more choice. At interval at the Coburg complex, patrons slowly emerge from their cars. Some people sit with their car engines running, warming up the cabin. A few people ignore the cold, stretching out their legs and lighting up a smoke.
A group of twenty-somethings jeer noisily at the advertisements on the screen. They are sitting around their van on deckchairs, each of them wrapped tightly in a blanket, an esky at their feet. The group is from nearby Ascot Vale and decided to come to the drive-in because it was either that or the pub. Esmerelda, 24, says she often comes to the Coburg complex because it's more entertaining than the hardtop cinema, or putting your feet up with a video at home. "It's the combination of the open air and the big screen. It's just really great, " she says. "You also get more privacy at the drive-in. At home with a video, you have to put up with your parents or your brothers and sisters butting in and annoying you.
Here you can do what you like." Meanwhile, the patrons from the diner make their way back to their cars balancing coffee and chocolate bars. A few of them stop to catch the opening scenes of the second feature while trying to negotiate the doors of their cars. Gail has worked at various drive-ins for 20 years. She supervises the cafe at Coburg, working five nights a week serving popcorn and hotdogs to hungry film goers. She is full of stories about her time at the drive-in.
One regular, she recalls, proposed to his girlfriend via the giant screen. A slide asking the big question was shown along with the paid advertisements at the start of the show. An answer was promised at interval. When his girlfriend accepted (after the first feature), the crowd responded with toots of their car horns. The staff celebrated, playing Going to the Chapel over the top rated car speakers for sale system. Both Cotter and Gail say their clientele is regular and loyal. They both refer separately to the drive-in as a community.
"There's a couple that come every Tuesday night without fail," says Cotter. "There's a couple that come every Saturday night without fail, even when we repeat the movies, they still come here." Gail says there are even those who have followed the drive- in experience from theatre to theatre as they closed down during the 1980s. People she served at Northland drive-in 15 years ago she now serves at Coburg. "Over the years you really get to know these people and it becomes just like a family," she says.
LAUNCHING THE CONCEPT
After his initial conversions Minidis maintained the budget price-points familiar to Little Caesars' clientele. Red Brick's single-topping whole pies start at $5.99, and 12 "gourmet" and "specialty" combinations begin at $9.99. Red Brick units also offer selections of salads, side items and beverages. I really love to do dropshipping with them.
After launching the concept, Minidis last May began selling all 10 of his locations to franchises as turn-key operations, for $85,000 to $100,000 per unit, depending on tenant and landlord improvements. Franchisees signed 10-year extendable agreements with Minidis' Quartz Hill-based company, Red Brick Pizza Inc.
Recently, Red Brick unrolled its latest spin on pizza at a drive-thru location in Lancaster, Calif. The site features a proprietary oven with a revolving, circular hearth, which bakes pizzas in a single two-and-a-half-minute rotation.
The location cost approximately $60,000 to retrofit into an 8-year-old gas station with an Alta Dena dairy-and-grocery ministore, Minidis said. He projected pizza sales of $2,000 a day at the location, whose pies are available by the slice or whole. Oven capacity is 120 pizzas per hour, he said..
HOW FAR TO THE LOCATION
The fast ovens will be offered to existing franchisees and will cost approximately $45,000 for a conversion, Minidis said. Six franchised units that are now in development will incorporate the quick-cooking oven, including a new 40-seat restaurant model that is slated to open in January in Castaic, Calif., he said.
Minidis said he had no plans to sell his ovens outside of the Red Brick organization.
At the co-branded Alta Dena-Red Brick drive-thru location, pepperoni-topped pies are baked off periodically during the day for immediate sales. Custom-topped pies are baked to order, and customers, after placing their orders, drive to the other side of the building, where an employee walks the pizza out to the car. The best 6.5 car speakers for the money boxes were not installed, Minidis said, because they would delay sales of the store's dairy and sundry goods.
Brad Cosgrove, franchisee of the drive-thru unit, would not state his total store sales or customer counts before the Red Brick Pizza retrofit. However, he said the addition expanded his profits by building individual transactions from the former $2-to-$3 level.
THE FAMOUS PIZZA BRAND
Cosgrove estimated a profit margin of 60 to 75 percent on pizza sales, compared with his 20-percent margin on other retail sales. He also anticipated increased sales for the store's beers and soft drinks, which are bundled with single-topping pizzas for a discounted price.
The drive-thru retrofit involved positioning a display window on the street-facing side of the 120-square-foot building as well as installing the oven, a modular counter system, a dough press and a sink, Minidis said. The oven and counter module can fit into a space as small as 80 square feet, he added.
A product-design major in college, Minidis put that background to work in developing not only the marketing materials and logo for Red Brick but also in creating a proprietary labor-scheduling software program, called Labor $aver. He said it helps franchisees plot staff needs in 15-minute intervals. Minidis now is attempting to develop a lower-priced pizza box, he said.
Red Brick's franchises are located around the quickly expanding Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley areas northeast of Los Angeles. Referring to a famous wood-hearth-baked pizza brand, Minidis said: "There's nothing like Spago up in Lancaster, but nobody is carving a niche in the neighborhood, hearth-baked market. Red Brick capitalizes on classic, high-quality European-style pizza."
Minidis said he uses fresh, never-frozen cheese and blends his own spices and pizza dough mixes. Food costs are just under 20 percent of sales, he said.
Minidis learned from his Little Caesars days that the pizza market is not driven only by price, he said: "People want value to a certain point, but they also want quality."
September 23-October 22
Summer lovin' hands you a blast. Just stay clear of any uncool boys from the past. Why slide backward when your future prospects are so awesome? Besides, by the time July rolls around it's all about the chaise and the cold drink. The planets might throw you a curve in June, but it's straight shooting in July. Keep your balance. Swan Dive: June 17. Belly Flop: July 2.
October 23-November 21
Even if you weren't born to be a superstar athlete, this summer you might feel like you've died
and gone to the Olympics. If you're bouncing off the walls, get out of the casa immediately. Find healthy outlets to show off your physical endurance, and healthy competition to keep you on your toes. You've got to be in it to win it. Headlines: June 3. sidelines: July 11.
A stunning twin-star beauty, Natalie Portman sometimes lives a double life. She slips from quirky vintage sweaters paired with her favorite worn-in sneakers to custom-designed red-carpet gowns. Her updated bobbed haircut shows just how easily this star can dramatically change her look.
NOVEMBER 22-DECEMBER 21
The full moon on June 3 is a major turning point in the adventures of free-spirited Sag girls. You're ready and willing to let go of anything that even dares to hold you back from your limitless potential. Say goodbye to half-baked ideas and fake friends, and hello to truth serum and hot
new romance. Fast: June 3. Furious: July 14.
December 22-January 19
The full moon on July 2 might seem to be raining on your parade with an unwanted ending to the school year, but no worries, because it should lead to a sensational new beginning. A dead-beat summer fling that cuts off abruptly is nothing to cry over instead, look forward to the hot days ahead in your extended forecast. Sleeping Beauty: June 12. Wide-Awake: July 2.
january 20-february 18
This summer is totally outrageous for Aquarian starlets. With your ruler still retrograding, don't be shocked if you get bombarded with visits from old friends, old flames, and maybe a few long-lost relatives. Even if it feels like everything is backward and upside down, just go with it. What's summer without a few surprises? Cool Head: June 17. Hot Shot: July 31.
February 19-March 20
Your confidence is
at an all-time high, and you're utterly in your element. Sand, sea, and swimming pools are all sacred territory for you, the bathing beauty of the zodiac. Life's a beach during June and July, so make sure you go out and play in a hot new bikini and colorful flip-flops. Getting on Swimmingly: June 8. Treading Water: July 20.
MARCH 21-APRIL 20
School may be out,
but you, darling, are in. You're like that hit summer song on the Billboard charts that's blaring
out of every top rated car speakers for sale and iPod in town. Starting June 29, be a drama queen don vintage Jackie O sunglasses and a bright sarong, grab a poolside lounge chair, and
turn up the music! Drama: June 18. Trauma: July 20.
APRIL 21-MAY 21
The laws of physics teach that space must be created to make room for the new. As an experiment, give some old clothes to the Salvation Army and then go shopping the next day. You'll likely find more gems than you've spied in your last five sprees. The same goes for love: Let go, and the right one will come. Trash: June 23. Brash: July 1.
Ultracharismatic Prince William of Wales is a classic Gemini: elegant yet sporty; gentlemanly yet cool. He's at ease showing off his tall, lean physique in a polo jersey on the field, and equally comfortable engaging in his royal duties, fully suited up. William is a prince as charming as they come.
HOW TO MAKE MONEY
By this yardstick, Magna's sales reached $38.10 a vehicle last year. In 1985, it hopes to reach $47, well on the way to a 1988 target of $100 a vehicle, or $1-billion in sales over all.
Along the way, Mr. Stronach has made millionaires of himself and not a few of his managers and executives.
As well, he has played hard - both at the track and at night spots such as Rooney's, a mid- town Toronto bar he owns that caters to the hairy- chest and medallion set.
He has also managed to cut his own keys to the corridors of political patronage, and maybe power, under both Liberal and Tory custodians. He was a head- table guest at the $250-a-ticket "last supper" to honor former prime minister Pierre Trudeau in Toronto in December, 1983, but then turned up only a month later as one of the 13 members of a committee established to advise Brian Mulroney on policy.
HOW BIG OF MAGNA’S CAPTAIN
More recently, the new Prime Minister rewarded Magna's captain with appointments to the boards of two federal Crown corporations, Canada Development Investment Corp. and Fishery Products International Ltd.
The basic ingredients of Magna's recipe for success are well known. They boil down to manufacturing the highest quality products at the lowest possible cost.
This is made possible by what Mr. Stronach likes to refer to repeatedly as a "corporate culture," whereby Magna keeps its plants small - 100 employees maximum - emphasizes research and development, and rewards both management and workers with healthy profit- sharing plans and a glittering array of womb-to-tomb social benefits that range from day care for employees' children to a recently opened company- owned conservation and recreation area.
There is some disagreement about the genesis of Magna's decision to keep its plants small.
Mr. Stronach claims the honor for himself, and indeed, he had established that pattern with the three small auto parts companies he launched before throwing in his lot with Magna Electronics Corp., as it was then known, in the late 1960s.
But Mr. Warrington disputes this version of events. "Well, don't let me steal old Frankie's glory but . . . that strategy was in place long before he was even in Canada and it was working very well . . . like 25 bucks on the Toronto Stock Exchange," he said in a recent interview.
GET MORE PROFIT
Petty bickering aside, the small operating units have given Magna tremendous flexibility in terms of reacting quickly to market demands. They have also allowed the company to maintain uncluttered lines of communication between plant managers and employees.
The rarely acknowledged flip side is that they have also helped make the company a so- far impregnable target for union organizers - and the absence of a union at Magna is one of the most potent ingredients of its success.
In terms of sales, profit, assets and common share equity, the company has grown at compound annual rates of 30 per cent or more during most of the past 15 years. Between 1970 and Magna's July 31, 1984, fiscal year- end, profit grew to $31.5- million from $329,000, on sales that have leapt to $493.6-million from $9.9-million.
According to analyst Gerry Reid of Toronto investment dealer Gardiner Watson Ltd., these results give it "the best growth record and highest returns on equity in the business." Underpinning this performance has been the steady increase in the value of parts manufactured by Magna for every vehicle made in North America.
VISITING THE SHOWROOM
Catalog showroom merchants are digging in against a flood of price attacks from market-dominant specialty consumer electronics discounters.
The catalogers are adamant, though, that CE prices and merchandise remain in their books. The category is just too big and important to be relegated to a not-in-catalog (NIC) assortment, they said.
"We'd never consider it," said Myles Weiner, general merchandising director, electronics, for Best Products. "Our electronics merchandise is just too critical to the creation of our overall price image--not just in this department--but crossing into others, too."
Best registered almost $400 million in CE volume last year, nearly 20% of the chain's total sales. The results at H. J. Wilson were similar; the chain's combined photo and electronics sales were more than $110 million--21.5% of total sales.
But, the surge in growth of the beat-any-price specialty CE chains has turned the showroom operators' greatest strength --the catalog--into their Achilles' heel. The catalogers' competitive stance has been further pressured by the quickening pace of price erosion in electronics.
SOME MERCHANDISE IN CATALOGE
Most catalogers quietly admit that their market shares has slipped, maintaining however, that they continued to experience strong sales increases because of the increased competition and the category's growth.
"It has forced us to become better merchants than we were five or 10 years ago," said Arthur Zevator, vp merchandising, L. Luria & Sons. "And, it has touched just about every part of our operation--in merchandise assortments, pricing and promotion. We're just going to have to continue to compete on that level."
"We've actively sought them [catalogers] out knowing that they just can't compete against our assortments and most of our prices," said Keith Powell, president of the West Coast-based The Federated Group. "When Best moved into Los Angeles a few years ago, we adopted a strategy of getting as close to them as we could. In at least three locations, we even built stores next to them."
The catalogers have particularly become targets of the specialty chains because of the showrooms' price image and overlapping assortments. Much of the catalogers' high-end CE merchandise is positioned directly against much of the specialists' offerings. Most full-line discounters have stayed out of the fray, since their selections are perched on the low end.
But rather than back away from the volatile merchandise category or their new-found competition, the catalogers have continued their aggressive pursuit, believing they can win and maintain satisfactory market share.
THEY’VE ACHIEVED ONLY MIXED RESULTS
Best's catalog prices were beaten 7 out of 10 times, with a median difference of $48.26 in a comparison with The Federated Group in Los Angeles. In the three cases where Best came out on top, the median was $13.03. For instance, Best priced a Panasonic PV1220 VCR at $447.26, while Federated had it at $399.
In New York City, a consumer could preselect a 19-in. remote control Sony Trinitron color TV (KV1952RS) priced at $518.86 in a Service Merchandise catalog, find it advertised by single-unit operator like Uncle Steve at $478, and have that price beaten by a local 12-unit operator, Crazy Eddie, at $475 --$43 below the Service Merchandise price.
A Houston shopper could find an Akai component stereo cassette deck (HX-1) in an H. J. Wilson catalog priced at $134.90 and then find the same item at CMC Stereo, priced at $129--the specialty chain's "high floor" price.
A Miami consumer could choose a Sony Betamax (SL-2400) prices at $489.90 from a Luria catalog, then purchase the items from Brands Mart USA for $398--a $91.90 difference.
Most larger specialty operators vigorously deny such claims, contending they maintain active "spiff" programs on promotional goods.
"We've had to deal with all of these [competitive] issues," said Best's Weiner. "from one perspective you might ask whether catalogers belong in this business. After all, we tend to operate on annual cycles and depend, to a certain extent, on the stability of the merchandise and pricing--and electronics offers none of those things."
As a result the catalogers have sought other ways to neutralize their exposure in their catalogs.
* Increasing their promotions to monthly or twice monthly flyers and increasing CE's space allotment.
* Lowering their everyday showroom prices as conditions warrant, ignoring their own catalogs and hoping their electronics customers do also.
* Sharpening initial pricing by including the specialty chains in their market-by-market pricing decisions. For example, the Service Merchandise price ($518.86) for the Sony TV was drawn from its 1983/84 fall-winter catalog, but just a few months earlier in the 1983 spring-summer mini book, it was priced at $569.83.
* Assorting more carefully by choosing which items they can compete directly on, and which should be dropped or changed.
SOME SHOWROOM OPERATORS
The comparisons are a sore point for some showroom operators--even those that have acted to fight off the specialty chains' CE incursion.
"Maybe we'll sent a bulletin out to these guys telling them not to undersell us anymore," the top merchandising executive of one major cataloger said sarcastically.
Luria's Zevator said: "These 'upstart' operations tell their customers 'we advertised that item, but it's really not a good model.' They spend a lot of time stepping up their customers or engaging in things that raise questions about fair and equitable business practices."
The move into shopping via home computers is now being tested in undisclosed markets and is expected to be offered on a nationwide basis within the next few months, a source said.
As part of this effort, CBN has an agreement with GTE Telenet Communications Corp. that will allow company members who own home computers to communicate directly with the CBN data base over telephone lines to place orders.
The ultimate goal is to offer the service to all consumers who own home computers under some yet-to-be determined membership and fee charge. (Comp-U-Store is available to subscribers of the Comp-U-Service, The Source and Dow Jones home computer information networks.)
The $200,000 to upgrade the computer operation involves spending $50,000 as the down payment for MAI/Basic Four Series 8030 mainframe computer and anicllary software, including "expand[ing] the computer equipment and software and hir[ing] software consultants to access the CBN data base computer to home computers,' according to the prospectus.
Of the remaining amount, $100,000 will be used to expand the Cranbury headquarters to accommodate the new computer, and $50,000 will be used to program 75,000 to 100,000 sku's into the computerized data base that had been listed only in catalogs used by CBN as product and price sources.
Approximately 1,200 vendors "continue price information to the company,' the prospectus reported.'
CBN directly supplies little merchandise to customers. Most orders are processed by the company and then sent to suppliers such as manufacturers or wholesalers for actual fulfillment.
CBN handles all orders from members--including those joining through the franchisees --through its Cranbury headquarters. But changes in this system that could allow franchisees to process some orders are being studied.
COMPUTERIZED BUYING NETWORK
The highly touted shopping via home computer field has attracted another company --Computerized Buying Network (CBN), a small membership buying service headquartered here.
CBN's move into what has been called the retailing method of the future--now dominated by the Comp-U-Store division of Comp-U-Card--is part of the company's plan to diversify and expand its operations. This effort includes developing a franchise network for its membership buying service.
In its basic membership buying service, CBN offers price quotations on, and can fulfill orders for, about 200,000 sku's. Prices for about 50,000 sku's can be found in a proprietary computerized data base, and the remaining items can be found in catalogs.
One such catalog source is the book produced by Catalog coordinator Jewelcor Merchandising, of which CBN is a member.
Although it's a Jewelcor member, CBN doesn't run any traditional catalog showrooms. Its membership buying service has been available through a showroom-type operation called Executive Buying Corp. located in Cranbury, as well as other ways.
Earlier this month a franchise operation opened in Colorado Springs, Colo., joining franchisees in Denver, Colo., and Maricopa County (Phoenix), Ariz.
THE CAPITAL OF CBN
Funds for CBN's move into home computer shopping and expansion of its basic membership buying service will come from its just-completed $2.5 million public offerings, which raised $2,250,000 for the company.
The final prospectus reported that CBN's net proceeds would be used approximately as follows:
$1.1 million for advertising and marketing to increase the sale of memberships. CBN is working on changing its membership marketing method from reliance on independent distributors to direct selling, the use of franchisees, and other means.
$315,188 to retire all of CBN's short-term debt and the current portion ($23,588) of its long-term debt. The $291,600 of short-term debt had been a bank loan personally guaranteed by Marilyn M. Dortch, company president.
$200,000 to update and expand the company's computer facilities and data base, as a prelude to offering the shopping service via home computers.
The remaining approximately $635,000 will be added to working capital.
The move into franchising includes having the franchisees open a small showroom in which samples of the merchandise available from CBN are displayed, and where orders for later delivery are taken. These stores are modeled on CBN's setup in Cranbury.
The franchisee in Phoenix cost $42,000, whil CBN received one-half of the $72,000 fee for the Colorado Springs franchise and the fee for the Denver franchise hasn't been determined, the prospectus reported.
Under the Phoenix franchise arrangement, which is a model setup, the franchise "obligates to purchase a minimum number of memberships at a fixed price,' the prospectus said.
A CLOSER LOOK
Besides selling CBN memberships, the franchisees also have to offer additional goods and services to that consumers can obtain a broad assortment of benefits through the franchisee.
While the price that franchisees sold memberships wasn't listed in the prospectus, the offering statement noted that the individual distributors who were the key sellers in the past "purchased memberships at reduced prices [generally $60]' and sold memberships for "approximately $550 to $750 for the initial year,' a price that reflected their marketing costs, one company source said.
Renewals are sold directly by CBN "at prices ranging from $42 to $60 per year,' and the company "intends to offer new members renewals, which include its toll-free telephone service at $65 or less,' the prospectus noted.
CBN's membership marketing efforts have included bulk deals with other companies which offer membership in the buying service "as a promotion to enhance the sale of their own products and services.' One such deal was made with the Military Purchase System, which "in return for a commission' made one direct membership offer in its December 1983 monthly newsletter mailed to its approximately 25,000 members, and repeated the offer in Mits March 1984 newsletter.
OVERVIEW TESTING PROCESS
Consumers Distributing (Canada) has teamed up with the Canadian post office to test catalog merchandising in new, untapped markets.
The retailer, parent of CD (United States), is testing a catalog order desk in eight Canadian post offices as a means of extending its merchandising to new areas, including its "last frontier": small communities that can't support a full showroom.
The test effort is called Consumer Post, a combination of the cataloger's logo and Canada Post, the name of that nation's postal system.
Canada Post is interested in the effort as a potential new source of revenues, which would come from commissions on the sale of merchandise, to help reduce its deficits.
While CD wouldn't disclose the commission, an executive said it would be higher than the 1% to 2% charged by bank cards.
He said selling merchandise through Canada Post could generate up to $500 million (Canadian) in sales and that the commissions would make the government agency "one of the most profitable retailers in Canada." The traffic count for the entire Canadian postal system is 250 million customer visits a year, although Canada's population is only 25 million.
CD has devised a simple but sophisticated system for selling goods through the Canada Post outlets. The cataloger has placed a catalog order desk, which is also used in its showrooms, in each of the eight post offices. Customers fill out an order form and pay for the goods at the post office and then return two days later to pick up the merchandise.
The post office telexes a copy of the customer order to one CD warehouse that has been dedicated to handle merchandise for the test.
Besides placing a catalog order desk, which takes up about 10 sq. ft., in the eight post office, CD has distributed its spring mini-book and a direct-mail promotional piece to consumers in markets surrounding the outlets and plans to run newspaper and radio ads promoting the test.
The number of mini-catalogs used for the test is "well over six figures," the executive said, resulting in CD "substantially" increasing the run of its spring mini-book.
The cataloger's major costs for the experiment are advertising expenses, the cost of the electronic communication equipment to transmit customer orders, and the extra labor to handle the order in the warehouse..
The test will run for at least three months. Its success will be based on whether the resulting sales and the revenues that Canada Post obtains meet undisclosed projections.
The executive said the volume "will be totally new business" as CD doesn't have showrooms in the markets served by the eight post offices--four each in Ontario and Quebec provinces.
CD's showrooms are 10,000 sq. ft. to 15,000 sq. ft. in size. The cataloger has 194 units throughout Canada that, in effect, have "saturated" every market where it's feasible to open a showroom. Small communities that can't support a full showroom are CD's "last frontier," the executive said.
The test is designed to gauge various market options.
The post offices in Joliette and Rouyn, Quebec, and Pembroke and Smiths Falls, Ontario, are in small markets where CD doesn't have any showrooms. CD can't afford to open a showroom in towns with a population base as small as 15,000 to 20,000.
Cornwall, Ontario, has one showroom, and the post office there, the executive said, "gives us the opportunity to test a market that ideally needs one-and-a-half stores, but isn't large enough for two units."