With an eye toward enticing customers to buy more, healthy choices are almost never found in the checkout lines at grocery stores.
Sherm’s Thunderbird Market hopes to change some of that thinking.
Since the first of the year, Sherm’s in Roseburg has begun offering healthy choices at two of its checkout stands. Instead of having a wide display of candy bars and other sweets within easy reach, the stands were stocked with healthy foods.
The store is trying to make it easier for customers to pick up snacks like nuts, mandarin oranges, bananas, instant oatmeal, and fruit bars that have less sugar and more nutrients, according to Sherm’s management. It has replaced the candy bars and other sugary treats that normally are stocked along the checkout line.
The stands are Blue Zones approved and are part of the Blue Zones Project-Umpqua to help people to eat healthier.
Customers seem to like the idea of not having the sweets so easily accessible for them, or their kids.
Liann Drechsel, who brought her son with her on a grocery shopping trip, knows that kids are always tempted by the candy, and she was pleased to see the change.
“I like the good choices, and it makes you think,” Drechsel said. “I feel like it kind of gets healthier ideas going, rather than just wanting to eat something that’s convenient. I’m super happy that this is a good trend for our community.”
Store Manager John Robertson, who has been with the Roseburg Sherm’s Thunderbird Market since 2002, patterned the Blue Zones checkout stands after the ones in the Klamath Falls Sherm’s Market. Klamath Falls was the first Blue Zones community in Oregon.
“I thought it would be a good idea to offer people more healthy alternatives,” Robertson said.
He constructed it a little differently than the Klamath Falls store, setting it up so customers can see it from almost anywhere in the store, and added blue lights for the Blue Zones. And Robertson said healthy snacks have been selling well.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from it, and there are quite a few things selling off of it,” he said. “I’m surprised at how many bags of Lil’ Cuties (mandarin oranges) and bananas we go through, after they’ve already been to produce, but we have to refill them every day, and sometimes twice.”
Some of the employees were a little leery when the stands were first installed, but Robertson put some educational literature in each checkout stand for them to read — a move that seems to help customers understand better.
Cheryl Miller, a cashier for Sherm’s, likes the changes. A lot of her customers have been pleased with the store’s effort to place healthy foods near the register.
“I’ve had a lot of people that were happy about it and were glad to see something like this, instead of gum and candy all the time,” Miller said. “They like the oranges and bananas, and the healthy fruit bars.”
Holly Carter, of Lookingglass, picked up some bananas on the way through the checkout line. She said it’s nice to not be so tempted to pick up the sugary items. She uses the Blue Zones checkout regularly.
“I love it, it’s very convenient. I like the protein and the nuts, and of course the healthy water,” Carter said. “I like that it’s not all candy and junk food, because that’s what draws the kids.”
“If you want a check stand to go through that offers a healthier experience and no junk foods popping out at you, I’d say try check stand eight and nine,” Robertson said.
Last spring the Umpqua region became one of three new Oregon Blue Zones Project Demonstration Communities — a program designed to make healthy choices easier for Douglas County residents.