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Store: Schild’s IGA Location: Grafton, Ohio Store Specs: 21,000 square feet total; 13,500 square feet selling Difficulty: Moderate
Every summer, we host a monthly rib burn from May to September, where I grill seasoned racks of ribs and sell them to our shoppers. These ribs come from a supplier we found at the Lipari Food Show, an annual Deli & Specialty Food Trade Show in the Detroit metro area. The ribs are pre-seasoned, smoked, and most importantly consistent. If it’s consistent, it works!
These ribs are exclusive to our rib burns; they’re not available in the case. We sell them with three sides made in-house: baked beans, cole slaw, and a fresh roll. To keep it simple, we don’t change the menu—if someone doesn’t want beans, they can double up on cole slaw or rolls, but we don’t offer any other sides.
It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun. People are afraid of making ribs, so they love getting them from Schild’s IGA. I grill them up for them and they’re delicious—I put a medium sauce that’s just right, not overpowering, and grill them for about 10-12 minutes per rack. People love them—they’ll wait 20 minutes for the next batch. No one has ever brought them back or complained.
We host the rib burns on a Saturday during the first week of the month, which works well for our store, with the exception of July, as we don’t want to interfere with the 4th of July holiday. It’s our third summer doing it and we sell out every time, selling from 12:00–5:00 p.m.
By the Numbers
5 Hours of grilling
$1,500 a day in sales
About 50% profit (after cost of sauce, labor, gas for the grill)
Why it Works
For Our Shoppers
Convenience. We make it easy for our shoppers to enjoy quality, great-tasting ribs without having to cook them. We provide a full meal with the ribs and sides so that shoppers don’t have to worry about cooking the meat just right or even cleaning the grill!
Excitement. Our shoppers look forward to our rib burns, planning their weekend meals around them.
Consistency. These ribs are consistently great. I’m able to grill four slabs at a time on the grill, which is the perfect amount to ensure they’re all cooked perfectly. I use a medium barbecue sauce that keeps everyone happy—it’s not too overpowering—and the ribs come pre-seasoned. Shoppers can count on a quality product from these rib burns.
For Our Store
Personal contact with shoppers. I get to talk to shoppers while they’re waiting for the ribs to finish on the grill, and I will even check in with them later in the week or month when I see them in the store, asking how the ribs were. I always get great feedback, and it’s nice to connect with our shoppers.
Increased sales and tie-ins. Whether they come for the ribs or not, once they’re at the store, our customers shop for food to complete the meal and spend a little more money in-store thanks to the rib burns. We have also tied in our wine and beer tasting, so customers waiting for their ribs to finish grilling can taste the wines and beers and add them to their carts.
Great smells in-store. Because we grill right near the store entrance, the wind pushes the smell into the store, which encourages more shoppers to add a rack of ribs to their order at check out. We’ve even had people working fundraisers at the front of the store come out to buy ribs because they smell so good!
Location. We set up the grill under the overhang outside the front of the store, so that we are protected in case of inclement weather.
Advertising. We start advertising the rib burn three weeks out in our circular and local paper, and I put a sign out at the road the Sunday before (our rib burns are always on Saturdays), so people can see it as they drive by and know it’s coming up that week.
Payment. We take cash only for shoppers who want to purchase just the ribs outside the store. If they buy them at the register, we accept all regular forms of payment. The ribs have their own SKU in the POS system so we can keep track of how many are purchased.
Hours. I start the grill at about 11:30 a.m., because people are waiting for that first rack of ribs before we officially start selling at 12:00 p.m. We encourage people to arrive earlier in the day, because I’m usually finished grilling and sold out before 5:00 p.m.!
As shoppers pick up their ribs, I tell them the date of next month’s rib burn so they can plan ahead. I’ll even tell customers as they walk in, “I have one with your name on it,” to encourage them to think about buying a rack while they’re shopping.
Choose a day and week that you can consistently hold the rib burns. I chose the first Saturday of the month, because that’s what works for our shoppers. They know that from May through September, the rib burns are held the first Saturday of the month, so there’s not any confusion. The only exception is the week of the 4th of July, when we push it back a week for the holiday.