Feb 15, 2008

Match product variation with demand

We went to tiny Fish Lake, Indiana, for a couple of days in our son's cottage. We didn't do a lot of planning about what groceries to take, and so had to stop in the tiny grocery store on Hwy 4 to pick up milk and orange juice, at least, before we settled in for the night.

Mike went in and many minutes later came back with a full sack of groceries. Far from being a backwoods operation with dusty cans and a few wrinkled vegetables, it was a gem sized to fit the needs of the community, and it included a full meat counter. I'd forgotten, but Indiana is the place to go if you like pork products.

The interesting process/product practice was this - instead of having inventory of both link sausage and bulk sausage in the display case, the store only had one type - bulk sausage. But...if you wanted link sausage, the machine for filling the casings was right there. The person behind the counter - in this case one of three young people who evidently were members of a family-run business - took your order and if you wanted a pound of link sausage, put it in the casing-filler, started it up, and made the links then.

It's not rocket science, as they say, but it's a practice you don't see very often. It's a matter of customizing the product as close to the time when the product variation is ordered as possible.

The sausage was pretty lean too. And tasted much better than the product Bob Evans can sell you.

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