Spring 2010
See’s Eyes Year-Round Kiosks

Encouraged by holiday sales, See’s Candies explores year-round mall kiosks in Minnesota.

Every year, during the peak holiday sales season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, See’s Candies has sold its confections through mall kiosk outlets across the country.
Executives at the San Franscisco-based chocolatier have always seen the financial benefits of these holiday mall kiosks. But it was only recently that they began to consider the
business they were missing as they closed up shop once the holiday season was complete. The result? See’s will be introducing two permanent kiosk locations—one each—in two of Minnesota’s biggest malls. Both the Mall of America and the Rosedale Center in Roseville will now be home to “See’s Candy Corner,” the first permanent kiosks in Minnesota for the confection company. The kiosks are slated to be opened by late spring or early summer.

The company announced its plans via Facebook, where it has nearly 32,000 fans. See’s has been owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the Warren Buffett-run conglomerate, since the 1970s.

Making inroads in Minnesota

“We’ve always experienced a good relationship and incredible name recognition with our customers in Minnesota,” says Richard Van Doren, vice president of marketing for See’s. “Our carts have been very successful there, so we felt it was time to take the next step.”

Last holiday season, See’s had over 130 holiday stand-alone mall kiosks around the country. In the top 35 of their best-selling locations, the carts continued through Valentine’s Day.

“The rent for a permanent kiosk space for our new Minnesota-based See’s Candy Corners is much less than an inline,” says Van Doren. “Our sales are usually good throughout Valentine’s Day and the Easter months, but it will be interesting to see what happens during the summer months at these particular locations.”

Business mechanics

See’s wide assortment of chocolates, fudge and nuts are available at the kiosks for $16.10 a pound. The permanent kiosks will offer gift boxes in a number of sizes. Ready-made smaller packages of some of the company’s top sellers will also be available.

The new permanent kiosk locations will have the nostalgic feel of yesteryear. Employees will wear the company’s white uniforms—standard issue since See’s inception in 1921. The partially enclosed permanent kiosk space will include four freestanding vertical pedestals for candy. These will be equipped with pull-down metal curtains to keep everything secured at closing time.

“We’ve spent a lot of time designing something that would have the look of See’s Candies and also something that would look completely different and stand apart from the look of the other carts,” says Van Doren. “The locations of these kiosks are also very important to us. Often, we are located at the base of the escalators where we can experience a lot of foot traffic.”

One of the few challenges Van Doren and his team has faced with both their temporary and permanent kiosks has been finding just the right employees. “It’s always hard to find good help,” he says. “But we are lucky that we often have the same people come back year after year after year. As a company, we are quite fortunate in that regard.”
If things go well in Minnesota, more permanent kiosks might be in line for the rest of the country. “Let’s say we are going to tiptoe into these new areas, possibly somewhere in the Dallas area next,” Van Doren says. “We’re going to have to wait and see how these two do first.”

For more information, please visit Sees.com.

Tricia Despres

Freelance writer Tricia Despres resides in the Chicago suburbs with her husband Paul and daughters Taylor and Amanda. Her work has been published in a number of magazines, including Hemispheres, Advertising Age, Shopper Marketing and Today's Chicago Woman.
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