A little homework complication….I live here, in Yosemite National Park, CA. And livingin a national park means that development is very restricted. There is only 1 storewithin 20 miles of my house so doing the homework assignment meant that I had to doa lot of driving or just limit my observations to one store….
The El Portal Market is my small town market where we buy the things that we forgotto buy when we went to town. Given its rural location, its prices are generally too highto do all of our shopping there, but it does help us to get by in a pinch. We even havean account there, like store offered 50 years ago. And since it is the only store formiles, I get to see a lot of the community members and get to know the staff who workthere on a personal level.
On the side of the store near the parking lot, there is a sign that displays some of theirgoods. You may also notice that the building is somewhat dirty. The exterior of thebuilding is beige with brown trim and green awnings. While talking to the staff personinside, they told me that it was likely that the government picked out those colors sincethe store is on federal administrative site for the park. An interesting driver ofmarketing decisions.
Location, location, location. That’s what the El Portal Market really has going for it. Itis the only place to stop for food or gas for at least 20 miles in either direction and 4million tourists a year come to the Park. It also has a steady base of shoppers fromthe local community of park and non-profit staff who don’t always get out of the area tobuy other groceries on a regular basis, making this the place to go when you need alast minute item.
Since it is such a community hub, it features several things that most stores don’thave. Here is a community board where people post events and services offered.
And a place to hang out and have coffee since there is no where else to go to besidesa few restaurants at hotels nearby.
The shelves are organized categorically, like any other grocery store and they arerarely ever completely stocked. The flooring is also brown, green and beige like theexterior of the building, but I don’t know if the Park Service enforced that as well. Ingeneral, the place is tidy and spacious with little signage or other things to encouragepurchasing.
The prices are not especially well-displayed and they don’t seem to mind too much ifpeople don’t notice that things are on sale.
When I started asking about product placement, the gentleman who works there said that theymostly try to keep things together categorically and that is really the only criteria they use to getpeople’s attention. They do have a few items on the counter for impulse purchases, but that wasthe extent of their thoughts into product placement. I noticed right away that the kids cerealsaren’t strategically placed at kid eye level. They also cater to a rather well-informed marketplacewith the locals so they carry things like gluten-free flour despite their rather limited selection ofmost things.
Produce is pretty well-displayed. In general, the lighting was just so-so and it was a bit cold inthere for my taste.
Most people seem to come in on a mission. Given that I was there at 4pm, that mission generallyled them to the beer cooler first and then on to some snacks. As you can see, there is moneyhanging on the wall behind the counter from all over the world since so many people come to thePark from other countries. It’s an interesting place in that it brings so many cultures together inthis po-dunk, quaint little market. As I was walking out the door, I couldn’t help but notice that theguy behind the counter was also wearing a shirt the same color as the floors and the awnings.Coincidence? Maybe…