Distributor building superstore chain

Colonial Electric Supply Co., Inc., a Pennsylvania electrical wholesaler, has opened its fifth location in the Spring Garden section of Philadelphia. Like the company's four other locations, this newest branch is designed as an electrical superstore with wide-open and well-marked self-serve aisles. Customers have the option of selecting their own materials or placing orders at the counter located in the center of the store. The superstore layout allows customers to receive material quicker and return to the job site faster.

John Fossett, assistant branch manager, says tools are selling quite well in the new counter area. He believes that's because the full wall of tools for power wiring and datacom installations is well positioned and well lit, which helps attract customers' attention. Customers say they like the layout of the counter areas because they can browse around the aisles, he says. However, some have told him that facility "looks a little too clean to be a distributor's counter area."

The company has more than doubled its sales volume since 1992, primarily by using a marketing strategy that combines constant expansion with a focus on customer service. In 1997, Colonial's King of Prussia warehouse and main distribution center became the first electrical distributor in the Philadelphia area to operate 24 hours a day, six days a week. A family-owned and -operated business, the company's other superstores are located in Downingtown, Warminster, Northeast Philadelphia, and the King of Prussia headquarters location.

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