At Festival Foods on East Washington Avenue in Madison, customers are smiling in the produce aisle — and it’s not over the sale on strawberries. Instead, they are admiring the work of grocery stocker Brad, whose vegetable designs are intricate and eye-catching.
Using the produce “wet wall” as his canvas, Brad arranges scallions, radishes, peppers and endives into colorful designs. The white ends of scallions frame bright red radishes arranged in varying shapes. Bell peppers add dimension and a pop of color while fresh flowers are often used as a finishing touch.
On holidays or weekly happenings, Brad does something special — a “W” for the Badgers or International Women’s Day, the word “LOVE” for Valentine’s Day and “2018” to mark the New Year are just some of his more memorable designs.
The vegetable art, which changes daily, started as a company-wide initiative to make produce aisles more attractive. “It’s a company-wide act,” says Brad. “Every store, as far as I know, has an onion and radish display where the stockers are encouraged to display it nicely or creatively.”
Brad, however, has gone above and beyond. He starts by pulling out damaged vegetables and restocking them with sellable product. He sometimes plans a design a week or two in advance. Other days, he simply creates one on the spot.
“The design depends on a lot of variables — how much time I have, how busy the store is and how much product I have to work with,” explains Brad. He says vegetables offer certain restraints because of their different shapes, sizes and quality levels. “It can be a chore to figure out how to cover the space, which is really the goal.”
But however difficult the process may be, the customers’ reactions make the work worthwhile, he says…