#451: The Summer Sausage Rule


GETTING MORE TALE #451: The Summer Sausage Rule

The owner at the old Record Store was a very smart man.  He learned from everybody and absorbed everything.  He was a virtual encyclopedia of retail do’s and don’ts.  I don’t think anybody would be likely to meet someone who knows more about retail and how to thrive in difficult times.

There were many memorable lessons that I learned there, but one of the rules he tried to drill into managers was the “Summer Sausage Rule”.  This was a display tip that he learned from Mac Voisin, founder of M&M Meats.  This company is now one of the largest frozen food retailers in Canada.  They grew from one to 425 franchises.  You can see why the Boss admired their model, especially when we went into our own (less successful) franchising phase.  We couldn’t duplicate their success by selling used CDs, but the Summer Sausage Rule was pretty simple and easy to apply at a store level.

Here’s the rule:

Mac Voisin noticed that if he displayed only a small number of summer sausage (like one or two links) for sale, nobody would buy them.  There’s something psychological about it.  Customers are less likely to buy one, if there are only a couple out to buy.  Maybe they think “this product can’t be very good,” if there are only one or two out.  Or, perhaps it was, “There are only two left, which means all the best sausage is probably gone.” When Mac displayed dozens of pieces of summer sausage as opposed to just one or two, they would fly off the shelves.  Same product, same store; just different quantities on display.

Therefore, the Summer Sausage Rule, as it applied to CDs and CD accessories was “display as many as you can.”  If you’re selling CD wallets, don’t just price one or two and put them out.  Fill the shelves with them.  Same with CD towers.  If you display two dozen, you’ll sell them faster than if you only put out one or two at a time.  Posters, CD cases, CD cleaners – it doesn’t matter.  If you have the stock, then display it en masse.  You will turn them around much more quickly.

The best rules are often the simplest.  This is one rule that actually worked!   Retailers of the world, take note and learn from a once-tiny now-huge frozen food empire!


A Word on Summer Sausage

It may surprise longtime readers to know that I am not fond of summer sausage.  Considering I often boast of being a proud annual Sausagefester every summer, you might assume I enjoy all forms of cured spiced meats.  I do not.  Its powerful taste and dense meat* do not appeal to me.  Having said that, I find it fascinating just the same.

The most common summer sausage in this area is made by Schneiders, who make a pork based version.  However this is farm country, and just a few clicks north in St. Jacobs, you can buy it fresh in more varieties.  Keep in mind though, what you are looking at here is basically a fat and salt torpedo.  These things will bomb your guts like no tomorrow, so remember:  moderation!



*Aaron, your line here ___________________.


  1. This is a great retail tip and one that I’m sure works because I too find myself hesitating to buy the last of a product on the shelf. As for summer sausage, I ate boatloads of the stuff as a kid but now stay away from store-bought sausage.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The best suasage in the area used to made by a mennonite named Noah Martin. I remember going to his farm as a kid and we had to wait in line every time. It was that good. Since he died another company bought his naming rights and make an inferior product. It was probably too expensive to make it the old fashioned way with quality, so fat is the main ingredient to save money.

    I have a similar rule: Display my sausage year round, not just in summer.

    P.S. The best tasting sausage is hung.*

    * Aaron, you know the drill.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s a great philosophy, but you do run the risk of overwhelming customers too. Too many piles of stuff and it starts to look junky, so it’s a balancing act between getting the stuff in front of them (in quantity) and not making it look like a flea market of shite.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember small town general stores were filled to the brim with junk covered in dust. There was one store I remember buying chocolate bars at that had not been produced in years. The song Hard as a Rock springs to mind.


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