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O.C. Business Plus | HEARD ON THE BEAT / RETAIL

Pink Dot Dumps Its Funky Beetle

July 07, 1999|LESLIE EARNEST | Leslie Earnest covers retail businesses for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7832 and at leslie.earnest@latimes.com

The Pink Dot grocery delivery service will roll into Orange County on July 29, but without its signature polka-dotted, propeller-topped Volkswagen Beetle and its "wind-up" key.

Market tests revealed that Orange County residents want their purchases delivered in "more low-profile" vehicles, spokeswoman Cinnia Finfer said.

"Our focus groups showed that Orange County's target customer doesn't care for Pinkymobiles," Finfer said. "You've got to give what your customer wants."

The Los Angeles-based Pink Dot promises to deliver food, alcohol and over-the-counter drugs to customers within 30 minutes for a $2.99 fee. The company, which delivers from 9 to 3 a.m., also prepares sandwiches, salads and pasta dinners.

Pink Dot's first Orange County warehouse will be in Santa Ana, serving that city as well as sections of Tustin, Orange and Garden Grove. Later, the company plans to open distribution centers in Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa and Buena Park.

Pink Dot's fleet of vehicles includes 11 Pinkymobiles. But in Orange County, it will use white hatchback Daewoos to make its deliveries, said Karen Sophiea, chief marketing officer.

The more subdued vehicles will have a lighted sign somewhere on the car and "a dot of some kind" to help identify it, she said.

The company, which has seven distribution centers in the Los Angeles area, says its prices are comparable to those at conventional grocery stores. Pink Dot plans to open another 250 to 300 warehouses within the next five years.

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