(July 30) If you (retailers) build it, they (shoppers) will come.

That’s the message from MountainKing Potato, Monte Vista, Colo., in its latest promotion involving tape measures, tool belts and work gloves. The merchandising program also uses recipe books and fliers just for, well, good measure.

The Building Fresh Sales promotion combines store incentives and consumer awareness and aims to combat high summer potato prices nationwide by winning back shopper excitement, said John Pope, vice president of sales and marketing for MountainKing.

“The potato market is pretty high right now, and we know that these guys in the stores have been hearing some static from the consumer about it,” Pope said. “We want to reinvigorate the customer and get stores excited about building big displays.”

If they are lucky enough, more than just increased sales and customer loyalty may befall the retailer, said Andreas Trettin, MountainKing’s director of marketing.

As part of the promotion, which figures to run until mid-October, Pope said, MountainKing sent select retailers the aforementioned leather tool belt, complete with potato dish recipe cards, hardware supplies, posters and a disposable camera. Retailers are encouraged to send MountainKing a photograph of their display. Each entry receives a Home Depot gift card, with the most effective display — the one showing the largest increase in sales over a six-week period from July 15 to Sept. 15 — earning a fully stocked toolbox or gas grill for its designer.

“Retailers are really getting into this program,” Trettin said. “When promoting our field fresh gold potatoes recently, stores sent in photos of displays with carriages, gold-wrapped potatoes, pick axes and more.”

Pope said he hopes the promotion, which hinges on the benefits of fresh potatoes and their higher nutrition contents, helps dispel many of the myths associated with the tuber.

“Potatoes are sometimes known as a winter and cold weather holiday cooking staple,” he said. “With this package, we hope to conjure up more of a seasonal theme, right out of the field.”

The package has helped Mountain-King reel in double-digit increases in sales, Pope said.

“Fresh is one of the reasons behind what motivates a shopper to select a particular store,” he said. “We want to emphasize the whole concept of fresh — talk about the advantages of fresh potatoes and play up the seasonal dishes and recipes as they relate to potatoes.”

Many of those dishes are being prepared in cities throughout the Southeast by MountainKing chef Barbara Fridiel, who has appeared on morning and afternoon television shows in Jacksonville, Fla.; Tampa, Fla.; Montgomery, Ala.; and Austin, Texas, among others. Fridiel also promotes the firm’s Web site, www.mtnking.com, which offers recipes and product information.