Cold & Frozen dispensed beverages: Mixing it Up in Cold Dispensed

Average per-store sales of cold dispensed beverages experienced modest gains that shouldn’t give retailers pause when they manage this category, as leading c-store chains are showing that big profits can spurt from some tiny fountain heads. Ricker’s c-stores, for instance, a 30-store chain headquartered in Anderson, Ind., has shaped much of its identity on its

Hot Dispensed Beverages: Consumers on the Prowl for Premium

The days of battery acid brewing in a pot on a hot plate are long over, and c-store coffee programs will be hard-pressed to win drinkers these days without recognizing that consumers are on the prowl for premium coffees at palatable prices. A shortage of minutes and money among consumers nationwide is driving demand for

DELI, BAKERY AND PREPARED FOODS: Fresh Remains Key For Customers

The tendency for Americans to want more fresh and fresh prepared food is clearly growing, which is why traditional U.S. convenience stores have been joined by overseas chains like Tesco and Famima. "I think the lifestyle is really changing here," said Hidenari Sato, executive vice president of Famima Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of Japan’s FamilyMart

Chicken: Poultry in Motion with Chicken in Top Spot

One of the most versatile and marketable products in retail foodservice has also become the No. 1 convenience item consumers are choosing in their quest for meat and poultry products. A recent study by the National Chicken Council (NCC) shows that U.S. consumers consider chicken to be the most widely available convenience food product, as

Pizza: Old Tastes Trump New Trends

It seems the future of pizza hinges on just how far retailers are willing to stray from the confines of that traditional pizza box. "If you get too far outside the box, you’ll probably sell less pizza," said Neal Hollingsworth, vice president of marketing at Hot Stuff Pizza. And if you stay cloistered within the

Branded Food: Fast Brands Build Business

Branded fast foods are major league players in today’s convenience channel. Indeed, the 45 chains recently surveyed by Convenience Store Decisions rang up some $380 million in branded foodservice sales last year. A pretty impressive figure, and one that is likely to make any c-store owner’s mouth water at the mere thought of adding a

Technology: Plural Platforms Top Priority

Today’s c-store retailers want technology platforms that will allow them to manage fuel brands, foodservice operations, remain PCI compliant, easily access data and help improve customer service simultaneously. Sound like a tall order? It’s really not, said Jenny Bullard, chief information officer of the Jones Co., which owns 177 Flash Foods stores in Georgia and

Security and operations: Security and operations: Security and operations: Operating Costs Rise Across the Board

The cost of operating a convenience store is up significantly thanks in part to a number of factors, the most glaring being interchange fees and credit card costs. But labor and utilities also experience significantly higher year-on-year gains. The industry’s operating expenses on a per-store, per-month basis rose across the board in 2007, according to

Car Wash and Motor Fuels: Fueling Frustration

Fuel price volatility is here to stay. Marketers must learn how to manage it to their advantage. That was the cold, hard message conveyed in the 2008 NACS State of the Industry (SOI) report. Marketers are urged to pay attention to sales volumes, but also focus on gross margin dollars and to always look at

The Competition: Discretionary Spending Looms Large

For the past decade, the list of retailers that have cut into the convenience store industry’s consumer base has included the usual suspects: Wal-Mart, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Walgreens and a slew of other national brands in a smattering of channels. C-stores are predictably pitted against those same powerhouses in 2008, but the environment is far more

The Customer: Wine Appetites and Beer Wallets

The 2008 consumer, complex and roiling in its many needstates, has become a multi-headed hydra whose rituals and habits are being altered by external forces. It is, however, a creature predictable on at least one front: It always appreciates the convenience and value of the neighborhood c-store. Pinched by rising costs of fuel, food and

Faith-Fueled and Furious

At a jail in Valparaiso, Ind., there’s a rebel musician who’s probably wishing he’d sung just a little bit louder. At a church in San Francisco, there’s a holy man wishing he and his flock had prayed just a little bit harder. And in a backwater town just outside Kansas City, Mo., there’s a new

Technology Driving Safety and Cash Management

Safeguarding c-stores and the people and property in and around them is getting easier and more economical thanks largely to incremental advances in a variety of technologies. Among them: safes that do more, software systems that communicate better and electronic eyes that see more. Theft and mayhem of all types, from gas pump drive-offs and

Corralling the Customers

There’s little debating the sort of purchase Buffalo Bill Cody would make these days if he could ramble into one of the southwest Missouri corner stores that brandish his name. “He seemed like a beef jerky kind of guy to me,” Curtis Jared, president and CEO of Cody’s Convenience Stores, said of the cowpoke-turned-entertainer who’s

Hometown Convenience

Folks in Walla Walla, Wash., say their town is so nice, you have to say it twice. Bill and Loretta Singer (pictured on front) may be inclined to say it three or four times, seeing as the dynamics in this small town 13 miles north of the Oregon border have grown their relatively young convenience

Rutter’s Is Tops With Locals

Rutter’s topped the York Sunday News’ 2008 “Best of York” rankings in six categories, beating out a number of other national brands, the company said. Rutter’s took first place in the six categories evaluated by its hometown newspaper, including breakfast, coffee, deli/sub/sandwich, fast food, lunch and milk. York, Pa.-based Rutter’s bested the likes of Cracker

Uni-Marts LLC Files For Bankruptcy

Uni-Marts LLC, operator of 283 convenience stores in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio, has voluntarily filed bankruptcy, but in the meantime will continue operating most of its stores without interruption. The move, however, will result in closure of at least 45 Uni-Marts stores. The company and six subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions this week under Chapter

Fresh & Easy Adds To Product Lineup

West Coast retailer Fresh & Easy said it added 23 new self-branded kitchen products to its lineup this week, all of which were developed by Fresh & Easy Chef Mike Ainslie. The company also introduced product No. 3 million to stores this week: a 17-ounce package of Fresh & Easy Mashed Potatoes made using only

CHS Exec Calls For Delay On Lieberman-Warner Bill

CHS Inc. Executive Vice President and COO Leon Westbrock drafted a letter this week criticizing the Lieberman-Warner Bill pending in the U.S. Senate. “Next week the U.S. Senate may vote on the Lieberman-Warner bill which is intended to address greenhouse gas issues through a complex program of allowances targeted at our nation’s key industries,” Westbrock

Zarco 66 Station Turning To Turbine Power

C-store chain Zarco 66, of Kansas, is taking its forward-thinking ecological practices a step further by planning green technologies such as the installation of a small-scale wind turbine atop its fuel island canopy, the Lawrence Journal reported. Lawrence City Commissioners gave tentative approval to Zarco 66 President Scott Zaremba’s plans to add a small-scale wind

Altria Pushing OTP Over Cigarettes

Altria Group Inc. told shareholders this week that it’s looking to bolster its OTP business as domestic cigarette sales continue to decline, a decision also motivated by concerns about health, smoking bans and price increases, the Associated Press reported. Altria CEO Michael Szymanczyk told shareholders that while Altria will still be able to build market

Oklahoma City Travel Plaza Switches Hands

An investment group in Oklahoma City, Okla., has purchased the Anderson Travel Plaza in that town, giving the group free reign on almost 11 acres complete with two convenience stores, a trucker’s lounge, a 120-seat full-service restaurant called The Silver Spoon and other amenities at the Phillips 66-branded site. Andrew Geller, managing partner of 333

Calif. Authorities Investigate Card-Skimming

San Jose police are investigating an incident at a gas station where a couple used their ATM card to pay for gas and ended up falling victim to a skimming scheme, news stations in that city reported. The couple said they rarely use their ATM card, and noticed that $1,500 was taken from their bank

TravelCenters of America Adopts E-Payment Services

Coinstar E-Payment Services’ full range of Pay-As-You-Go products and services will be available in TravelCenters of America’s full-service travel centers operating under the "TA", "TravelCenters of America" and "Petro Stopping Centers" brands. The lineup of Coinstar Pay-As-You-Go products includes prepaid wireless, long distance, gift cards, financial services like prepaid re-loadable and one-time gift debit cards

Shareholders Reject ExxonMobil CEO-Chairman Split

Exxon Mobil Corp. shareholders on Wednesday rejected a resolution to bar its CEO, Rex Tillerson, from serving as the company’s chairman, Bloomberg news reported. The rejection also killed plans to have the company adopt greenhouse-gas reduction targets. A proposal to split the CEO and chairman’s roles received 39.5% support at the company’s annual meeting in

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