Retailing on Two Wheels

With gas pumps out front, automotive supplies inside and the occasional adjacent lube shop, c-stores are geared toward the driving public. But as more commuters take to bikes for exercise, to save on gas or to support a greener environment, one c-store owner is making bicycles his business. A bike commuter and bike mechanic, Edwin


Cultivating Customers Through Loyalty

Customer Commitment The biggest hurdle some retailers face when implementing a loyalty program is getting customers to notice the many benefits. When Mid-State Petroleum launched its loyalty offering last November company Vice President Tony Perez launched a promotion to give away $10,000 in rewards at each of his locations. New customers received a $5 reward

Vendors Help Prepaid Prosper

Prepaid services are revolutionizing the way customers do business today. From unbanked customers to students and others looking to reduce their outstanding debt, prepaid debit cards and bill pay services offer customers a payment solution without the drawback of monthly interest charges. Retailers agree that choosing a vendor that will work with your chain to

Turning to the RYO Category

Since the onset of the April SCHIP tax increase, tobacco retailers have been turning to puffed or extended tobacco to help customers deal with the skyrocketing costs of cigarettes, especially as more customers are turning to the roll your own (RYO) category in an attempt to save dollars. Republic Tobacco’s Gambler is the market leader

7-Eleven Goes Viral Targeting Younger Consumers

The latest 30-day promotion from 7-Eleven features a Battle of the Bands online music contest geared toward music lovers and younger consumers, complete with live concerts around the U.S., and new guitar-shaped Slurpee and Big Gulp cups. The contest marks the first time Slurpee has sponsored a grassroots music competition with music-enthusiasts from across the

Keck Oil Does Sandwiches the Rite Way

For most c-store chains, it goes without saying that foodservice must play an integral part in driving traffic and helping maintain sales at a time when gas and cigarette revenues are down. But with so many possibilities to consider, from adding a Dunkin’ Donuts to developing a stir fry offering, deciding which foodservice program will

Make Coffee More Profitable

Tips for Preparing the Perfect Cup • Always use fresh, filtered water. • Always use fresh, whole bean coffee. Coffee is perishable: use within two weeks of roast date. • Store coffee beans in an air-tight container away from heat, light and moisture. No freezer or refrigerator. • Grind just before brewing—a timer will help

Customer Relations Expert

Ralin Nespeca, the customer contact center manager for Oklahoma City-based Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, learned the value of customer service and an unwavering work ethic at a very young age. Those skills have proved to be a valuable asset on her career path. She joined Love’s in December 2008 as the call center

Sonja Hubbard Paves the Way for Women in Retailing

As CEO of Texarkana, Texas-based E-Z Mart Stores Inc., which operates more than 300 stores in five states, Sonja Hubbard is a true c-store industry veteran. Hubbard was just a child when her father, Jim Yates founded E-Z Mart in 1970 and learned the ropes at an early age. “I grew up with this industry

Competition Brews for Beer Sales

Convenience stores across the country are facing burgeoning competition on beer and wine sales from drug store giant Walgreens, which is branching back into the adult beverages category. Walgreens is adding beer sales due to “a direct response to consumer demand,” said Robert Elfinger, spokesperson for the Deerfield, Ill. drug store chain. It plans to

Fabulous Freddy’s Fuels with Flair

Fabulous Freddy’s is wooing new customers with old tricks. Resurrecting the customer service of decades past, the seven-store chain headquartered in Las Vegas, offers its patrons full-service treatment at the pump, at self-service prices. “Our company’s mission statement is to provide fabulous service to everyone, and one of the ways we do that is to

Turkey Hill Supports its Hometown Heroes

While the recession rages on at home and many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, far too many people have forgotten the work our brave men and women are doing overseas. So, Turkey Hill rallied its own troops to send them a message: You are not forgotten. Last month, the Pennsylvania-based operator of Turkey

Cigars Enhance Flavor Profile

The SCHIP tobacco tax rates that hit on April 1 are costing cigar smokers more, but sales continue to persevere. As of April, the federal taxes on large cigars rose from 20.719% of the wholesale price with a tax cap of 4.875 cents per cigar to 52.75% of the wholesale price with a tax cap

Turning a Foodservice Profit

With many c-stores moving into foodservice to compensate for lagging cigarette and gasoline sales, the roller grill is becoming more important than ever for driving sales. According to industry retailers, among the emerging trends worth noting is the growing popularity of breakfast sausages for the morning daypart, while spicy and ethnic flavors continue to attract

A Higher Calling

Pastor Tom Atchison’s work with those down on their luck has led him to many places, but never did he think he would find his calling at a Texaco car wash and convenience store. As Pastor of the New Beginnings Church in Tampa, Fla., Atchison also runs a program called New Beginnings, which provides transitional

Variety Spicing Up Salty Snacks

In the midst of the recession, more consumers are opting for at-home entertainment, which is good news for the salty snacks category. This trend may account for a jump in sales of chips and popcorn, the quintessential counterparts for an at-home movie.  Last year, salty snack sales totaled $4,962 with a profit of $1,867, a

Chevron Shines at Business Summit

Instead of its usual three-day convention, Chevron hosted a two-day business summit for its franchisee and company owned businesses last month, to discuss the state of the economy and best practices for flourishing in hard times. Key economists spoke on the state of the industry, alternative energy, climate change and the future of fossil fuels.

Roll-Your-Own Climbs Amid Tax Hit

Mounting cigarette costs are driving smokers to test cost-effective tobacco alternatives, such as roll your own (RYO). The 2009 NACS State of the Industry report, which polled 156 retail firms with 20,553 stores as of December 2008, found that pipe and cigarette tobacco sales had the strongest growth of all tobacco products and were up

The Coffee Battle Brews

Convenience store operators need to focus on meeting consumer demand for a quality cup of coffee as McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Caribou all announced plans to step up their brew programs to reel in consumers during a tough economy. About 54% of the adult population in the U.S. classify themselves as coffee consumers, according

The Many Hats of a Marketing Manager

As the sales and marketing manager for Jaco Oil Co., which runs 53 Fastrip stores in California and Arizona, Fred Faulkner’s job is a busy one. Faulkner holds the responsibility of buying for all categories, selecting in-store equipment from deli cases to fountain machines, shaping the deals for purchases, creating the point-of-sale for promotions and

Dipping Into New Profits

In a market plagued by high taxes, declining gross margin profits on cigarettes and the likely possibility of FDA restrictions on tobacco, retailers more than ever need to manage the tobacco category more closely. It’s no secret that the smokeless category has been growing, with big year-on-year gains in new product sales, flavors and line

Taking Convenience to a New Level

The milkman is making his rounds in Mountain Top, Penn. Good2Go is enhancing its convenience offering by providing residents the option of having fresh, all-natural and organic products delivered directly to their front doors. When partners Awais Ahmad, V.J. George and Thomas Job opened the store in September 2008, they had no idea how popular

Light Boost to Beer

Despite tough economic times, sales of beer and wine remain constant even though many consumers continue to “trade down the box,” according to Dan Roane, category manager of alcoholic beverages for Circle K’s Southeastern stores. “The below premium beer segment is doing much better than it has in years,” Roane said. “We actually are seeing

Big Victory for New Jersey Exxon Dealers

The New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store and Automotive Association (NJGCA) and its allies are celebrating a major victory tonight after their First Right of Refusal legislation, which would prevent Big Oil from selling a business location without giving the owner the opportunity to buy it first, passed in the general assembly.   The amended version was

Candy Hall of Fame Inducts New Members

Twelve candy business professionals who have made lasting contributions to the candy industry and two confectionery pioneers are being honored with induction into the Candy Hall of Fame. The official induction will take place this October in Tampa, Fla. at the National Confectionary Sales Association’s (NCSA) 110th annual meeting.   The Candy Hall of Fame