The Art of Negotiation

Many convenience stores that rely on vendors to supply their retail operations know there’s some give-and-take involved when it comes to relationship building. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Part of running a profitable c-store business involves effectively negotiating supply contracts and employing solid direct store delivery (DSD) management. Both require experience, a command of a

Kitchen Helpers

Before investing in foodservice equipment, convenience store operators must consider tangibles such as flexibility, return on investment, market demographics and menu offerings. By Howard Riell, Contributing Editor Purchasing, operating and maintaining foodservice equipment is becoming increasingly important for convenience stores, making experience, expertise and careful management essential. All of the factors that go into an

ATMs Generate Returns

ATMs have always been valuable tools for c-stores, and with the possibility of rising debit card fees, that value figures to rise. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor In an economy where more and more U.S. consumers have less access to big bank accounts, ATMs are still considered a viable commodity in the convenience store channel.

Meat Snacks Feed Demand

Meat snacks appeal to consumers for a lot of reasons, and each of them presents opportunities for c-store operators to bolster sales. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Most snackers prefer savory quality, robust flavors, inherent convenience, relatively low price points, health benefits and, of course, related promotions. Savvy retailers know how to take the best

Cigars in the Light

For convenience stores that count on margins from cigar sales, the FDA recently introduced uncertainty into the mix. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor The ongoing legislative assault on tobacco products continues, leaving c-store operators with unanswered questions about the future of their tobacco sets, including cigars. The latest is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s

RYO Faces the Future

Roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco isn’t immune to regulatory policy, but still has the equilibrium to remain a solid industry player. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco remains a segment in flux, tied as it is to such diverse factors as the health of the economy, the price of gasoline and stiffening federal and state

Sweet Snacks Pack Variety

While indulgent sweets are still preferred by many U.S convenience customers, more consumers are spending their snacking dollars on healthier options. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Convenience store operators continue to walk a tightrope, balancing consumers’ love of sweet snacks with their intent to eat healthier. Still, America’s sweet tooth isn’t going away any time

Salting Away Sales

Americans’ continuing hunger for salty snacks is keeping convenience stores at the forefront of a booming industry. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Americans’ love of salty snacks continues unabated as snacking occasions increase, shelf sets include more variety, spicier flavors gain wider acceptance and niche marketing grows in importance. The snacking trend continues to gain

Paying Heed to Food Safety

With the increased emphasis on quality foodservice, maintaining in-store equipment is necessary for keeping a clean image. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor In the wake of the publicized instances of food-borne illnesses such as the Norovirus outbreak at Chipotle, more convenience stores are protecting their operations against similar operational risks. Many c-store operators are looking

How to Brew a Better Coffee Program

More convenience stores are expanding their coffee programs to deliver quality and value to customers. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Convenience store operators are growing increasingly creative with their coffee programs— emphasizing quality and variety, while engaging and educating consumers on the latest category offerings. According to a recent Packaged Facts report, innovations are providing

How Meat Snacks Are Evolving

Because consumers have a variety of options, flavors and textures to choose from, this hearty category promises to be even more profitable in 2016. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor New flavors, healthier options and combination packs have created a marketing force that promises to drive meat snacks sales even higher in 2016. With more emphasis

What’s Ahead For Cigarette Sales?

If increased cigarette shipments are any indication, category sales could be robust in 2016. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor This past October, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau reported that cigarette shipments for the first half of 2015 had increased from the same period the previous year—the first year-over-year increase in cigarette shipments

Art and Crafts

Craft beers continue to entice convenience customers with homestyle brands and broader selections. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Craft beer has been a surprising boon to the convenience store channel for the last couple of years. As more specialty beer options have flowed, consumers have spent more and retailers have responded in kind with a

How To Succeed With Smokeless

Because of consumer loyalty, smokeless tobacco is holding its own in terms of category sales. By Howard Riell, Contributing Editor Sales of smokeless tobacco products remain steady at convenience stores, as many smokers seek alternative tobacco products for areas where cigarettes are not allowed. But the category continues to face hurdles when it comes to

How To Win With Coffee

The best means for c-stores to edge out the competition lies in promoting quality and providing better value.  By Howard Riell, Associated Editor When considering a quality coffee product, differentiating the offer from those of competing convenience stores and quick-service restaurants (QSR) is vastly important, experts say. However, too much thinking and tinkering can result

How To Entice Sales With Meat Snacks

Craving more protein, meat snack-hungry consumers are boosting convenience store profits. By Howard Riell, Contributing Editor protein-packed snacks, and meat snack manufacturers are responding with new and varied flavors, from gourmet to bold. To maximize sales, canny retailers are using promotions, packaging, consumer demographics and merchandising to make the most of impulse opportunities. The meat

How to Appeal to Snackers

From candy and chips to popcorn and jerky, U.S. snacking isn’t defined by one consumer trend. Still, convenience stores are positioned to capture the bulk of them. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor There are few things closer to Americans’ hearts than snacking—in all its textures and flavors. So, it’s not surprising that the snack category

How to Increase Cigarette Sales

Cigarettes remain a staple of c-store business despite the constant scrutiny the category attracts. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Despite increasing regulations and an incremental erosion of its once wide consumer base, cigarettes in the past year have shown a remarkable ability for bouncing back. Cigarette sales at convenience stores for the 52 weeks ending

How to Bake Up New Sales

As customers demand fresh and healthy fare, c-store operators share how they’re adapting to customer preferences. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor More convenience store operators are making bakery a priority, either through in-store programs or partnering with national brands and local bakeries that convert their locations into destination stops. “We have recently added a site

How to Compete in the Health and Beauty Categories

Health and beauty aids can rouse additional in-store sales with the right presentation. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Though retail channels continue to blur, one category where convenience stores still trail their mass, drug and dollar store counterparts is health and beauty aids (HBA). One advantage that does work in c-stores’ favor is, of course,

How to Control Operating Costs

The two largest expenses a convenience retailer often faces are labor and inventory, but costs can creep up anywhere. Experienced c-stores, however, have learned how to combat such costs. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor It is a truism in business that you cannot save your way to prosperity. Somebody probably also said once that containing

How to Win With Wine

Convenience stores are paying heed to customers’ thirst for better wine selections. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Wine usually isn’t top of mind for consumers when they stop at a convenience store—which is why operators need to draw their attention to the category, which can provide some good incremental sales. This past August, Technomic reported

How to Strengthen Smokeless Sales

Despite hurdles, smokeless tobacco sales continue to grow. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor As America continues its love/hate relationship with cigarette smoking, smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products (OTP) sales continue to inch higher. At the same time, smokeless and other forms of tobacco continue to face hurdles in the form of local restrictions. For

How C-Stores Are Equipping Themselves for Success

Foodservice is becoming increasingly integral to c-stores, and key to any foodservice program is possessing and maintaining the right equipment for the job. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor In the face of traditional thin fuel margins and flagging cigarette sales, foodservice has continually grown as a way for many c-stores to maintain decent profit levels.

How Legislation and Taxes Are Affecting Cigars

C-store operators looking to grow their cigar business need to keep one eye on their customers and another on legislators looking to raise OTP taxes. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Several states continue to consider excise taxes for cigars and other tobacco products (OTP), while others look at raising the smoking age and enacting outright

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