Lessons Learned from Challenging Year

There’s no doubt that 2009 will go down as one of the most challenging years ever for the convenience store and petroleum industry. Combined with the poor economy that plagued marketers all year, credit card fees and tobacco regulations added fuel to a fire that, quite honestly, was already burning out of control. For this

Nice Guys Do Finish First

Congratulations to Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, Convenience Store Decisions’ 2009 Convenience Store Chain of the Year. The Chain of the Year award remains the oldest and most prestigious award in the industry. This year is our 20th anniversary of presenting the distinction to a deserving chain and we’re honored to have recognized some of

Opportunities Abound

The NACS Show is my annual reminder of just how much innovation exists among the many talented retailers and suppliers I communicate with every day. I expect this year’s show—amazingly the 14th of my career—to be one of the most interesting I’ve ever attended. While the event has so much to offer, a black cloud

People Make the Industry

When we decided to acquire Convenience Store Decisions from Penton Media nearly two years ago, we did so with an optimistic view of the convenience channel. The dynamics of the industry and its long-term growth prospects in terms of demographics, population expansion in key market areas, the range of needs it fills on a daily

NAG: Back by Popular Demand

When we purchased CONVENIENCE STORE DECISIONS nearly two years ago, we heard a constantly recurring question: “When are you going to revitalize the National Advisory Group (NAG)?” With the acquisition we had a lot on our plate, but we were always looking at NAG. We examined carefully why NAG withered, and what was the proper

Names to Remember

August is always one of my favorite issues of the year. It’s the month we get to profile convenience store “Chains to Watch” for the next 12 months. This year we’ve focused in on two outstanding chains, Stripes, a division of Susser Holdings in Corpus Christi, Texas, and EZ Energy, a rapidly growing operator based

A Call to Action

Of all the issues I’ve worked on at Convenience Store Decisions, this month’s issue stands out for the sense of urgency conveyed throughout the numerous stories. Beginning with Bob Gatty’s outstanding cover story on the opportunities in the candy category to PCI compliance, Hispanic marketing and emerging tobacco trends, retailers are being challenged at every

Convenience Concerns

I was getting breakfast at my local convenience store recently, an unbranded joint close to my office, when I noticed a new addition to the store. Right by one of the two pay stations was a neatly handwritten sign that read, “No Cell Phones in Line.” I have to admit this message surprised me. The

When One Size Fits All Doesn’t Fit

I have always been a c-store guy, I just did not realize it until I became affiliated with this publication and started paying more attention to the intricacies of the segment.  Thanks to my wife, I rarely go to the grocery store anymore–she actually likes the experience. I also rarely take the time to enjoy

The Tax Train Keeps Rolling

January could not end soon enough. The industry hasn’t seen such a tumultuous month since November 1998 when Congress first turned to tobacco as its financial panacea. Big Brother was at it again last month with the U.S. Senate passing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)—including all of the cigarette and tobacco tax rate

Honoring Our Past

This month begins a very special year for Convenience Store Decisions. Throughout 2009 we are committed to recognizing the leaders and innovators that have shaped the convenience store and petroleum industry and helped create this multi-billion-dollar retail sector. Legends in Retailing will focus on the challenges operators faced in the early days of the industry,

Reaching Your Target Audience

When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise. There’s no doubt we’re trudging through some tough times—it’s been this way for at least the past year. And there’s certainly no “crystal ball” to tell us when it’ll all be over. We might pull out of this down cycle sooner

Feel the Power

Convenience Store Decisions is proud this month to present our Power 25 issue. The Power 25 recognizes industry pioneers, association executives and manufacturers that shape the way the convenience store industry operates. These prominent leaders were selected for the lasting contributions they have made to the convenience channel and the impact their influence has on

Game Changers: Lessons Learned From the Election

The 2008 Presidential election will go down as one of the most dynamic elections in U.S. history. I have lived in my neighborhood for 10 years and have never seen an election that brought more diverse signage dotting the lawns around my home. The most interesting representation of this: A nearby house displayed signs for

Finding Balance

Whether it’s maneuvering the fine line between hard work and spending enough quality time with the wife and kids or walking home after one too many at the local pub, finding the right balance is the crucial difference separating success from a split lip. In his poignant memoir, “From Smart to Lucky: Leadership Lessons from

Overcoming Adversity

Good things happen to good people. That’s an axiom we’ve all heard from the moment we were able to distinguish right from wrong. For Jeff Morris, president and CEO of Alon USA, that was a concept he struggled to wrap his brain around eight months ago. Morris has enjoyed a reputation as a great leader

What’s your “WOW” Factor?

A retailer needs three elements to deliver great service: a warm welcome, a magic moment and a fond farewell. These elements are fundamental for companies like Ritz Carlton and Disney, as well as the growing chain of Waffle House restaurants. Disney, of course, has been a leader in customer service for decades, having more or less

The New Face of Convenience

The late Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s once said, “Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.” Well, the folks at Rutter’s must be drenched.  Fresh off the launch of its convenience store prototype in York, Pa., the executive team at Rutter’s, Scott Hartman, Jeff Leedy and Jerry Weiner,

The Wild Ride Continues

As if industry operators didn’t have enough to worry about, ExxonMobil dealers were greeted with the news that the Irving, Texas oil giant decided to exit direct-store operations by divesting 825 company-owned and -operated stations as well as 1,400 stations leased to dealers. This decision thrust those dealers into an anxious state of limbo, an

Fighting Through the Pain

Everybody wants a piece of the action. That was among the key messages my father taught me when he was running his business. Though he only had three pumps and four service bays, there was no shortage of business partners or associates who wanted a cut when times were good, but were nowhere to be

A Call to Arms

Richard Oneslager enjoys a good joke, so he couldn’t help sharing one of his new favorites. "Did you hear the one about the retailer who sat down with Visa to discuss his interchange fees? Of course you didn’t. Visa doesn’t sit down with retailers!" Oneslager, president of Balmar Petroleum and chairman of the National Association

Steppin’ into Spring and Springing into Summerby Jim Callahan, Convenience Solutions

I recently read a great quote attributed to a one time door-to-door sales person and lately more recognizable as founder of the billion-dollar company that bears her name, Mary Kay Cosmetics. Mary Kay Ash said, “Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as

Saluting Supplier Partners

Retailers may be on the front lines every day, but the presence of their supplier partners is palpable. It can be seen and felt in the marketing and merchandising found at the store level and in the intricate planograms category managers use to set their stores. To get a better feel for the supplier companies

Stepping into Spring and Springing into Summer

I recently read a great quote attributed to a one time door-to-door sales person and lately more recognizable as founder of the billion-dollar company that bears her name, Mary Kay Cosmetics. Mary Kay Ash said, "Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as

Another Satisfied Customer

On a recent tour of convenience stores in the Northeast, I came across an outstanding Mobil store in northern Maine. What caught my attention at this particular store was the clerk who immediately greeted me and told me about the store’s foodservice special that day, a homemade Boston chowder. That I was greeted was not

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