visionary

Jim Fiene started his c-store career as a thirdshift worker at a Speedway SuperAmerica store while studying cinematography at a Milwaukee technical college. He dreamed of one day making movies as a big-time Holywood director, but he soon realized the convenience retailing industry provided all the drama and excitement he could ever want. "I thrive

centralized production

Central Ohio Energy (Mansfield, OH) opened its commissary about threeyears ago. Company executives saw a need for a fresh and consistent productand couldn't pinpoint a vendor that could provide the quality it needed andbe flexible about returns. The Ohio chain operates nine locations: eight In-n-Out Marts and one Easy TripStore. The Easy Trip, which is

the key to consistency

When a particular category— say, foodservice—accounts for almost 12% of the industry’s total inside sales (which it did last year, per the National Association of Convenience Stores’ State of the Industry report), retailers will work to control it as much as possible. In fact, retailers have spent millions of dollars and man-hours to add cost

Decision Makers – August, 2005

- Stop’n Go of Medina (Medina, OH) has named Rich Frank as its new general manager. Frank had been with Stop’n Go as a consultant and project manager for two years and was instrumental in the implementation of a number of projects, including a prototype Stop’n Go store that opened in late April. – R.J.

cultivating the greyfields

If a recent visit to one of Philadelphia's premier retail attractions is any indication, America's specialty shopping destinations are in trouble. In late June, I visited Philly's South Street, a kitschy shopping district on the outskirts of Center City known for its funky shops and coffeehouses, "colorful" characters and plenty of places to pick up

open pantrys golden egg

Open Pantry Food Marts used its coffee program as the centerpiece for its new bistro-like stores. It’s been so successful that now the company is set to open its own standalone coffee shops. Bubba has always been Open Pantry Food Marts of Wisconsin’s bread andbutter. But if it was going to attract female customers ages

the most unlikely real estate

Forgive me if this note gets too personal. About 12 years ago, my then-girlfriend (now wife) Donna and I were traveling the Garden State Parkway to pursue some R&R down the Jersey Shore. Ninety minutes into our trip, we pulled off at the Frank S. Farley travel plaza to load up on provisions and to

new recruits

BP enlists a third-party ’matchmaker’ for help in recruiting African-American Executive leadership at BP West Coast Products LLC (La Palma, CA) hasbeen faced with the difficult challenge of attracting African-American franchiseesto its ampm store brand. The stores, which market ARCObranded gasoline, arenot being viewed as an attractive option by African-American entrepreneurs,according to Tony Padulo, director

phat threads for mickey ds

To make its uniforms more appealing to employees, QSR king McDonald's is preparingto invest $80 million in new duds that could put employees on People magazine'sBest-Dressed List. A report in Advertising Age says the chain has had serious discussionswith design moguls Russell Simmons, P. Diddy and Tommy Hilfiger, among others,to develop uniforms that riff on

valeros got a brand new bag

Valero expects customers to munch as many as 1.5 million bags of its new Fresh For years Valero Energy Corp. has offered a proprietary line of sandwichesunder several brand names. Two years ago it took a step into the bottled watercategory with three packages of spring water under its Fresh Choices label.Its most recent proprietary

deliverance

Pizza delivery didn’t work out as expected for this small Carolina chain. Mike and Brad Woodie were probably the type of kids who weren’t afraidto fall off their bicycles. The two—president and vice president, respectively,of Woodie’s (Charlotte, NC)—looked at the neighborhood around their newestWoodie’s store in uptown Charlotte and saw loads of high-rise apartments, condosand

dealmaker

Rick Klyczek is what you'd call a NOCO "lifer." He started working for New York's NOCO Energy Corp. right out of school as an assistant manager in the company's NOCO Express retail division. He quickly moved up through the ranks to become store manager and then district manager before moving into various executive-level positions at

are you flushing profits down the toilet

Restrooms aren’t just another convenience for customers, especially as foodservice When VERC Enterprises (Duxbury, MA) first started offering restrooms, all the facilities had exterior entrances. It wasn’t the most convenient set-up, but the 20-store chain felt they would work just fine—until a customer brought something unusual to the attention of the manager of one of

clicking for bargains

Looking to rediscover a long-lost childhood toy and pick up a new roller grill at half the cost? Point your mouse to eBay.com Only five weeks elapsed from the day Raymond Hall decided to open his own restaurant to the day he had all the equipment he needed to operate his Riverside Deli in in

restroom riches

Everything in the restroom is a cost center

outfoxing the competition

Inventive car wash operators find faithful ’companions’ in pet owners wanting to pamper their pups. Most dog owners would associate the word “loyal” with their furry, four-legged friends. And retailers—specifically those with car washes—are hoping they can make the same association with all types of pet owners. While dog washes came into vogue in 2003

mopping upwithout the mop

They say the minute a robot can do a job is the minute a person is no longer required to do that job. Employees might not want to hear that unless it is to perform an unpleasant task like cleaning the restroom. iRobot (www.irobot.com) partnered with The Clorox Co. to develop the Scooba Robotic Floor

cold hard cash

Indiana’s Circle A Food Stores jolts awake its packaged beverage sales with Water is vital to sustain any life, whether it be that of a human, ananimal or a beverage category. Despite a furious wave of new item introductionsin every beverage subcategory, consumers always seem to return to their colorless,odorless and tasteless master. “Our total

coffee talk

Espresso and cappuccino machines can elevate convenience stores to the same level as gourmet coffeehouses. Espresso and cappuccino are hot in more ways than one these days. Espressois an Italian-style coffee, usually made by the cup, using high-pressure hotwater forced through finely roasted coffee to create the distinct potency andflavor. Cappuccino is espresso mixed with

dailys grind

A commitment to compliance and community powers Daily’s in its quest to be Rick Hamilton had seen just about everything by the time he decided to enter the convenience retailing business. After returning home from a tour of duty in Operation Desert Storm in the early1990s, he settled in Nashville and went to work as

Chew on This

Innovation in candy, gum and mints creates big opportunities and even bigger margins for space-challenged category managers. Consumers appear to be shying away from ‘intense’ or ‘extreme’ mints in favor of flavors. Convenience retailers should expect some volatility when it comes to famously unpredictable categories like tobacco and gasoline. But candy? Sweet, innocent candy? In

something to cluck about

Any fresh chicken program requires dedication, but see how a little ingenuity earned these retailers recognition and, oh yeah, thousands of dollars in chicken sales per week. By Kate Quackenbush, Managing Editor Despite their obvious size differences, 170-store Fas Mart Convenience Stores,23-store Johnson Oil and single-store operator One Stop Convenience Store allhave one thing in

effortless eats

A gourmet sandwich program gives Kwik Chek added food sales and additional menu items without adding labor. For a company whose foodservice strategy started out as “fry it, box it and hope they buy it,” Kwik Chek Food Stores (Bonham, TX) has come a long way. About 12 years ago Kwik Chek realized it had

insurance assurance

Lawsuits and fraud investigations targeting the soon-to-be embattled insurance industry have retailers reconsidering the coverage they pay for and from whom they buy it. Until it became the subject of billion-dollar fraud investigations,the mere mention of “insurance” would cause many retailers’ eyes to glaze overwith disinterest. But today, with criminal charges pending and millions of

irving keeps the promise

Irving Oil developed the ’Irving Promise’ as a guide to reinforce the importance of doing whatever it takes to simplify the lives of its customers throughout its network, including its newly reimaged Bluecanoe stores (see Making Over Mainway, p. 18). Irving Oil developed the “Irving Promise” as a guide to reinforce theimportance of doing whatever

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