Crafting a Winning Menu

Great menus don’t happen overnight. They evolve with consumer preferences and food trends. But a few basic steps and a little creativity can help you build a market-competitive menu and keep it fresh and dynamic for your customers. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor  Each day at Cubby’s convenience stores in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota,

Savory & Super Trendy, Meat Snacks Soar

Meat snacks maintain their firm grasp as a top-selling segment. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor “This is not your grandfather’s jerky,” said Norman Deschamps, an independent market analyst working with Packaged Facts, a market research publisher. Indeed, between people’s desire for protein, healthier snacks and premium products, the meat snacks category is undergoing a

Weighing Open-Loop Cards

Convenience stores can generate more customer interest with the right prepaid card program. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Open-loop prepaid cards present an ongoing opportunity for c-stores, especially since the prepaid market is fostering activities that are putting more of these types of cards in consumers’ hands. Open-loop is a term most often associated with

Expansion Funding Options

Large or small, convenience stores can access financing programs that best fit their growth plans.  By Mark Battersby, Contributing Editor Interest rates remain close to their historical lows but financing for many convenience store businesses continues to be elusive. Lower interest rates have translated into lenders and investors being more selective. How then, can convenience

Car Washes Still Sparkle

A car wash can be a profitable venture for convenience stores, but retailers should ensure they do their homework.  By Howard Riell, Associate Editor A well-run car wash operation can do plenty of good for a convenience store, from driving traffic to promoting value and squeezing revenue out of more of the site’s square footage.

Tapping a Trend

Healthier sales of bottled water bode well for c-stores as packaged beverages continue to drive profits. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Flint, Mich., has been the epicenter of contaminated tap water. For more than 24 months, residents have battled authorities over how to clean up the lead-tainted water running through the city’s aging pipes.

Boosting Your Data IQ

From analyzing customers to assessing their inventory, more convenience stores are using operational data to their advantage. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Today, collecting data is clearly essential for convenience store retailers. But capturing and making use of the most pertinent information—from customer analytics to competitive intelligence—can spell the difference between operating in the black

Don’t Be Camera Shy

Advanced surveillance and security products today offer convenience stores more high-tech options. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor U.S. retailers suffered an average shrink rate of 1.38% in 2015, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said this past June. Despite the fact that this is the lowest recorded rate in the past 24 years, that figure represents

Cigars Lighting Up Sales

With consumers reaching for interesting flavors at still low prices, cigars—especially cigarillos—continue to move briskly off of convenience store shelves. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor According to IRI’s convenience store statistics for the 52 weeks ending July 10, 2016, cigars notched nearly $2.7 billion in sales, a 6.19% increase over 2015. Units rose 10.17%. To

Boosting Beer & Wine Sales

With an increasing number of c-stores investing in enhanced beer and wine programs, it pays to be aware of the stop-start journey bound to occur. By Lisa White, Contributing Editor The convenience channel has made great strides in the beer and wine segments, not only in catering to customers looking for ways to save time

NOCO: Expressing Success

As on-the-go needs of convenience store shoppers evolve and change, New York’s NOCO Express is positioning itself as a go-to destination. By David Bennett, Senior Editor Like many regions, western New York is a microcosm of the convenience store industry and its developing penchant to provide more wholesome snacking and food offerings, reflecting the growing

Stirring Coffee Innovation

Cold brew may be trending, but a quality cup of hot coffee with the option for customization can woo any morning commuter. By Erin Rigik Del Conte, Senior Editor Coffee has seen surge in innovation in 2016 from the rise of cold brew and nitro coffee to unique coffee cocktails in the restaurant industry. Cold

Lowering Energy Costs

When it comes to streamlining energy operations, convenience stores are leaning more on technology. By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Editor At the Krakow Store, a privately-held convenience retail company, a 20-by-12-by-8-foot walk-in beer cave at its location in Washington, Mo. generates regular customer traffic. When the owners added evaporator efficiency controllers inside, the company eventually realized

Jersey Boys

After launching a new travel center in New Jersey, New York’s Bolla Oil is now eyeing a dozen new-to-industry sites in the Garden State. By John Lofstock, Editor Bolla Oil has never been afraid to take a gamble on a unique opportunity, so when the chance to enter the New Jersey market presented itself, the

Cueing Food Deals

It’s not enough to have great-tasting offerings in today’s competitive marketplace. It also takes savvy marketing to determine the difference between lackluster and stellar foodservice sales.    By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor Planting the foodservice seed with consumers should happen before customers walk in your front door, said a report from Datassential. The research company learned

Reaping Sandwich Rewards

Despite the challenges, prepackaged sandwich programs remain big traffic drivers for convenience stores committed to quality. By Lisa White, Contributing Editor Some may contend that convenience stores have a love-hate relationship with prepackaged sandwich programs. There no doubt is profit potential with these products, but overcoming negative perceptions as well as the inevitable shelf life

Transparency in Chicken

Chicken continues to gain momentum as a foodservice favorite. At the same time consumers, especially Millennials, are more discerning about the background and preparation of the chicken items they purchase.  Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor To find chicken that was fresh never frozen, organic, free from antibiotics and artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, consumers used to

Measuring the Cost of Loyalty

Most U.S. retailers operate a loyalty or reward program, but far fewer figure out the return on investment. By CSD Staff Members of retailers’ customer loyalty programs generate between 12-18% more revenue for retailers than do customers who are not members of the loyalty programs, according to new research from digital provider Accenture Interactive. Those

Water, Tea and Gen Z

Younger consumers are redefining top sellers among packaged beverages. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor Earlier this year, John Archer noticed the display for LaCroix sparkling water in his local grocery store kept growing in size and prominence. He wondered what would happen if he elevated the brand’s real estate in his convenience store As

Reinventing Sobeys Express

It’s still early in the rollout of Canadian grocer Sobeys Inc.’s new convenience store program, but the results are promising. By David Bennett, Senior Editor It’s true that every chain begins with one link. Of course, it helps when you have several other chains to take up the slack, if necessary. Last December, Sobeys Inc.—a

Green Zebra Earns its Stripes

With a focus on healthy food, aggressive expansion plans and a c-store model that evades the boundaries of normal classification, Green Zebra gallops ahead.   By Erin Rigik Del Conte, Senior Editor The moment customers set foot inside a Green Zebra store, it’s clear this isn’t the type of convenience store where “Bubba” buys his smokes

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

Filling a Gift Card Niche

Gift cards come in many varieties, providing convenience stores the flexibility to generate more sales. By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Editor Technology is increasingly impacting the way convenience stores sell gift cards. As a result, c-store retailers are changing their marketing approach to meet this merchandising metamorphosis. Specifically, the technology that’s spurring a new era within

Probing Scan Data

Convenience stores are analyzing scan data to better determine what items to carry, how to optimize penny profit, improve promotions and target customers more effectively. By Lisa White, Contributing Editor For 17 of John Tomlinson’s 19 years as director of merchandising and purchasing for Duchess Shoppe, he relied on sales rep data to determine what

Beefing Up Foodservice Sales

While burgers, sausages and brats have long been c-store staples, you can dress them up so they’re your next foodservice stars. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Assistant Editor At Rutter’s Farm Stores, purists can get their hamburgers and cheeseburgers au natural. But the York, Pa.-based c-store chain did not become a foodservice destination by playing it safe.

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