Spicing Up the Menu

Ethnic foods continue to trend as consumer demands evolve to include house-made and authentic cuisine. By Erin Rigik Del Conte, Senior Editor Convenience Store Decisions spoke with Nick Powell, corporate chef for QuikTrip Corp. on how the ethnic flavor trend is playing out at the c-store chain and what he’s doing to spice things up

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Tobacco Accessories Face the Unknown

Tied to the fortune of cigarettes, sales of tobacco auxiliary products begin an uphill climb. By David Bennett, Senior Editor Given the market for tobacco accessories, lighters, rolling papers and other product lines produce an excellent margin for convenience retailers—between 40-50% in some cases. More importantly, sales have been steady for the past decade, despite

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Ideal Market Is Growing Its Kentucky Home

Rocket Oil Co., which does business as Ideal Market, just opened its newest store in Hanson, Ky. Going forward in 2017, the family-owned company has even bigger plans. By David Bennett, Senior Editor There’s more to the state of Kentucky than fine bourbon, fast horses and the legend of Daniel Boone. There are close-knit communities,

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Adding Value Via Food Variety

When it comes to satisfying consumers’ cravings for lunch and dinner, convenience stores have it all over traditional restaurants by offering a wider variety of fresh foods through both proprietary and co-branding programs. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor Foodservice may be the new superstar of convenience store sales, but Lance Harris, owner of nine Leebo’s

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Cooking with Flash

As foodservice garners a greater focus in c-stores, new equipment upgrades are making the category hotter. By Anne Baye Ericksen, Contributing Editor When Parker’s recently renovated Parker’s Market Urban Gourmet, its flagship store in downtown Savannah, Ga., one of the primary objectives was to create the space to showcase its expanding foodservice offerings. “We listened

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7-Eleven to Power Texas Stores with Wind

  The c-store chain is integrating alternative energy to blow away traditional electrical utilities in the Lone Star State. 7-Eleven Inc. has signed an agreement with TXU Energy to purchase 100% Texas wind energy for all its Texas stores located in competitive energy markets. The 96-month wind energy agreement, which covers 425 stores, starts June

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Bull, Deuser Elected to NYACS Hall of Fame

Two New York industry veterans earn their way onto honor roll of successful entrepreneurs. The New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) has announced that c-store veterans Larry Bull and Mike Deuser have been elected to the New York Convenience Store Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors individual retailers and suppliers for exceptional

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Celebrating 20 Years of HR at Douglass Distributing

Tamra Bragg has a passion for helping people reach their potential. By Erin Rigik Del Conte, Senior Editor If experience means anything, then Tamra Bragg knows human resources (HR). Bragg has 40 years of total experience in the field and is celebrating her 20th anniversary this April with Sherman, Texas-based Douglass Distributing where she is

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Nye Reaching New Heights at Holiday

In his 41 years at Holiday Cos., Robert Nye has been critical to bolstering the workforce programs that have made Holiday Stationstores a major convenience store player. By David Bennett, Senior Editor A human relations specialist plays a critical role in determining adequate levels of employee satisfaction, resolving staffing conflicts, maintaining workforce management costs and

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Mac’s Crime Prevention Success

As Mac’s works to deter theft, Harvard University is studying the convenience store chain’s approach to crime prevention. By Erin Rigik Del Conte, Senior Editor Mac’s Convenience Stores in central Canada is well known for having a multi-faceted approach to fighting crime and maintaining store security. CSD spoke with Sean Sportun, ICPS manager, security &

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Transitioning to Next-Generation Leadership

Thinking about a change in leadership can be intimidating, but planning ahead can save your business from turmoil should the unexpected occur. By Erin Rigik Del Conte, Senior Editor When preparing next-generation leaders within a convenience store company, the process of transitioning leadership can be challenging at best—especially when it’s a family-owned business. Savvy retailers

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Lower LED Costs Power Profits

Since 2008, LED lighting costs have dropped by 94%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Revolution Now 2016 Update.” LED package prices in 2016 fell to approximately $1/kilolumen, resulting in dramatically reduced LED lamp and luminaire prices. That’s good news for small c-store operators with a few stores, or a larger c-store chain such

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C-Stores Confronting Theft

Organized retail crime (ORC)—defined as professional shoplifting by organized crime rings—is growing, with 83% of 59 merchants surveyed reporting an increase in the past year, according the National Retail Federation’s “12th annual ORC study,” conducted July 20-Aug. 19, 2016. Sean Sportun, ICPS manager, security & loss prevention for Mac’s Convenience Stores in Canada, noted ORC

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Accessories Add Up

Certain product categories rarely undergo major shifts, whether it’s a spike in popularity or a significant drop. You can count tobacco accessories among those in that classification. Sales of lighters, matches, pipes and other accessories either register minimal gains, or at the very least don’t lose major ground in year-to-year comparisons. This is good news

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What’s the Future of Vapor?

Vaping sales haven’t completely vaporized in the aftermath of deeming regulations passed last fall by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For the time being, vaping and e-liquid c-store sales have maintained an upward trajectory in the convenience channel. Information Resources Inc. (IRI), a Chicago-based market research firm, reported electronic smoking devices earned more than

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RYO Remains Viable to Consumers

Roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco should remain a potentially profitable segment throughout 2017, despite lagging sales in 2016. The higher taxation on traditional cigarettes drove many consumers to RYO in previous years, but the increasing parity in taxes since 2009 has prompted a dip in sales. Despite that, solid margins and a growing appeal in the eyes

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Smokeless Sales Grow Strong

On Feb. 7, 2017 the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. (USSTC), a division of Altria Group Inc., issued a nationwide recall of numerous Copenhagen, Skoal, Cope and Husky smokeless tobacco product lines after receiving complaints of foreign objects found in containers. “We go through manufacturer product recalls pretty regularly, but this is the biggest one as

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Taste is Key With Gum, Mints

Non-chocolate candy sales, which include breath fresheners, mints, licorice and taffy, in convenience stores increased 2.4% in dollar sales, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI) Convenience All Scan data for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 25, 2016. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that while mints are providing a category boost, a refresh is needed when it

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Whipping Up Chocolate Sales

One word will drive chocolate sales in 2017, experts say: Snackfection. “Think of snackfection as an amalgam of predominantly snack items like fruits, nuts, seeds, pretzels and predominantly confectionery items like chocolate that are used to create a variety of textures and flavor profiles,” said Sheril Retson, category manager, center of store at Chevron. “For

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Variety Vital in Seeds, Nuts

Many customers dash into a Maverik convenience store looking for a quick snack to take along on whatever adventure they have planned, whether it’s heading to the office or on a mountain hike. Often they choose a package of seeds or nuts, according to Ryan Morton, category manager for snacks and groceries at Maverik, the

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Carving Out Meat Snack Sales

Once beefy, sales of meat snacks at convenience stores are being sliced away by customers’ declining interest in limited flavor and texture options. Dried meat snacks sales in convenience stores experienced a dramatic drop in the last two years. Dried meat snack sales jumped 11.16%, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), total All Scan c-store

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Ethanol Fuels Show Promise

Fuel sales have been the backbone of gas station operations since rumble seats were considered extreme in the 1930s. Today, that fact still remains as 80.1% of convenience stores (123,807) sell motor fuels, according to the “2017 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count Study.” Of course, in some 90 years of fuel trends, one of the

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Energy Shots Still Compete

Energy shots satisfy the need that drives many customers to convenience stores in the first place: something fast and convenient to help them rocket through their busy day. However, the segment has been overshadowed for the last few years by a dynamic energy drink category. Dollar sales of energy shots, including 5-hour Energy, Stacker 2,

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Adding Juice & Tea To the Mix

Both the juice and tea segments have experienced expansion when it comes to flavor innovations as well as more healthful ingredient profiles. Millennials and younger consumers tend to seek out a variety of ready-to-drink tea and juice flavors, according to Los Angeles-based market research firm IBISWorld. Also, tropical flavors like mango and pineapple have been

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HBA Items Fill Niche

Because of space constraints and better-equipped competitors, the health and beauty aids (HBA) category in 2017 will fill a role that it has for years in convenience stores: an essential, but unspectacular part of the in-store mix. From pain relief, cough/cold/allergy, skin medications, vitamins and personal care to smoking cessation, supplements and cosmetics, HBA is

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