Sweetening Cigar Sales

Small filtered cigarellos represent a real albeit temporary opportunity for convenience stores to rack up sales, so get going before the window of opportunity slams shut. These diminutive cigars have gained strong appeal among smokers laboring to afford cigarettes in the wake of multiple tobacco tax hikes. The price differential between filtered cigars and cigarettes

Coffee’s Popularity Surges

You wouldn’t think something as simple as coffee could prove to be so complex a phenomenon—or one so indispensable to Americans. Turns out America can see its reflection in a cup of coffee—its economic worries, its desires for variety and small-scale luxury, and even its hopes for a brighter future. All of that swirls together

Maintaining Strong Energy Sales

It had to happen sometime. Energy drinks, arguably the most popular convenience store product in the early-to-middle years of the decade, have begun to slow their sharp rise. Call it a correction, perhaps. A report released last month on the category by research firm Mintel showed that while growth in the category from 2005-2010 was

Driving Car Wash Profits

Increasing profits at the car wash depends on two tasks: drawing new customers and tempting current customers to increase the frequency of their visits. Determining which tactics will best accomplish these feats is where it gets complicated. Tactics that are working for many in the industry include touting loyalty programs, embarking on water-saving initiatives, participating

The Keys to Cleanliness

How can you get your employees to excel at a part of the job they probably can’t stand—cleaning the store in general and the restrooms in particular? “It’s a good question, and a never-ending pursuit,” said Tony Bartys, vice president of retail operations and marketing for Valero Energy Corp. in San Antonio. “It’s a challenge,

Strengthening Safe Security

Cash control practices are an essential part of any c-store operation—from having a cash management system in place to training employees in proper security protocol in everyday cash handling and in the event of a robbery. But more often than not, it’s in-house theft that c-stores need to be most vigilant about. “If you have

Understanding Your Foodservice Customers

Now more than ever convenience store executives recognize that both survival and prosperity depend on their ability to adapt to changing customer preferences and the evolving business environment. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the changing role of convenience stores as a foodservice provider for budget-conscious, time-sensitive consumers that have scaled back on restaurant

Fresh from the Farm

Focus on the Franchise   Minimum Franchise Requirements: Net Worth: $750, 000; Liquid assets: $250, 000 Targeted growth areas: Swiss Farms is looking for single and multi-unit franchisees in the following counties: Northern Delaware: New Castle County; Eastern Pennsylvania: Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Bucks and Philadelphia County; New York: Nassau and Suffolk County; New Jersey: Camden,

Express Convenience Centers Comes of Age

At A Glance: Express Convenience Centers   Stores: 19 in the Fox Cities region of Wisconsin. Fuel: 17 proprietary-branded Excelerator stati ons and two BP stations. Leadership Team: • John Schmidt, President and CEO, U.S. Venture • Paul Sippl, Director of Branded Fuel Supply, U.S. Venture • Jim Anholzer, General Manager, Express Convenience Centers •

Planning Your Packaging Needs

With foodservice sales booming and more retailers making the leap to fresh foods, operators are turning their attention to take-out packaging and finding that, with all the options and considerations, choosing the proper packaging can be as tricky as selecting the foodservice program itself. “There are so many things to think about when you’re looking

Sweet Success

There’s little doubt that bakeries are big. Bakeries, pastry shops and bagel sellers are growing at a rate of 5%, according to AnythingResearch.com. When launching a bakery program, convenience store retailers are urged to start with an in-depth market study that profiles the target customer base, current sales in the market area for the product

Maintaining Strong Smokeless Sales

The slew of new regulations governing the sale of tobacco products has convenience store operators scratching their heads and wondering where the next assault will come from and what to do about it. For example:• The federal Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act) went into effect on June 29, 2010. Its goal is to

The Future of Retail Technology

Imagine a day when your customers pay for coffee by scanning a cell phone, and play their favorite music at the gas pump with a quick swipe of a loyalty card. Well, ready or not, such technology is already out there and it’s coming for c-stores—the only question is how soon. As the Millennial generation

Placement Strategy Helps Prepaid Prosper

As the U.S. economic recession continues, it’s no secret that customers are altering their shopping habits to save a few dollars wherever they can. The silver lining for convenience store retailers could be the resulting affinity credit-crunched customers have developed for the prepaid segment. In a credit weary and increasingly online world, prepaid is helping

Lighting the Way

Best Practices for Reducing Operating Costs There is a lengthy list of general maintenance items retailers should have to maximize cooler efficiency. Jerry Lawson, national manager for Energy Star Small Business and Congregations Network, a division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, recommended the following no-cost tips that are designed to help reduce

Convenience on Campus

At a Glance: The University of Northern Colorado Located in Greeley, Colo., the University of Northern Colorado was founded in 1889. The university features students from 38 states and five countries. Other highlights include: • College nickname: The Bears. • A 2009 enrollment of 9,973 undergraduate and 2,175 graduate students. • Student population: 60% female,

Ethnic Fare Adds Foodservice Flair

Sushi in the c-store cooler? Burritos in the food warmer? Mediterranean sandwiches on the menu? Exotic foods are here to stay and becoming more mainstream, spicing up the foodservice section and appealing to a wide audience. With the growth of the Internet consumers today are exposed to new foods they may not be used to

Vying for Customers with Value Meals

McDonald’s has it. Dunkin’ Donuts has it. And if your c-store doesn’t have it, you’re likely losing customers to the QSR down the street. In 2010, featuring a value meal with your foodservice offering is essential to driving new customers through your doors and securing them as regular visitors.  C-stores with foodservice programs are facing

Tapping Into the Buying Power of Hispanic Customers

C-store executives charged with marketing to the Hispanic community may be chagrined to find that there is, when all is said and done, no Hispanic community. Instead, there are many Hispanic communities. According to Chicago-based Doyle Research Associates Inc., “Hispanics possess many cultural similarities like common language, Spaniard ancestry and common religion. On the other

Security by Force

Convenience store retailers are already dealing with tobacco taxes, PCI deadlines and encroaching competition. Now, if officials in Mesa, Ariz. get their way, operators within the city limits will be forced to invest in security measures aimed at reducing incidents of theft. The proposed mandate, aimed at convenience stores measuring less than 7,500 square feet,

The Economic Reality of Recruiting

Just 24 months ago, anyone who wanted a frontline, hourly worker’s job only needed a pulse to get hired. Now, we are faced with staggering unemployment, massive underemployment and tremendous job dissatisfaction. A new report releases from The Conference Board found that just 45% of workers in the U.S. were satisfied with their jobs, the

COLA

Preparing for the Fountain Wars

McDonald’s is preparing an aggressive summer promotion targeting core c-store customers. Another month, another challenge for convenience store operators. Where is the legendary Charles Atlas when the big bad bully tries to kick sand in our collective faces? As I’m sure you’ve heard by now this summer’s bully is, once again, McDonald’s. The hamburger chain

Empowered by Energy Efficiency

With energy costs soaring and customers rewarding sustainable behaviors, many convenience store chains are realizing the need to upgrade stores to be more energy efficient. World marketed energy consumption is projected to increase by 44% from 2006 to 2030, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The increase could hit c-store retailers especially hard

Energizing a Crowded Cold Vault

Energy by the Numbers Although 2009 was the second year in a row of unusual weakness in liquid refreshment beverages’ performance, the worst may be over, said Michael Bellas, chairman and CEO of Beverage Marketing Corp. “Beverages are likely to be one of the first categories to benefit with a job-led economic recovery because they

Enhancing POS Possibilities

With today’s modern technology solutions—and in an economy where every dollar counts—there’s no reason stores should endure employee theft. Thanks to advancements in integrated point-of-sale (POS) systems retailers are not only reducing shrink, but are able to reward customer loyalty in real time, speed up the foodservice line, upsell products to boost incremental sales and

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