Thorntons Honored as 2011 Convenience Store Chain of the Year

Outstanding service, a sincere dedication to its team members and an ongoing commitment to convenience retailing earn the Louisville, Ky. chain the industry’s oldest and most prestigious award. By John Lofstock, Editor. The late Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc., once said, “A lot of companies have chosen to downsize. We chose a different path.

Driving OTP Sales

While cigar sales do not approach those of cigarettes, they offer convenience stores better margins. Plus, new flavors and competitive pricing are keeping customers interested in the category. By Joe Bush, Contributing Editor. Other tobacco products (OTP) in general and cigars in particular continue to earn more shelf space in convenience stores, and the higher

Getting Crafty in the Cold Vault

Beer sales are hot right now and driving the push are specialty brews and imports. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Consumer interest in more flavorful food and beverages has led, among other things, to the rise of craft beers. Retailers: Start your engines. Craft beers offer more challenging tastes, authenticity and often even a quirkiness

NACS CAFÉ is Calling

With foodservice taking on an expanded role in convenience stores, retailers can utilize NACS CAFÉ to learn about best practices, new ideas and emerging solutions. By John Lofstock, Editor. Foodservice now accounts for nearly one in every six dollars spent inside convenience stores. Getting foodservice right is no longer just a challenge, it is absolutely

Englefield Oil Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

Three generations of exceptional leadership and a keen focus on employees help the family business reach this distinctive milestone. By: John Lofstock, Editor. To understand the history of the convenience store and petroleum industry is to understand the individual success stories that helped build our great nation. Each company has a unique story, but their

Boosting Fresh Food Sales

Americans are more amenable to buying meals at convenience stores, but won’t budge when it comes to quality, price or convenience factors like portability and packaging. By Howard Riell, Contributing Editor. Takeout food was invented for on-the-go consumers. But a takeout program has to do more than travel at high speeds. Today’s consumers want quality

Foodservice Trends for Hispanic Consumers

Stripes is among the growing number of convenience store chains providing an authentic Hispanic cuisine to attract this growing demographic. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor. Early each morning the parking lots of Stripes Convenience Stores fill up with the trucks and cars of customers wanting to purchase a hearty meal of breakfast tacos, carne guisada

Motivating Employees in a Challenging Economy

Some chains just don’t have the financial resources to give out much-deserved raises and bonuses, but there are other ways to show your staff you appreciate their hard work. By John Lofstock, Editor. To say the least, the past few years haven’t been the best for business. While we have weathered a brutal recession, it’s

Advertising, Marketing, Entertaining and Deducting

Promotional budgets are typically one of the first costs businesses look to slash when times get tough. But understanding available tax deductions can help offset advertising expenses. By Mark E. Battersby, Contributing Editor. Without effective marketing and advertising, customers may recognize the existence of your convenience store business, but they won’t know anything about it.

Don’t Settle for Employee Mediocrity

Training and preparing employees for advancement is one proven method for attracting and retaining these talented workers.  By Mel Kleiman, Contributing Editor. In the course of my more than 25 year’s of consulting and professional speaking work about how to recruit, select and retain the best frontline employees, I have identified one common case of

Developing an Effective Menu

Foodservice operators must regularly develop new products and tweak old ones to pique consumer interest and attract repeat business. By Heather Henstock, Contributing Editor. Nice N Easy Grocery SHOPPES has long offered salads and sandwich melts. But the two menu lines didn’t reach their full potential until the convenience store chain hired three trained chefs

Coulson Oil Sets the Stage for Expansion

With a new real estate entity in place, the company is positioned to grow its chain of dealer-leased stores beyond Arkansas. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Coulson Oil Co., one of the Southwest’s largest independent distributors of motor fuels, took a big step toward continued growth in August with the formation of Coulson Real Estate

Battling City Hall

While dealing with red tape is a common occurrence when dealing with local municipalities, there are tax benefits for businessowners to make the process less costly.  By Mark E. Battersby, Contributing Editor. Thanks to the economy and skyrocketing costs, convenience stores and other businesses are making less money and paying more in taxes while, at

Inspiring Impulse Sales

When stocking up on novelty items, thinking outside the box can help retailers drive big profits. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Retailers are driving impulse purchases with unique novelty products, including big ticket items, seasonal displays and small ring products that make everyday life more convenient. Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc., for example, is making packing easier

ATMs and ADA: Are You Compliant?

While the new compliance standards have been on the ATM industry’s radar for many years. Fully understanding the intricacies of the new rules could be an overwhelming task for many storeowners. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor. The ATM industry is currently facing the most complicated, but critical challenge it has ever encountered—managing the technical, new

Adding a Spark to Tobacco Sales

Customized and novelty lighters offer customers an opportunity to express themselves. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. In simpler times, lighters were used chiefly as a means to an end—lighting up a cigarette, birthday candles or even restarting an oven. Today, however, with the growth of the tobacco accessories category, lighters have become an end in

Sweetening Candy Sales

Avoiding common pitfalls and developing a merchandising plan can boost convenience store confectionery sales. By Heather Henstock, Contributing Editor. Keeping shelves full of customers’ favorite candy, gum and mint brands may seem like an obvious practice for convenience store category mangers. However, controlling out-of-stocks continues to be the top challenge for c-stores managing the candy

The Do’s and Don’ts of Dairy

To drive profits in this core category, c-stores need to create a destination that showcases value, freshness and quality. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Dairy offerings have been dwindling at convenience stores in recent years as operators make space in the coolers for popular items like energy drinks and other healthful beverages. But when stores

Cultivating Loyal C-Store Customers

An effective rewards program can drive new business and increase the average ticket ring with existing customers. By Howard Riell, Contributing Editor. There was a time when loyalty programs were tools used by large chains to reward customers for their daily business. But the times have changed. Convenience store operators of all sizes are now

Love’s Presents Scholarships to Employees

Five employees and seven dependents get some relief on college tuition costs. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores’ Learning With Love’s Scholarship Fund, now in its third year, has awarded $40,000 in scholarships to a number of Love’s employees and their dependents to assist with college costs for the 2011-2012

Stacking the Cards In Your Favor

General purpose prepaid debit cards are rapidly gaining favor with consumers as an alternative to closed-loop gift cards. By John Lofstock, Editor. Sales of open-loop prepaid cards, issued by banks and credit card companies and able to be used at multiple establishments, are only going to go up as more consumers come to appreciate their

Putting the Community to Work

With 20% of its staff now made up of challenged and disabled individuals, VERC Enterprises has earned a reputation as a top employer. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. VERC Enterprises, an independent convenience store, gasoline station and car wash operator in eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire, has reached a new milestone by including challenged/disabled individuals

The Business of Growing

Overcoming the top nine challenges for effectively growing your retail business requires true leadership and patience. By John Lofstock, Editor. The hardest step entrepreneurs take is getting their startup off the ground once and for all. The second hardest step is growing it into the best business it can be. What today’s entrepreneurs and aspiring

Seizing Control of Smokeless Sales

Convenience store retailers are still concerned over the FDA’s involvement in smokeless tobacco, but many expressed optimism that the category can continue to thrive. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. While taxes and regulations haven’t impacted sales of smokeless tobacco products as much as some had predicted, it remains up to retailers to continue aggressively marketing

High’s Debuts Proprietary Fuel Brand

Maryland chain also unveils a prototype convenience store brand as it prepares for the future with a focus on energy efficiency, foodservice and market expansion. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor High’s of Baltimore is taking its convenience store and gas station business to the next level rolling out a new proprietary fuel brand—called High’s BTG—along

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