OTP Makes Strong Push for More Shelf Space

With flavored cigarettes no longer available in the U.S., flavored cigars are in line for sharp sales gains. By Joe Bush, Contributing Editor. There is no secret that cigars, specifically little cigars and flavored little cigars, have grabbed the interest of smokers who can no longer buy flavored cigarettes because of federal regulations. But there

Beefing Up Snack Sales

The prevalence of meat snacks has grown a great deal in recent years as the market has expanded with innovative flavors and new varieties. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. The meat snacks category, which many Americans consider all but synonymous with convenience stores, continues to build sales as well as prestige. New and exotic flavors

Integrating POS Solutions

Speed of service is crucial, but with all the services that convenience stores offer today communication between machines is key. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Greater speed of service and reduced operational costs can both be achieved through new integrated point-of-sale (POS) solutions. Case in point: Kocolene Marketing LLC in Seymour, Ind., which is making

Revitalized Roller Grill Sales

Hot dogs and tornados continue to provide chains with inexpensive, labor-friendly meal solutions that allow store operators to expand their fresh food offering. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. One of the most maligned pieces of equipment in all of foodservice—the roller grill—remains the backbone of many convenience store foodservice programs, offering an inexpensive, labor-friendly way

Choosing the Perfect Pizza Program

Whether going with a branded option or developing a proprietary menu, pizza appeals to a wide variety of pallets.     By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Everybody loves pizza, but which pizza? And what will it take to get it to your customers? These are the kinds of questions convenience store operators need to ask themselves

Weigel’s Marks A Milestone with Aggressive Expansion Plans

As it celebrates its 80th anniversary, the Knoxville, Tenn., chain is opening new stores, embracing an expanded foodservice program and investing in cutting-edge technology. By Erin Rigik, associate editor. With lofty expansion plans ahead, a focus on foodservice and a strong push to capture the elusive female demographic, Weigel’s Inc. is poised to make a

Customers Take Coffee Personally

Convenience stores are expanding their brew programs and condiment offerings, allowing guests to customize each cup. By Heather Henstock, Contributing Editor. Jerry Weiner watched in awe as a customer crafted coffee to her specification at a Rutter’s Farm Store. She combined three coffee varieties in her cup and added at least five different creamer flavors

Managing the Distribution Network

There are endless perks and possibilities for convenience store chains of all sizes that embrace self delivery. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor. In the highly competitive convenience store industry, retailers must constantly search out new ways to control expenses, boost profits and improve margins. For chains of a certain size, self-distribution has the potential to

Packing a Foodservice Solution

Whether prepared fresh on site or delivered daily from a third-party commissary,sandwiches provide convenience stores the flexibility to promote a diverse menu. By Joe Bush, Contributing Editor. Russell’s Convenience Stores got lucky in the mid-1990s when an upstart bakery approached the chain about selling its sandwiches at the chain’s company-owned locations. Russell’s, based in Denver,

Updated: Gulf Returning to its Retail Roots

The iconic fuel brand is expanding into new markets with a fresh image and a renewed focus on operations. By John Lofstock, Editor. There was a time several decades ago when Gulf wasn’t just a downstream oil company—it was an integrated powerhouse with operations across several continents, from upstream to downstream, and with a heavy

Valero Launches Mystery Shopper Program

Stores will be evaluated three times a year to ensure customer needs are met and employees are providing a positive retail experience. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Valero has partnered with Maritz Research to launch a new mystery shopping program, called Commitment to Excellence. As part of the new program, each of the company’s Valero,

EZ Energy Bolsters the Easy Trip Brand

Fresh after moving into its new headquarters, the Ohio chain is reimaging company-owned stores, enhancing its foodservice program and signed a deal to acquire 30 more properties this fall. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. In conjunction with its fourth anniversary year, EZ Energy USA Inc. is prepped for an aggressive expansion of both its store

Frozen Beverages Appealing to Younger Consumers

New products, flavors and sweeteners have helped energize sales. ew market research from Y-Pulse LLC shows that today’s preteens and teens are interested in more sophisticated and trendy beverages, including those served up in convenience stores and even their school cafeteria. In a recent online survey, Y-Pulse asked middle and junior high school students to

Thorntons Inc. Named 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.-based chain the industry’s oldest and most prestigious award. Continuing a tradition it began in 1990, Convenience Store Decisions is proud to announce Thorntons Inc. as its 2011 Convenience Store Chain of Year. Thorntons, which will

Securing the Convenience Store

Effective cash management solutions can be networked and integrated into existing POS systems to provide remote cash monitoring, further enabling a safer retail environment. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Retail success doesn’t just mean keeping money coming in, but preventing money from going out. And while normal business expenses are inevitable, theft is not. Being

Adopting “Green” Practices

MotoMart, Sunoco and Rutter’s Farm Stores are among the top convenience store chains making energy efficiency a priority. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. With operating costs rising at an alarming rate, convenience stores are getting serious about energy efficiency. From LEDs that help brighten stores and reduce maintenance costs, to energy management systems and skylights,

Improving Retail Retention

In a down economy, employees have fewer job opportunities, but retailers would be remiss to overlook company morale simply because employees have fewer options. By John Lofstock, Editor. We live in a 24/7 stressful society, filled with uncertainty in the job market, the economy, competition, etc. A large percentage of employees admit to being unhappy

Protecting Profits with Video Surveillance

Prominently placed security cameras can help deter potential thieves and identify those who do steal. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor. A store cashier pockets the $20 bill that a busy commuter hands him to pay for fuel. A shopper picks up a tube of lip balm and casually drops it into her purse. A customer

Effective Visual Merchandising

By using creative store displays, retailers are making a certain connection with potential customers, one that is long lasting and makes them more apt to make a purchase. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Are you showing your wares as effectively as possible? According to the Convenience Consumer Insights (cci) Panel, the first-of-its-kind mobile research panel

Keeping Pace With Foodservice Trends

Whether it’s a branded food program or a proprietary deli offering, focusing on quality ingredients, outstanding service and consumer needs has helped boost industry sales. By Heather Henstock, Contributing Editor. Consumers are looking for fast service, fresh ingredients and value pricing when choosing a foodservice solution and convenience stores are answering the call with innovative

All Aboard the Organic Bandwagon

Natural and locally-grown foods are among the latest foodservice trends, but can c-stores meet this growing demand without alienating its core consumer base? By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Retailers who toured the National Restaurant Show in May know natural, organic and other healthy food options took the show floor by storm. In fact, the National

Serving Today’s Students

The Rochester Institute of Technology’s Global Village has earned accolades for its new convenience store, restaurants and international flavor. By John Lofstock, Editor. Long known for its high academic standards, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) can add award-winning convenience store retailer to its impressive list of accolades. After nearly three years in the planning

Preparing for the Demand Revolution

In a world of increasingly instant gratification, what customers are demanding and how they want it is beginning to alter the way companies do business. At the 2011 Sweets & Snacks Expo, Rick Kash of The Cambridge Group and author of How Companies Win, spoke on the changing landscape that operators and manufacturers must navigate

Sky’s The Limit at Quick Chek’s Balloon Festival

Record crowds expected at Health and Wellness Sunday to revel in music, food and fun. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Quick Chek Food Stores will kick off the 29th annual Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America, on July 29 at Solberg Airport

VPS Convenience Store Group Plans Aggressive Expansion

Sun Capital’s c-store division is bulking up its foodservice operations and rolling out new tobacco stores across the Southeast. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. With two acquisitions under its belt already this year, VPS Convenience Store Group, an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners Inc., is poised for additional growth, with its eyes focused on opportunities

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