New Forecourt Moves

Though gas prices have dropped significantly from a year ago, forecourt-driven sales are still a challenge for many convenience stores because people aren’t buying gas as freely as they did several years ago. The reason? Our troubled economy makes it tough for many to afford the long car trips. Fewer trips mean fewer opportunities to

Targeting New Customers

Gaining market share has never been more important than it is today, when a tough economy is forcing customers to hang on to their money longer. This means that c-store retailers seeking new customers need to become aware of what specific groups need in order to improve their marketing strategies. One such group is the

Smokeless Sales Stay Strong

Sorting through all of the dynamics at work in the smokeless tobacco category is proving a complex calculation for convenience store operators and consumers alike. For example: retail prices rose with the April 1 passage of an increase to the Federal Excise Tobacco (FET) tax to fund an expansion of SCHIP, the State Children’s Health

How to Achieve and Maintain ADA Compliance

Ever since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect in 1992, it has dramatically improved the lives of disabled individuals by working to make all public places in the U.S. both accessible and hospitable to those with disabilities. But even though the ADA has greatly helped in achieving a better quality of life

Are Your Underground Storage Tanks Safe?

Convenience store operators who don’t know state regulations concerning underground storage tanks (USTs) from a hole in the ground had better learn more about what’s in those holes and what the government is both offering and expecting from them. Federal mandates requiring a significant increase in biofuels production, for example, have spurred an increase in

Cultivating Customers Through Loyalty

Customer Commitment The biggest hurdle some retailers face when implementing a loyalty program is getting customers to notice the many benefits. When Mid-State Petroleum launched its loyalty offering last November company Vice President Tony Perez launched a promotion to give away $10,000 in rewards at each of his locations. New customers received a $5 reward

Legislative Wrap Up for 2009

With the Democrats controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, this year has seen major federal tax and regulatory legislation signed into law that will dramatically impact the tobacco industry. On April 1, the largest tax increase on a single product in the history of the U.S. became law with the federal cigarette

Vendors Help Prepaid Prosper

Prepaid services are revolutionizing the way customers do business today. From unbanked customers to students and others looking to reduce their outstanding debt, prepaid debit cards and bill pay services offer customers a payment solution without the drawback of monthly interest charges. Retailers agree that choosing a vendor that will work with your chain to

Make Coffee More Profitable

Tips for Preparing the Perfect Cup • Always use fresh, filtered water. • Always use fresh, whole bean coffee. Coffee is perishable: use within two weeks of roast date. • Store coffee beans in an air-tight container away from heat, light and moisture. No freezer or refrigerator. • Grind just before brewing—a timer will help

Customers Indulging in Chocolate

The Benefits of Chocolate Once considered a “guilty pleasure,” researchers now say that chocolate offers health benefits—when consumed in moderation and provided the chocolate is the right kind. International experiments show that dark chocolate has an impressive array of activities, according to the Harvard Health Newsletter. It’s an antioxidant that may improve cholesterol scores and

MAPCO Express Rolls On

While many chains are still feeling the crunch from the current economic recession, others are seeing opportunity. Count MAPCO Express among the companies waiting to pounce. MAPCO Express, a subsidiary of Delek US Holdings, has a long history in convenience retailing. It continues rolling out an upscale convenience store concept, branded MAPCO Mart, and is

Chicken’s Popularity Continues to Grow

Chicken’s economical price and inherent flexibility gives convenience store retailers a myriad of opportunities for growing their foodservice business without sacrificing quality and value. However, deciding whether your stores’ best interests are better served by a branded or proprietary chicken program requires an understanding of the benefits and drawbacks each model offers, said consultant John

Marketing the Menu

The bar has been raised on sandwiches—indeed, on all freshly made to-go dishes—as consumers’ expectations continue to rise and new competitors from outside the c-store universe appear on the horizon. Convenience stores are finding themselves more and more in conflict with players from the fast-food and grocery stores seeking the same “fare” share. With that

Competition Brews for Beer Sales

Convenience stores across the country are facing burgeoning competition on beer and wine sales from drug store giant Walgreens, which is branching back into the adult beverages category. Walgreens is adding beer sales due to “a direct response to consumer demand,” said Robert Elfinger, spokesperson for the Deerfield, Ill. drug store chain. It plans to

Strong Outlook for Meat Snacks

Meat snacks—beef jerky, meat sticks, pork rinds and more—are right at home at U.S. convenience stores. And, despite the rough economy and some sales slippage, new products and popular brands continue to excite customers. Paul Lyons, president and owner of Up North Jerky in Troy, Mich., and a partner, with Sam Kassem and Mike Abdullah,

Driving Cooler Sales

The economy, the environment and the weather. All three are impacting the sale of bottled water this year. From 1997 until 2007, consumers were thirsty for bottles of clear, refreshing water. Between 2003 and 2008, bottled water sales grew 59% to $5.1 billion, making it one of the fastest-growing drinks on the market. Consumers believed

Creating Supply Chain Efficiencies

Getting products to stores more efficiently is now a major focus for all major retailers and distributors. Better distribution means lower costs and higher margins—both items high on c-store owners’ agendas these days—when customers are clutching their wallets more tightly than they have in years. “There are two ways to make money: increase prices or

Fabulous Freddy’s Fuels with Flair

Fabulous Freddy’s is wooing new customers with old tricks. Resurrecting the customer service of decades past, the seven-store chain headquartered in Las Vegas, offers its patrons full-service treatment at the pump, at self-service prices. “Our company’s mission statement is to provide fabulous service to everyone, and one of the ways we do that is to

Changing its Stripes

Susser Holdings Corp. at a glance A dynamic marketer Based in Corpus Christi, Texas, Susser Holdings is the largest non-refiner, convenience store operator in Texas, with additional stores in Oklahoma and New Mexico. It operates 516 convenience stores through its Stripes LLC division and is the 19th largest c-store chain in the U.S. Convenience Store

Acquisitions Fuel EZ Energy’s Growth

EZ Energy USA At a Glance Headquarters: Mansfield, Ohio Stores: 92 (68 company-operated and 24 dealer-operated sites) Total Estimated Sales: $480 million Markets of Operation: northeast and central Ohio, Pittsburgh Retail Brands: ampm, Easy Trip Fuel Brands: BP, Marathon Fuel Volume: 160 million gallons annually While many marketers are struggling to ride out this economic

Pizza Popularity Drives Food Sales

Some version of pizza has been around ever since a working man in Ancient Greece discovered that a flat round bread (plankuntos) embellished with assorted toppings made a hearty, thrifty and convenient dining experience. Little did that anonymous cook suspect that his humble meal would one day launch a major industry. According to Blumenfeld and

Frozen Sales Heating Up

Since its invention about half a century ago, the frozen dispensed beverage has become a convenience store tradition, with three out of every four U.S. convenience outlets housing a frozen beverage bar. While frozen dispensed beverages are not a huge portion of the typical store’s overall sales, the product is profitable, thanks to a gross

Cigars Enhance Flavor Profile

The SCHIP tobacco tax rates that hit on April 1 are costing cigar smokers more, but sales continue to persevere. As of April, the federal taxes on large cigars rose from 20.719% of the wholesale price with a tax cap of 4.875 cents per cigar to 52.75% of the wholesale price with a tax cap

Getting More From Your POS

New electronic point-of-sale (POS) solutions are rolling out constantly, pushing retailers to make wise decisions based on their needs. Moreover, with PCI compliance nearing, finding the right solution can be more difficult. POS system owners typically use only a small fraction of the system’s capabilities, noted IBM global products executive Ralph Jacobson. “We did a

Managing Today’s Retail Workforce

Because major shifts in the economy have created unparalleled effects on the labor market, Convenience Store Decisions and Humetrics Inc. collaborated on our first ever human resources study in order to help convenience store owners understand the actions those in our industry are taking–or planning to take–in the coming months. An in-depth survey asked more

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