Getting (and Keeping) Customers Inside

Looking for ways to keep your customers coming into your store? You’re not alone. Consumers may understand that convenience retailers need to raise prices, but that doesn’t stop them from buying elsewhere, especially when it comes to buying prepared food. “Food is certainly a good draw, but it’s one of several important factors,” said Sandy

Progress in Processing

Convenience store operators’ turbulent relationship with the credit card industry is set to enter a new phase in 2009 as a pair of legislative initiatives—one for consumers, the other a point of serious contention for retailers—come front and center. From both angles, facing off with credit card companies over the huge profits they’ve been reaping

Small Booths, Big Ideas

Sure, there were mammoth setups at the NACS show at McCormick Place in Chicago last month.  Some, like the energy drink makers whose legions of gorgeous gals were sporting free samples, boasted booths worthy of their own postal code. Likewise with the Dresser Wayne and Gilbarco Veeder-Root displays, whose setups offered a cornucopia of innovative

Hide ‘em or Flaunt ‘em?

Wisconsin architectural historian Jim Draeger figures two schools of thought exist in American towns where gas stations or c-stores are introduced. He calls these schools the “hide ‘em or flaunt ‘em approaches.” In the “hide ‘em” school, town planners want gas stations or c-stores to adopt architectural flavors that reflect the community’s subjective tastes. Colors,

Ready to Go

Shame it isn’t as simple as signing on the dotted line. "You’d think," said Lynn Mitchell, one of six owners at the new RediGo Food Mart chain in Lake County, Ohio, "that we could sit down, have a few beers and come up with a name." But then you’d be thinking like someone who never

Alon Emerges

Alon USA At a Glance: Alon USA is a Dallas-based independent refiner and marketer majority owned by Alon Israel Oil Co. Ltd. It was formed in 2000 when Alon Israel purchased the downstream operations of Atofina Petrochemical. Today, Alon owns and operates the Fina fuel brand and Southwest Convenience Stores LLC (SCS), the largest 7-Eleven

Food Sales: Keeping Current and Competitive

Too many consumers still think Famima is a Japanese specialty foods marketer, admitted Hidenari Sato, executive vice president of the Los Angeles-based convenience store chain. However, while Famima stores are attracting more and more new customers every day to correct this misperception, the fact that Famima has a notoriously great sushi program is a tremendous

Driving Traffic with New Products

Increased channel blurring is making it tougher for convenience stores to retain existing customers—and harder yet to develop loyalty in new ones. With drug stores like Walgreens and Rite Aid now selling beer and wine, Dunkin’ Donuts offering a wide array of drinks, and fast feeders continuing to gobble up market share by offering consumers

Prototypes with Plasticity

The successful development of a convenience store prototype is a bit like an exercise in finding one’s soul.  Half the soul-searching is done through scrupulous examination of all the internal components, while the rest is done by accounting for all the external forces that perpetually shape the inside. Sound spiritual and cryptic? Maybe just a

Onboarding: The Key to Valued Employee Retention

Branding, corporate identity and corporate image are just a few of the buzzwords the folks in the marketing department use to describe the basic building blocks of a comprehensive business development plan. What these terms have in common is that they’re all about communications. Simply put, as every convenience retailer knows, the world won’t beat

Driving New Profits

Fleet Card Facts There are an estimated 650,000 fleets in the U.S. for a total of nine million vehicles. Currently, fleet cards are the fastest growing segment of MasterCard’s business. Most fleet cards offer valuable and robust reporting/management tools The tools can track mile-per-gallon variances, driving patterns, fuel purchases, calculate various tax exemptions and more.

Creating Loyal Customers

Faced with rapidly escalating costs, cutthroat commodity pricing and broader competition, the time is right for convenience stores to adopt more aggressive loyalty marketing programs that will attract new customers and reward existing ones. For nearly 80 years, loyalty and frequent shopper plans have proven to be highly effective promotional and brand-building tools for businesses

How Rutter’s Stays on Top

There was a time not long ago in this industry when bigger was always thought to be better. Fortunately, the folks at Rutter’s Farm Stores knew better.  With 52 stores in five Pennsylvania counties, Rutter’s focus has never been on reckless expansion simply for the sake of having a larger store count. Rather, its has

Customers Rate Rutter’s No. 1

Rutter’s topped the York Sunday News’ 2008 “Best of York” rankings in six categories, beating out a number of other national brands. Rutter’s took first place in the six categories evaluated by its hometown newspaper, including breakfast, coffee, deli/sub/sandwich, fast food, lunch and milk. York, Pa.-based Rutter’s bested the likes of Cracker Barrel in the

Clearing The Blends

Ethanol, of course, is a high-octane, liquid, domestic and renewable fuel, produced by the fermentation of plant sugars typically produced from corn and other grain products. Ethanol also degrades quickly in water and, therefore, poses much less risk to the environment than an oil or gasoline spill. Not only is ethanol generally less expensive than

Abundance at Bountyland

The U.S. Marine Corps’ Parris Island facility is roughly a five-hour drive southeast from Bountyland Quick Stop’s Westminster, S.C., headquarters.   That said, new suppliers en route to one of Bountyland’s 11 stores might want to drop by the Marine boot camp and let a drill instructor toss them around for a bit. It’ll spare

New Day For PetroSun

A bid from PetroSun Fuel of Seattle bested a slew of bids from other convenience store and petroleum operators who last month were hoping to snatch up the 600 remaining ConocoPhillips c-store and retail gas sites on the West Coast.  PetroSun’s newly created affiliate, Pacific Convenience & Fuel LLC, acquired the sites and joins the

Failure to Clean Keeps Customers Away

Customers at convenience stores and restaurants are far less likely to return if they find restrooms that are unhygienic or poorly stocked with supplies, according to a recently completed national online survey. The survey, sponsored by SCA Tissue North America and conducted online by Harris Interactive among a sample of 2,175 adult U.S. foodservice customers,

Fertile Ground

WILSON FARMS TIMELINE * 1960: Tops Markets is co-founded by Savino Nanula and Armand Castellani. 1969: Tops Markets opens the first Wilson Farms Neighborhood Food store in Tonawanda, N.Y., naming the store after a company-owned farm in Wilson, N.Y. 1978: Wilson Farms expands in N.Y. to Rochester and later to Syracuse. 1980s: Tops Markets is

Condiments: The New Category

Rick Pajak breathed new life into Wilson Farms’ hot and cold dispensed category by treating condiments less as an afterthought and more as a category of its own. “We look at the condiment section as one of the longest stops in the store,” he said. “Why not give them the right space and right opportunity

Green and Envied

Scott Zaremba grew up in the fuel business. As president and CEO of Zarco 66, the petroleum company his father founded in 1968, Zaremba is battle-tested in the trenches and has the scars to prove it. But what motivates this savvy industry veteran every day is the opportunity to push the boundaries of creativity and

Profit$ You Can Bank On

Here in the 21st century, providing c-store customers with financial products and services like money orders, check cashing, ATM access, electronic bill payment and payday loans can be as easy, and as necessary, as selling soda, candy and beer. But it requires a bit more thinking. Convenience store operators are increasingly partnering with providers like

To Boost Sales: Add Helium

Somewhere around elevation 16,000 feet, Kent Couch might have been wondering if he’d bump into the tip of the bar graph charting the rise in credit card interchange fees.   Or maybe he was just too busy enjoying the view. “It’s just a beautiful way to see Oregon,” said Couch, 48, a two-time cluster-balloon flyer

Shell Games

Maybe there’s still a bit of debate on the medical merits of catharsis, but Bobak Bakhtiari could be the man to put the issue to rest. "Does it further ignite aggression?" asked Bakhtiari, a former counselor at a California psychiatric facility who now runs Tanforan Shell, his family’s convenience store and carwash in San Bruno,

Shoppernomics 2.0: The Not-So-Perfect Storm

There’s a host of ingredients contaminating the retail environment these days, with shoppers dogged by rising costs in energy, food and basic necessities. As a result, shopping habits are being radically reshaped in this new and uncertain environment, said Thom Blischok, president of consulting and innovation at Information Resources Inc. (IRI). "We are living in

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