Virginia C-store Owners Converge At Expo

Independent store owners find power in a united front.

Virginia convenience store owners, on July 28, flocked to the Richmond Raceway Complex in eastern Henrico County to view the latest products and services from vendors at an expo sponsored by the Virginia Asian American Store Owners Association, the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported.

This year the organization—just two years old—grew to nearly triple its membership to more than 1,000 members, strengthening of the association.

The Virginia association is part of a network that began two years ago in Florida. It marked the second such association in the country, and was followed soon after by a similar association in New Jersey. The network is now working to create an association in Maryland.

“For the independent owner to have power we have to be united,” said Minesh Patel chairman of the association, told the Richmond-Times Dispatch.”The goal is to have one Asian American association in every state.”

Michael Davis, vice president of member services for the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), said NACS is working with the Asian American state associations on education and issues that affect store owners.

Patel said he expects to soon begin working with vendors to secure better pricing for association members in Virginia and, hopefully, begin leveling the playing field.

“It’s very difficult to compete with the big boxes. For the individual owner to have power, they have to be united with one voice,” he said.

Big chains found the expo useful as well. Steve Rhodes, development manager for convenience store chain Circle K’s mid-Atlantic region, met owners who might want to become franchisees. “We’ve gotten some great leads,” he told the Richmond-Times Dispatch.”

Patel noted he was satisfied with the expo and looks forward to next year’s event. “Today’s market is very difficult for the individual,” he said. “You cannot fight it by yourself.”



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