Raising the Bar on Neighborhood Stores

After an extensive remodel and the introduction of Tedeschi Fresh Foods, Elizabeth Constantine’s franchise unit has seen its sales soar.

By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor.

As a long-time franchisee of Tedeschi Food Shops, Convenience Store Decisions’ 2012 Convenience Store Chain of the Year, Elizabeth Constantine has been impressed with how well Tedeschi looks after its franchise partners.

Two years ago, Tedeschi gave her North Easton, Mass. franchise store an extensive facelift that included the introduction of the Tedeschi Fresh Foods concept. The makeover gave the unit a bump in traffic and sales, that continues today. Most importantly, even as the Tedeschi chain grows and earns national accolades, it stays true to its family-run roots, a quality that resonates in a big way with its franchisees.

Constantine’s 2,500-square-foot store fills a need for local residents, which helps drive a steady flow of new and repeat business. She began operating the franchise seven years ago. The freestanding store doesn’t offer fuel, but does provide a large grocery section that neighborhood residents rely on for fill-in shopping.
Constantine was introduced to Tedeschi more than a decade ago. Her ex-husband owns two Tedeschi franchises and Constantine originally learned the c-store business working alongside him.

“When I heard through the grapevine that this store in North Easton was going to become available, I called Tedeschi and spoke with their management, hoping to get a store of my own,” she said. “I was interviewed and accepted. Then I just had to apply for a beer and wine license and everything just went smoothly from there.”

The store offers an extensive beer and wine selection with microbrews and all the regular domestic beer brands, as well as medium to high-priced wines.

Tucked away in the neighborhood, near a wooded area and away from major intersections, the store draws a steady stream of neighborhood customers, seeing 500-600 shoppers daily. Constantine grew up in the town and knows neighbors have long been accustomed to visiting the location for their shopping needs. For 40-50 years various neighborhood stores have inhabited the building that now houses her Tedeschi store.
To stay in tune with the needs of local customers, the unit caters to a large demographic of students, as there are a number of schools within walking distance of the store, including a high school, middle school and three elementary schools.

At 2:30 p.m. each day, when school lets out, the store is bustling with students looking for afternoon snacks. Constantine estimates she sees 100 students daily.

Becoming a Franchisee
When Constantine knew it was time to start her own c-store franchise, there was no question that Tedeschi was the chain she wanted to partner with. “I’ve always felt the Tedeschi franchise program was fairly run.

They give you a huge amount of support, which is really nice,” she said. “They get great pricing when it comes to negotiating with vendors due to the volume of stores in the chain, and they keep an eye out for you. So even though you are just one store, you really do feel like you are a part of the family business. They know you by name and they are very helpful if you have a problem. We get great service and maintenance.”
Tedeschi’s, as part of the franchise agreement, handles all advertising and signage for the store, which runs regular monthly promotions. “They have a great new signage program that’s really eye catching and modern. Plus, they run Facebook promotions and do a lot of radio advertising so they do a lot to bring customers into the stores here,” Constantine said.

Profiting From Renovations
Tedeschi can also be relied on to keep stores in top shape. The company gave Constantine’s store a complete facelift in the summer of 2010, updating it to a more modern look and carving out space for a Tedeschi Fresh Foods case, so Constantine could introduce the Tedeschi Fresh Foods line.

“Tedeschi’s, which owns the real estate, came in and decided the store really needed a remodel. During the remodel, the store was pretty much gutted, but I was able to remain open the whole time. The store went from 1975 to 2010 in just six weeks,” Constantine said.

The foodservice program includes a vast line of pre-made sandwiches and wraps, yogurt cups, fruits, desserts, and even a selection of Indian food and sushi. Because Tedeschi owns its own fresh commissary, the store has access to deliveries three times a week.

“They have a great selection and they’re always bringing in new items, so it’s not always the same 25 SKUs,” Constantine said.

As part of the remodel, the store got a beautiful coffee bar that helped boost coffee sales, “and the fresh case that was introduced is just so appealing and eye catching. It’s located right when you walk in the door and is an open case, so people can reach right in and select what they want. It amazes me how many fresh sandwiches we sell,” Constantine said.  

The remodel also included all new coolers, upgraded lighting, new floors and even a facelift for the bathrooms. “It made such a difference. I saw 3-4% growth from it, and it drew more women into the store because it was well lit and modern looking,” Constantine said. “The facelift has expanded my customer base a bit. People who didn’t bother to stop before came to check out the new store. We had a nice big grand reopening, and it was pretty impressive to see the transformation.”

School-time Rush
With such a large student base, Constantine offers a broad selection of candy and on-the-go snacks, which includes Tedeschi’s extensive line of proprietary products. Breakfast sandwiches are also a big hit with students, as well as with the teachers, who are often looking for an on-the-go breakfast option.
“A lot of times the kids are rushing to school and they just want a beverage or sandwich in the morning,” Constantine said. After school, packages of Andy Capp’s Hot Fries that retail for 99 cents a bag and Arizona iced teas are some of the most popular products with students.

Proud Franchisee
Constantine said she feels Tedeschi’s deserves CSD’s Chain of the Year Award because of the strong interest the executive management shows in its franchisees and their ability to compete effectively.

“The last 2-3 years they’ve been going in and remodeling stores and building a few stores from the ground up. They look out for the franchisees. It’s family run, where you know the president of the company and he knows your name,” she said. “I truly feel they deserve such a prestigious honor because of how hard they’ve been working to get everyone on the same page by cleaning up and dressing up the stores to make them more appealing and modern. That is pretty impressive.”


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