convenience gets no love still

Despite record sales and a growing number of stores that serve as destinations for millions and millions of American consumers everyday, other retail segments continue to take cheap shots at convenience store owners and operators.

Need proof? Did you happen to catch the NapaAuto Parts commercial during the Major LeagueBaseball playoffs? “Experience,” the announcer says,“that’s the difference between working with professionalsand running a convenience store.”

What gall. Not only did the company decline todisguise its offensive, unfair and, might I add, completelyinaccurate comments, it failed to deliver itsmessage. Instead, it took a cheap shot and that’s justunprofessional.

I was personally offended by this statement andcalled Genuine Parts Co., the largest member andmajority owner of the National Automotive PartsAssociation (NAPA), to ask them to clarify their statement.They declined. Numerous calls to Gaylord Spencer,Genuine Parts’ vice president of marketing, went unreturned.I guess experience has also taught the autoparts retailer how to duck and hide rather than takeresponsibility for its inappropriate comments that disrespectedthe thousands of highly educated, honest,hard-working convenience retailers.

Retailers Rising
On a more uplifting note, we have another solid issuelined up for you, beginning with this month’s cover storyon Jacksons Food Stores.

What is impressive about Jacksons is its steadygrowth and ability to fly under the radar. There are notmany family-owned and operated companies left inthe industry, yet Jacksons has the leadership and financialresources to continue pushing forward. Last year, theMeridian, Idaho-based chain acquired the distributionrights to the 100-store network operated by CummingsOil in an effort to serve a broader western communityand it continues to explore new opportunities.

“We have not considered selling the business.Jacksons Foods Stores is a family operation and onethat we expect to grow and flourish for years to come,”company President Andrea Jackson told CSD PublisherShahla Hebets. “My brother, John, is our CEO and he isstill relatively young. His children recently got involvedin the business as well. It’s great to now have the nextgeneration of Jacksons working in the business, especiallygiven that many companies don’t make it past ageneration or two. This means that we’re doing somethingright.”

Andrea Jackson has been a big part of the company’ssuccess. Jacksons now operates more than 100stores and supplies an additional 260 Shell, Texaco andChevron dealers in eight western states, not bad for familybusiness that started with a handful of stores and nowholesale distribution business.

“The key learning we realized was the knowledge thatyou can make drastic changes to your organizationand prevail,” Jackson said. “We were always the ‘little guy’and then suddenly we were the No. 1 retailer in the Stateof Idaho. This experience made future smaller acquisitionslook like a piece of cake, and we continue to viewacquisitions in this light today. We’re not done yet.”

Read the Jacksons Food Stores cover story.

Another company looking to grow operations isCenex, which last month announced a massive multimillion-dollar reimaging campaign. What makes thisstrategic decision so interesting is that competition forfuel dollars is fierce in Cenex Midwest markets and marginsare depressed, but demand throughout is soaring.Cenex has the infrastructure and marketing reach tobuild an even more loyal customer base.

The brand operates refineries in McPherson, Kan.and Laurel, Mont. that produce 5.5 million gallons of fueldaily and it continues to upgrade the refineries to meetchanging gasoline and diesel fuel emissions requirements.With a new look and strong supply reserves,should significantly strengthen the Cenex brand fromthe Great Lakes to Texas.

“Our objective is to create an appealing brand forour consumers and our independent brand marketersalike,” said Doug Dorfman, brand, product and marketingmanager, refined of fuels for the Inner Grove Heights,Minn.-based retail group. “Consumers need to feel goodabout shopping at Cenex, and marketers must feelproud to display the Cenex brand at their site.”

View the Cenex feature Cenex Gets In Style.

On a personal note, I hope each of you enjoy theNACS show. If you have a free moment on the tradeshow floor, please stop by booth 6176 to tell us what youthink.

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