Kyle’s Kwik Stop Corner Markets in east Texas is testing a new business model by emphasizing the local community.
By Megan Wilkinson, Assistant Editor.
On the outside, Kyle’s Kwik Stop’s latest store looks like a simple c-store. Yet, step inside the Longview, Texas unit and customers get a taste of the neighborhood from its breakfast tacos to fine local wines. The convenience store makes sure customers in the area feel at home.
“This is a new concept that really embraces the neighborhood, corner market environment,” said Kyle Adams, president and owner of the five-store Texas chain. Although all Kyle’s Kwik Stop stores have a quaint feel about them on the inside, Adams said his newest store offers the most innovations of all of them. The store aims to understand and match the needs of its surrounding demographics.
The store doesn’t just fuel its customers with Exxon-branded gasoline, fresh foods and an enticing cup of coffee. Instead, the chain’s newest c-store portrays a market-like ambiance, complete with a wine shop, bulk candy aisle, fresh produce and a sit-down restaurant. It’s pretty swanky for a convenience store.
“I’ve had people come in and tell me it’s the Taj Mahal of convenience stores,” said Danielle Clower, general manager of the wine and beer section at the new store. “Kyle did a wonderful job of designing the place. It’s higher class than anything in Longview.”
Adams launched his latest store in April and transformed the 8,000-square-foot location into an upscale convenience store. He said the store can be appealing to a wide range of demographics, specifically because its offerings match the needs of people across all ages groups.
One of Kyle’s Kwik Stop Corner Market’s biggest hits is its wine and beer section. Customers can easily get lost in the store’s large selection of about 460 kinds of wine, and close to 190 kinds of beer, including both local and national brand-name products.
“I can name pretty much every one I have in here,” said Clower, who can tell customers everything they want to know about a given wine or beer.
The store offers wines ranging from extremely dry to exceptionally sweet. Clower said she’s also aiming to expand her selection of local Texas wines, and she said the majority of those are sweeter. Currently, Kyle’s Kwik Stop Corner Markets features 37 Texas wines, all bought directly from vineyards.
“Local wines are really nice and people like to help the local economy,” Clower said. She takes requests and suggestions from customers, and tries to fill special orders for her loyal customers. “I’m proud of my customers because other people end up liking the wines they request, too.”
One thing that’s especially unique about Kyle’s Kwik Stop’s wine and beer section is the store’s bimonthly wine and beer tasting events. Every two weeks, Clower picks out a small variety of wines and beers for customers to taste on a Friday or a Saturday. After a quick wine tasting, customers are also free to consume alcoholic drinks on the store perimeters, so long as it’s within moderation.
“I’m not a huge wine guy by any means, but I like being able to present a product that people are comfortable with, such as local wines and beers,” Adams added. “The wine-shop environment is what I was going for.”
Dining In Style
Kyle’s Kwik Stop’s new store isn’t just for local wine and beer connoisseurs. The store’s large bulk candy aisle largely appeals to children, while the Nanny Goats Café located in the center store area gives the whole family a reason to make a trip to the c-store.
“(Kyle’s) is kind of a one stop place,” Clower said. “You can pick up lunch, wine for the evening and some candy for the kids. It’s a nice place where you can go to get things done, and also relax.”
Even when Adams launched his first store 14 years ago, he made sure it was something that would attract customers. “It’s not just a grab-n-go place,” he said in an interview with CSD. The company tries to focus on offering quick-service restaurants in all five stores to draw more traffic. The company has partnered with Whataburger, Sonic and now Nanny Goats Café at its newest location.
Adams co-branded with Nanny Goats in his new store after meeting with Nancy Dupre, Nanny Goats owner, on a visit to her single-store restaurant in Kilgore, Texas.
He ate there and said he wanted it for his store,” Dupre said. “We realized it would work out for business, and it’s been a huge success.”
Nanny Goats Café offers a breakfast and lunch selection for people looking for a quick bite to eat. Or, if a customer is in the mood, he or she can feel free to sit down and stay for a while.“It’s kind of a joke amongst Longview people,” Adams said. “Everybody’s meeting down at the Exxon station to eat dinner, is what they say, because Nanny Goats is in the convenience store.”
Nanny Goats Café serves items such as breakfast tacos, salads, soups, sandwiches, appetizers, casseroles and desserts.
Dupre said one of the benefits of partnering with Kyle’s Kwik Stop is that she gets customers she normally doesn’t get at her freestanding restaurant. Close to 200 customers who visit Kyle’s Kwik Stop pick up food at her restaurant each day because of the c-store and restaurant partnership.
“I felt it was a good combination,” Adams said. “We would work together to draw customers onto the lot.”
After lunch, Kyle’s Kwik Stop invites customers to check out the bulk candy section for a sweet treat, great for both kids and those who are young at heart. Adams said his new store’s bulk candy products have out-sold the normal packaged, brand-name candy it offers.
In addition to in-store advances, all five of Kyle’s Kwik Stop stores offer Exxon- or Valero-branded fuel to motorists. The newest c-store features Gilbarco pumps with TV monitors to entertain customers at the pump with news, sports and commercial broadcasts.
Kyle’s Kwik Stop has an eye for expansion and is in the process of planning for upcoming c-stores in the Texas market. Adams said he hopes to build more upscale c-stores like his latest c-store.
At A Glance: Kyle’s Kwik Stop
Kyle Adams launched his c-store chain in 1997 after he became interested in the convenience store business. After eight years of running a single c-store, he branched out to add more sites to the company portfolio. The chain currently employs close to 50 people at all of its five stores.
Locations: Kyle’s Kwik Stop operates five convenience stores in the Texas market.
Foodservice: Nanny Goats Café, Whataburger and Sonic.
Fuel Brands: Exxon and Valero
• Kyle Adams, CEO and Owner
• Monica Townsend, Store Supervisor
• Cody Milford, Chief Financial Officer