Stop’n Go Celebrates 50 Years

Best-50th-allAs part of the year-round festivities, stores will hold community events to celebrate their individual anniversaries.

By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor.

Stop’nGo of Medina Inc. is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year with store celebrations, promotions and customer sweepstakes, among a slew of other exciting commemorative events.

Family-owned Stop’nGo operates 10 locations throughout Medina and Wayne counties in Ohio. The chain also offers two car washes and two Subway restaurants. Five of its stores also include its Marketplace proprietary foodservice program, which carries an array of pizzas, sandwiches and breakfast sandwiches, along with coffee and fountain programs. The other five locations currently offer a made-to-order deli selection.

To kick off the 50th Anniversary festivities, the chain held an Employee Celebration Banquet at Weymouth Country Club in February. Frito Lay’s brand mascot Chester Cheetah greeted guests, which included the town mayor, key suppliers, as well as past and present employees. Guests were treated to a keynote address by internationally acclaimed motivational speaker Ed Foreman, which was intended to signify Stop’nGo’s commitment to invest in employee motivation and training in the coming year.

In January, employees received new uniforms and managers received black sweaters, both featuring a new anniversary logo. The anniversary logo is the focus of the chain’s marketing in the first quarter of the year.  “We put up 50th anniversary logos all over our stores, which will remain up all year, and we put up posters and signs that say ‘Thank you from the Shotwell family to our community,’” said company President Becky Shotwell, who is also a member of the National Advisory Group (NAG).

Giving Back
As part of the celebration, Stop’nGo is also investing in the community by donating an overlook deck and a variety of trees to the Medina County Park, which will be dedicated later this summer. During the chain’s 25th anniversary, it donated 25 oak trees to help improve the park, which is located near the Stop’nGo headquarters.

“We wanted to do something special for the community to commemorate the 50th as well,” Shotwell said. “The overlook deck will be built this spring and it will allow people to observe the wildlife and the wetlands at the park. We’re also donating some bench seats to be placed on the deck, and the area will feature a boulder with a plaque commemorating our anniversary and our founder Carl Abell.”

In addition, the chain has planned a tree planting volunteer day at the park in April for employees and their families. Volunteers will help plant some 100 trees and bushes that Stop’nGo is donating to the park to further anchor the area.

Store Celebrations
But Stop’nGo isn’t only celebrating at the corporate level. Each of the 10 stores will also have its own individual two-week birthday celebration, during which time stores will run numerous promotions, giveaways and celebrate with its individual communities.

“Around each of those weeks that correspond with the store’s birthday, we’ll run local ads to get the word out to the community,” Shotwell said. “We’ve given the stores cake allowance money so they can pick a day to have a special cake with the community and bring in special guests to entertain customers. Chester Cheetah will also be on hand to make scheduled appearances at the stores on that day.  We’ve worked with many of our core vendors to offer an array of promotions for guests.”

Stores get a lot of leeway in choosing the type of festivities that will best resonate with their customer demographic. One of the stores that celebrated its birthday in March decided to welcome the community to participate in some charity and volunteer activities during its two-week celebration.

50 Years and Beyond
Stop’n Go is beginning its 50th anniversary with updated stores, following a comprehensive remodeling process that has been going on for two years.

“We completed a significant overhaul of our older locations to give them a new look with new outside graphics, new paint, and updated logos and canopies. We gave all the stores fresh looks inside, including new cabinetry and graphics, as well as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements,” Shotwell said.
To improve upon their human resources practices, Stop’nGo partnered with PeopleMatter last year.

“Adding PeopleMatter was a systems improvement for us in HR, and we have a lot more of those types of improvements scheduled for 2013,” Shotwell said. “We’re working on some strategic objectives, especially in the area of the training and development of our people. We understand that we can build the most beautiful stores, but what our customers will remember is how they were treated in those stores, so customer service, and our HR initiative are going to be very significant strategically for us in 2013.”

Additionally for the balance of 2013 and into 2014, Stop’nGo plans to open at least one new-to-industry location and work toward improving its proprietary foodservice by investing in additional personnel to help meet the demands of hungry customers.

Changing with the Times
In the 50 years Stop’nGo has been in business, the c-store industry has seen major changes.

“There’s so much more to think about today in running a business,” said Shotwell, citing changing technology, the growing use of social media, and the greater expense of today’s bigger stores. “C-stores are really so much more complicated today. There are so many different ways to focus on customers today, from stepping up service and measuring things differently and adding the social media piece. You can’t become complacent, and there are always new regulations and requirements we have to stay on top of—changes we didn’t have to consider 25 years ago.”

What hasn’t changed in the last 50 years is that customer satisfaction is still the focal point for Stop’nGo and the c-store industry as a whole. “You have to take care of the customers and that isn’t going to change. They should leave feeling great about having visited your business,” Shotwell said. “We know we have to keep at it, but we have a great attitude and a great group of people.”

At a Glance: Stop’n Go
Stop’n Go got its start back in 1934 when Henry Abell founded Elm Farm Dairy. His son Carl Abell—father of current company President Becky Shotwell—operated the dairy business. But in the late 1950s home milk delivery service diminished and supermarkets expanded their presence. Those changes prompted Carl Abell and 17 other dairymen to form Stop-N-Go Foods as an outlet for distributing their milk and dairy products in 1962.

In 1963, Carl Abell and wife Ruth opened the first Stop’nGo convenience store in Medina, Ohio. Additional stores plus gasoline were added over the years. In 1987, Becky Shotwell and her husband Frank became the third generation involved in the family business.

Executive Team:  Becky Shotwell, President and Owner; Frank Shotwell, Vice President, Gasoline and Car Wash;  Cindy Fitzgibbons, General Manager and Chief
Operating Officer; and Rich Frank, Director, Sales and Marketing.

Stores: 10 in Medina and Wayne counties in Ohio.
Foodservice: Two Subways, five delis and five proprietary Marketplace foodservice programs.

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