By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor /News & Online
Innovation is the corner stone of all successful retail offerings and Roadrunner Markets is fully committed to keeping its store programs fun and exciting.
Mountain Empire Oil’s Roadrunner Markets, with 92 convenience stores in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, is appealing to customers with a new growler craft beer program and is piloting a frozen yogurt concept.
Growing With Growlers
Roadrunner Markets debuted the growler program in June 2013 to bring a host of craft beers on draft to thirsty customers.
A growler is a glass or ceramic jug. C-stores running growler programs have draft beers on tap that they pour into the growler and sell to customers, who usually bring the growler back when they’re ready for a refill. The practice is slowly picking up steam across the country as the craft beer trend grows.
Roadrunner currently offers the growler program at two stores under the Chuggernaut banner, and plans to introduce a third growler program at its new Jonesboro, Tenn. location, which is under construction now.
The standard Roadrunner Chuggernaut station features 20 beers on tap. The kegs are kept out of sight in a back room directly behind the beer station. The full-service program has to be manned by a store employee who fills the growlers for customers. The beer is served in 64-ounce glass growlers that come with a screw top lid. Employees tape a label on the outside so customers buying more than one growler know what beer is inside, as well as information about that particular brew. Samples, unfortunately, aren’t allowed.
Typically, a refillable growler from Roadrunner costs $5, and the average retail to fill the growler is $8.99. To entice customers to try the program, the chain runs a promotion called “Growler Giveaway Tuesday,” where customers can get the growler itself free when they buy one beer fill-up from one of the 20 draft beers on tap.
When customers are ready for a refill they simply return to the store with their growler.
Ryan Broyles, president of Roadrunner Markets, said that while the growler program isn’t the right fit for every store, it made sense to try it in select locations because it adds value to a larger footprint convenience store.“Placing the growler option in the convenience store helped expose a wider audience to the system. When we put it in initially, people thought we invented it,” Broyles said.
Frozen Yogurt Foray
In December 2013, Roadrunner also introduced a Vincent Van Yo self-serve frozen yogurt concept to one of its Tennessee stores, and is also set to introduce it inside the Jonesboro store it is currently building.
“The one we have now is a kiosk-type, retrofit design. The one we’re building is more the type you’d find in a yogurt shop. It’s a similar situation with the yogurt as with growlers in that we can bring people who wouldn’t normally experience this type of offering a value-added experience right inside our stores,” Broyles said.
The yogurt program in the existing location offers three machines, nine flavors and numerous toppings from fruit to Oreos and from candy bar bites to syrups.
As for expanding the programs to more stores, Roadrunner plans to roll out the growler program—not to every store—but to additional locations in the future. “Vincent Van Yo is in its infancy, so we will make that decision down the road,” said Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Retail Operations John Kelly.
“It’s important to us that whatever programs we implement we can execute on a 24-hour basis, “ noted Broyles. “We’ve been deliberate about deciding what programs we get into and making sure that we can execute those consistently.”