Three-Mile Marketing

As John Matthews sees it, a store languishing in mediocrity is a store that has become wallpaper in the halls of retail.   “Generally, when starting a business, it’s easy to get people excited when its new and fresh,” said Matthews, founder of Chicago-based retail marketing firm Gray Cat Enterprises. “After a few years, though,

Preparing for Drastic Tobacco Regulations

Not surprisingly, convenience store industry operators identified the future of tobacco as one of their top five concerns heading into 2010. And with good reason. Operators have entered a period of unprecedented challenges when it comes to selling cigarettes, which means they must find new and innovative ways to market and merchandise this essential product

A Legend Among Us

Growing up during the Great Depression, Bob Seng learned to appreciate hard work, dedication and the value of an honest day’s work. It was those principles that guided him during his nearly 20-year career at Shell Oil, which began 60 years ago in 1949. For Seng, now a spry 85 years young, the experience at

Foodservice Versatility

Chicken continues to pace the hot prepared food category thanks to its ability to attract a diverse audience. Perhaps because it’s viewed as a healthy alternative to red meats, chicken—as flexible as it is flavorful—also remains a favorite choice for salads, sandwiches, soups and entrees, which is why more c-store operators are making it the

Store Brands Bring Big Bucks

Looking for ways to boost your grocery sales? Sales figures show that in today’s scary economy, shoppers are pinching pennies wherever they can—and one way that’s becoming increasingly popular is buying generic or so-called "house" brands. Gone are the days when generic brands looked, well, generic. Today’s generic brands are more attractively packaged, and the

The Industry’s Power 25

"AN OUTSTANDING LEADER," "INNOVATIVE," AND "A TRUE VISIONARY." Such high praise could only describe the outstanding leaders guiding the convenience store and petroleum industry during a period of economic turmoil. Convenience Store Decisions is proud to recognize these titans of industry in the second annual Power 25 issue. These influential business leaders were selected for

The Industry’s Power 25 (part 2)

Robert Myers President and CEOCasey’s General Stores Inc. About 40 years and 1,470 stores later, Casey’s General Stores still prefers those small Midwestern towns. If not for the small-town charm they offer, then at least for the collective $4.8 billion they generated this past year to make Casey’s a leader in the world of convenience.

The Industry’s Power 25 (part 3)

Donald ZietlowPresident and CEOKwik Trip Inc. Kwik Trip CEO Donald Zietlow and his team at the La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip Inc. have built a well-oiled network of facilities and operations that support more than 380 Kwik Trip and Kwik Star stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. The Kwik Trip brand started in a small

The Industry’s Power 25 (part 4)

J. Michael Walsh President and CEO Core-Mark Holding Co. Inc. It would be tough to overstate how important the company J. Michael Walsh leads is to the c-store industry. As one of the largest broad-line, full-service distributors of packaged consumer products to the convenience retail industry in North America, Core-Mark provides distribution and logistics services

The Industry’s Power 25 (part 5)

Tom LongPresident and Chief Commercial OfficerMillerCoors Since becoming president and chief commercial officer of Miller Brewing Co. in 2006, Tom Long has guided his company through several successful changes, including the joint venture agreement that created MillerCoors last July. Long also made the crucial decision to locate the newly merged company in downtown Chicago instead

Three-Mile Marketing

As John Matthews sees it, a store languishing in mediocrity is a store that has become wallpaper in the halls of retail.   "Generally, when starting a business, it’s easy to get people excited when its new and fresh," said Matthews, founder of Chicago-based retail marketing firm Gray Cat Enterprises. "After a few years, though,

Grocery Aisles Growing Sales

According to Nielsen’s Gas Monitor Report, when gas prices rose, consumers reacted by limiting the amount of fuel they bought during each visit to the pump. But this trend encouraged more trips to the fuel island. Additionally, higher fuel prices encouraged consumers to shop more at c-stores rather than travel to additional destinations. The economy

Chevron Honored as 2008 Chain of the Year

It’s been a challenging year for convenience store operators, marked by wild fuel price fluctuations and exorbitant credit card fees. Despite the adversity, Chevron stood apart as one of the premier industry leaders. By advancing its Image Refresh program, growing the Texaco brand and introducing a no-fee credit card for its branded marketers, it was

Ruler Cooler

Sarah Jackson and David Oberman may not realize it, but as a pair they embody a curious trend in the c-store industry’s packaged beverage category these days. “I used to drink energy drinks every day,” said Oberman, 20, standing outside a TravelCenters of America on Interstate 90 at the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. “I was an energy

Drinking For Thinking

Whether they’re touting benefits such as arthritis relief, tanning power or sedation, functional beverages have long surpassed the passé point of added nutrition.  You can divvy up the functional beverage category any way you want: Brain-power libation like Brainiac, by Function Drinks; arthritis-battling brew like Joint Juice, by Joint Juice Inc.; or the sun-tanning stew,

Unleashing the Profit Potential of Meat Snacks

C-store operators need to transcend mere impulse merchandising and gain a real understanding of shifting consumer demographics in order to make the most of the meat snack category. Long considered a convenience store staple, meat snacks—primarily dried snacks and pork rinds—are enjoying a renaissance with the addition of many new flavors, new packaging and better

Getting (and Keeping) Customers Inside

Looking for ways to keep your customers coming into your store? You’re not alone. Consumers may understand that convenience retailers need to raise prices, but that doesn’t stop them from buying elsewhere, especially when it comes to buying prepared food. “Food is certainly a good draw, but it’s one of several important factors,” said Sandy

Progress in Processing

Convenience store operators’ turbulent relationship with the credit card industry is set to enter a new phase in 2009 as a pair of legislative initiatives—one for consumers, the other a point of serious contention for retailers—come front and center. From both angles, facing off with credit card companies over the huge profits they’ve been reaping

Small Booths, Big Ideas

Sure, there were mammoth setups at the NACS show at McCormick Place in Chicago last month.  Some, like the energy drink makers whose legions of gorgeous gals were sporting free samples, boasted booths worthy of their own postal code. Likewise with the Dresser Wayne and Gilbarco Veeder-Root displays, whose setups offered a cornucopia of innovative

Hide ‘em or Flaunt ‘em?

Wisconsin architectural historian Jim Draeger figures two schools of thought exist in American towns where gas stations or c-stores are introduced. He calls these schools the “hide ‘em or flaunt ‘em approaches.” In the “hide ‘em” school, town planners want gas stations or c-stores to adopt architectural flavors that reflect the community’s subjective tastes. Colors,

Ready to Go

Shame it isn’t as simple as signing on the dotted line. "You’d think," said Lynn Mitchell, one of six owners at the new RediGo Food Mart chain in Lake County, Ohio, "that we could sit down, have a few beers and come up with a name." But then you’d be thinking like someone who never

Alon Emerges

Alon USA At a Glance: Alon USA is a Dallas-based independent refiner and marketer majority owned by Alon Israel Oil Co. Ltd. It was formed in 2000 when Alon Israel purchased the downstream operations of Atofina Petrochemical. Today, Alon owns and operates the Fina fuel brand and Southwest Convenience Stores LLC (SCS), the largest 7-Eleven

Food Sales: Keeping Current and Competitive

Too many consumers still think Famima is a Japanese specialty foods marketer, admitted Hidenari Sato, executive vice president of the Los Angeles-based convenience store chain. However, while Famima stores are attracting more and more new customers every day to correct this misperception, the fact that Famima has a notoriously great sushi program is a tremendous

Driving Traffic with New Products

Increased channel blurring is making it tougher for convenience stores to retain existing customers—and harder yet to develop loyalty in new ones. With drug stores like Walgreens and Rite Aid now selling beer and wine, Dunkin’ Donuts offering a wide array of drinks, and fast feeders continuing to gobble up market share by offering consumers

Prototypes with Plasticity

The successful development of a convenience store prototype is a bit like an exercise in finding one’s soul.  Half the soul-searching is done through scrupulous examination of all the internal components, while the rest is done by accounting for all the external forces that perpetually shape the inside. Sound spiritual and cryptic? Maybe just a

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