To Boost Sales: Add Helium

Somewhere around elevation 16,000 feet, Kent Couch might have been wondering if he’d bump into the tip of the bar graph charting the rise in credit card interchange fees.   Or maybe he was just too busy enjoying the view. “It’s just a beautiful way to see Oregon,” said Couch, 48, a two-time cluster-balloon flyer

Fertile Ground

WILSON FARMS TIMELINE * 1960: Tops Markets is co-founded by Savino Nanula and Armand Castellani. 1969: Tops Markets opens the first Wilson Farms Neighborhood Food store in Tonawanda, N.Y., naming the store after a company-owned farm in Wilson, N.Y. 1978: Wilson Farms expands in N.Y. to Rochester and later to Syracuse. 1980s: Tops Markets is

Condiments: The New Category

Rick Pajak breathed new life into Wilson Farms’ hot and cold dispensed category by treating condiments less as an afterthought and more as a category of its own. “We look at the condiment section as one of the longest stops in the store,” he said. “Why not give them the right space and right opportunity

Green and Envied

Scott Zaremba grew up in the fuel business. As president and CEO of Zarco 66, the petroleum company his father founded in 1968, Zaremba is battle-tested in the trenches and has the scars to prove it. But what motivates this savvy industry veteran every day is the opportunity to push the boundaries of creativity and

Profit$ You Can Bank On

Here in the 21st century, providing c-store customers with financial products and services like money orders, check cashing, ATM access, electronic bill payment and payday loans can be as easy, and as necessary, as selling soda, candy and beer. But it requires a bit more thinking. Convenience store operators are increasingly partnering with providers like

Get Them Where They Shop

Your store is a great place to advertise. The customer is already there and receptive to making a purchase. You have the ability to control the environment and the number and types of messages you communicate. And today you can choose from more media formats than ever before—everything from simple signage to video and digital

Analyzing Scan Data

Market basket analysis and its offshoot, affinity marketing, continue to follow the usual c-store industry adoption pattern: cautious expansion, mostly among the bigger chains. But the potential payoffs could be enormous. That said, like most new technologies market basket requires commitment at the top, beginning with more expensive software matched with an appropriate point-of-sale (POS)

Creating Loyalty Among Thrifty Customers

Retailers throughout the country are aware that with the current economic downturn, customers are often trying to find the most cost-effective deals. But industry leaders are relying on innovative solutions aimed at getting their customers decent deals while creating brand loyalty. Fuel retailer loyalty programs work similar to loyalty programs in other industries, according to

Get Ready for Gen Y

The international marketing firm Youngster recently reported that for the first time in history, the market group known as Generation Y, those ages 10 to 25, is evenly divided across each of its five age-based subgroups. A short 10 years ago when Generation Y first burst on to the scene, the vast majority of Gen

Shell Games

Maybe there’s still a bit of debate on the medical merits of catharsis, but Bobak Bakhtiari could be the man to put the issue to rest. "Does it further ignite aggression?" asked Bakhtiari, a former counselor at a California psychiatric facility who now runs Tanforan Shell, his family’s convenience store and carwash in San Bruno,

Shoppernomics 2.0: The Not-So-Perfect Storm

There’s a host of ingredients contaminating the retail environment these days, with shoppers dogged by rising costs in energy, food and basic necessities. As a result, shopping habits are being radically reshaped in this new and uncertain environment, said Thom Blischok, president of consulting and innovation at Information Resources Inc. (IRI). "We are living in

Alaskan Energy Crisis Solved

Faced with almost six weeks of daylight when the summer solstice hit their town on June 20, residents in Barrow, Alaska, were finally provided an answer to their age-old question: How do you make it through a 1,992-hour day? In honor of the summer solstice, the makers of Jolt Energy drink airlifted 370 cases of

Reshaping the Convenience Landscape

For some marketers and distributors, Exxon Mobil Corp.’s decision to get out of direct-store operations could present the chance of a lifetime; an opportunity to acquire the rights to stores for an entire market, maybe more. For others, the announcement caused immediate fear and panic concerning the long-term viability of their operations and, in some

Prepaid Reaping Financial Rewards

While gift card malls have been getting a lot of attention, prepaid debit, credit, gift and especially gas cards offered by Visa, MasterCard and American Express are quietly booming in popularity. Prepaid’s profit potential is fueled by shifts in the marketplace, wider social acceptance and the nation’s growing population of "unbanked" lower-income consumers. And while

Packaged Beverage Sales Heating Up

New products and flavors, including some with healthier ingredients, are helping soft drinks and teas experience a healthy resurgence in already jammed cold vaults nationwide, even as traditional carbonated soft drinks continue to decline. For operators, keeping tabs on trends and adjusting sets to match ever-changing dynamics remains a full-time job. According to the National

Consumers Rush for Energy

John Scully got started on Red Bull before Red Bull got started on him. Now 41 and working as a mortgage broker in Cleveland, Scully remembers that first sip, taken in a bar in Thailand where he’d backpacked when he was a 20-something college graduate long on adventure and short on money. "You sort of

The Lean Scene

Some are kind of freaked out, and some kind of like the idea. The hardscrabble soda-and-cigarettes crowd, they’re still on the lower hump of the learning curve. "They’re kind of like, ‘Hey dude, where’s my Doritos and cigarettes,’" said Alvaro Garza, co-owner of The Green Spot Market and Fuels on the outskirts of Dallas. But

DELI, BAKERY AND PREPARED FOODS: Fresh Remains Key For Customers

The tendency for Americans to want more fresh and fresh prepared food is clearly growing, which is why traditional U.S. convenience stores have been joined by overseas chains like Tesco and Famima. "I think the lifestyle is really changing here," said Hidenari Sato, executive vice president of Famima Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of Japan’s FamilyMart

Isotonics and Energy Drinks: Isotonics Maintain, Energy Drinks Soar

Isotonics and sports drinks maintain strong sales and will probably continue to do so, given consumers’ growing demands for healthful food and drink that meets the body’s needs following physical activity. Energy-drink purchases, on the other hand, are growing exponentially across the country—leading retailers to keep seeking the best strategies for leveraging the category’s popularity.

Technology Driving Safety and Cash Management

Safeguarding c-stores and the people and property in and around them is getting easier and more economical thanks largely to incremental advances in a variety of technologies. Among them: safes that do more, software systems that communicate better and electronic eyes that see more. Theft and mayhem of all types, from gas pump drive-offs and

Hot Dispensed Beverages: Consumers on the Prowl for Premium

The days of battery acid brewing in a pot on a hot plate are long over, and c-store coffee programs will be hard-pressed to win drinkers these days without recognizing that consumers are on the prowl for premium coffees at palatable prices. A shortage of minutes and money among consumers nationwide is driving demand for

Alternative Energy (Shots and bars): Buying Energy by the Shot

Make room for the new kid on the block: Energy shots, those concentrated versions of energy drinks that are beginning to mirror the high sales figures of their parent product. Granted, some customers buy energy shots to add to their energy drink in a kind of shot-and-chaser strategy. But for an increasing number of buyers,

Faith-Fueled and Furious

At a jail in Valparaiso, Ind., there’s a rebel musician who’s probably wishing he’d sung just a little bit louder. At a church in San Francisco, there’s a holy man wishing he and his flock had prayed just a little bit harder. And in a backwater town just outside Kansas City, Mo., there’s a new

Cold & Frozen dispensed beverages: Mixing it Up in Cold Dispensed

Average per-store sales of cold dispensed beverages experienced modest gains that shouldn’t give retailers pause when they manage this category, as leading c-store chains are showing that big profits can spurt from some tiny fountain heads. Ricker’s c-stores, for instance, a 30-store chain headquartered in Anderson, Ind., has shaped much of its identity on its

Carbonated Soft Drinks: Strong, But Losing Ground

Most carbonated soft drink companies found 2007 a good year, but not because of CSD sales in the U.S. Increases in carbonated beverage sales outside North America plus profits from their non-carbonated acquisitions are keeping Coke and Pepsi strong, despite the introduction of new products such as Coke Zero and Diet Pepsi Max, industry analysts

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