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Cash Isn’t King at Cleveland Car Washes

American Pride has switched from cash-based operations to tokens, and customers are coming back stronger than ever. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Brian Costa operates five American Pride car washes in the Cleveland area. All told, there are 29 self-service bays and six touchless automatics. Until early 2000 each location was quarter-based. Then, when the

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Redrawing the Battle Lines

Separating nicotine from cigarettes and smoking could open new doors for tobacco. By Lou Maiellano. Imagine a natural ingredient so promising and intriguing that it is being clinically evaluated to address a variety of illnesses and conditions, including depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, Tourette syndrome, ADHD, anger management and anxiety. Think about it, an ingredient that would

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Strengthening the Leadership Chain

When it comes to attracting and maintaining repeat customers, a convenience store is only as strong as its weakest link. By Jim Callahan. In Thomas Reid’s Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man he wrote that, “in every chain of reasoning, the evidence of the last conclusion can be no greater than that of the

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Lawmakers Targeting Electronic Cigarettes

As their popularity soars in convenience stores, e-cigs are becoming the target of new smoking bans and tax regulations. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Once speculated to be a passing fad, e-cigarettes are increasing in sales and popularity and pushing their way toward becoming a mainstream product. Celebrities from Leonardo DiCaprio to Britney Spears have

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Managing Today’s Retail Workforce

As major shifts in the economy have created unparalleled effects on the labor market, CSD has partnered with Humetrics to help c-store operators benchmark their hiring practices and employee costs. By Mel Kleiman, Contributing Editor. In an ongoing effort to support the convenience store and petroleum industry’s forecasting and planning responsibilities, Convenience Store Decisions and

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Co-Branding Positives and Pitfalls

As rising gas prices continue to shrink profits at the pumps, having a strong foodservice offering can drive customers into convenience stores. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor. A growing number of retailers are choosing to go the brand name route, partnering with high profile quick-service chains or turnkey commissary-style suppliers. Convenience Store Decisions asked some

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Finding the Right Foodservice Equipment

To be a winner in the foodservice arena, break out of the convenience store box and take some equipment cues from quick-service, fast casual and white tablecloth restaurants. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor. No one understands the pain of working in a cramped space better than a food truck operator, said Larry Miller, president of

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Dispensing Variety and Value

When it comes to dispensed beverages, customers are still looking for new and unique products that provide them with instant gratification. By John Lofstock, Editor. Dispensed cold and frozen beverages are proving to be not just popular year-round products—sales are strong and getting stronger as summer approaches—but excellent tools for driving traffic through promotions and

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Capturing Lunch and Dinner Customers

When it comes to foodservice, convenience store operators must develop the expertise to make smart choices and deliver winning mealtime solutions. By John Lofstock, Editor People need food, and convenience stores need people to like their food, which is why keeping lunch and dinner menus fresh, new and exciting is so important. The food itself

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Meeting the Needs of Today’s C-Store Customers

CSD‘s 2012 Category Management Outlook offers trends and analysis from more than 25 key in-store categories. By John Lofstock and Erin Rigik. Tough economic times and stiff competition across the supply chain are making it critical for convenience store operators to have a solid understanding of their customers, particularly their high-frequency, high-value shoppers. Armed with

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E-Cigarettes Are Here to Stay

Until recently, e-cigs have been sold through traditional tobacco stores that normally expect a keystone or 100% markup on items other than cigarettes. Though it is hard to determine the number of e-cig users in the U.S., the National Vapers Club estimated that about a million people used e-cigs last year, so it certainly is

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Ethnic, Local Themes Among Emerging Deli Trends

International fare and regionally produced ingredients are the hottest trends in deli department foods, according to “What’s in Store 2012,” the recently released annual trends publication of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA). Eighty-two percent of consumers enjoy visiting supermarket delis that feature newer and trendier items, regardless of whether they regularly purchase these items. Delis

Lessons in Retail Leadership

Despite fast-changing customer expectations, shortened product and retail life cycles and rapid technological advancements, many retailers have not taken advantage of opportunities to innovate. By applying new perspectives to established ways of doing business, convenience store retailers can strengthen their competitive and financial positions, improve the customer experience and create a new life cycle of

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Munchy Mart Meeting Student Demands

The University of Northern Colorado has rolled out a new convenience store brand to satisfy student cravings with products they need at prices they can afford. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. When students rolled into the University of Northern Colorado’s (UNC) University Center this fall, Munchy Mart was waiting. The brand new 1,250-square-foot convenience store,

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Understanding What Your Customers are Buying

MSA and Paradigm Sample, in partnership with Convenience Store Decisions, examine the market basket of 18-34-year-old convenience store shoppers. By Trish Temmerman, Contributing Editor. Numerous reports are being written about connecting to and interacting with the Millennial (18-34 year-old) generation. These Millennials, numbering 71 million-plus according to the 2010 U.S. Census, are a key shopper

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Coffee Consumption Surging

One in four coffee drinkers are now choosing gourmet products daily as younger consumers embrace upscale brews. By John Lofstock, Editor.  Coffee consumption tracks strong and steady, according to the National Coffee Association’s (NCA) National Coffee Drinking Trends, with sales data suggesting a solid footing for future growth. Rebounding youth consumption, strong gourmet allegiance and

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The 2012 Convenience Store Foodservice Report

Top-quartile chains continue to post strong sales across all food segments, while retailers express confidence for healthy category growth throughout 2012. By David Bishop, Contributing Editor. We all know times are tough. The consumer is looking for greater value at a time when retailers are focusing on being competitive without losing their shirts. Retailers recognize

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New Food Technology is Hot (and Cool)

Convenience stores are embracing the latest equipment as they look to keep up with QSRs and fast casual restaurants. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor. In the summer, customers line up from morning until evening at Maverik convenience stores to take the f’real machine for a spin. From the time the North Salt Lake City-based chain

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Building Bottled Water Sales

New products and core beverages will always drive cold vault sales. Retailers have to know how to market them effectively to maximize profitability. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Bottled water sales continue to rise steadily, which is good news for overall packaged beverage sales in convenience stores. NACS reported recently that in the wake of

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Chocolate Sales Boost Confections

Despite the weak economy, consumers continue to indulge in candy. By Joe Bush, Contributing Editor. The confectionery retail market has grown across all trade channels, but convenience stores have outpaced the overall retail market. Iconic brands (Hershey, Nestlé, Mars) prowl the chocolate landscape and provide consumers an affordable indulgence in a bitter economy. According to

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Designing a Winning OTP Strategy

Convenience stores have evolved from being a destination for cigarettes to a destination for tobacco products as a whole. By Joe Bush, Contributing Editor. It was inevitable that the conversation on convenience store cigar sales would shift eventually from rapid growth to supplier relations, category management and marketing. As cigarette regulations and prices and taxes

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Mean Healthy Business

While some c-store operators are gingerly testing the waters of healthy lunch and dinner solutions, others have plunged right in as the tide of consumer demand moves steadily toward fresher fare. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor. With the opening of its latest store in Marshfield, Mass., Tedeschi Food Shops launched a new initiative that puts

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Emphasizing a Strong Breakfast Business

Given that the morning daypart is such a high-growth segment, it should be no surprise that the industry’s leading retailers are focusing a lot of effort on solidifying their offerings. By John Lofstock, Editor. Americans are more amenable to buying meals at convenience stores, but won’t budge when it comes to quality, price or convenience

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Retailers Urged to Lighten Up

While LED lighting has helped many businesses reduce their carbon footprint, each retailer must decide if the endeavor is a worthy long-term investment. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor. During holiday season 2011, the 74-foot Norway spruce in New York City’s Rockefeller Center was covered in 30,000 multicolored light-emitting diodes (LED). Those glowing decorations were an

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Capturing Hispanic Customers

Offering quality customer service with bilingual employees and traditional foods can drive retail loyalty among the growing Hispanic population. By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Today, Hispanic food is mainstream and attractive to a wide array of demographics seeking spicier flavors, but the secret to keeping your Hispanic customers’ repeat business lies in more than just

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