LAS VEGAS — Whether it’s a focus on décor, food or community, the convenience-store retailers showcased in this year’s Ideas 2 Go at the 2015 NACS Show in Las Vegas prove they are also innovators.
The presentation highlighted nine retailers with “big ideas that push our industry ahead and simple ideas that you can take home and immediately apply in your stores,” said 2014-15 NACS Chairman Steve Loehr, vice president of operations support at La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip Inc.
Flory’s Convenience & Deli
With neon lights, fountains and a New York City theme, the décor at Flory’s Convenience & Deli in Fishkill, N.Y., leaves a lasting impression, but it’s the morning gas program that keeps customers coming back. Flory’s offers 10 cents off a gallon during the morning, and it’s driving customers inside to purchase breakfast, snacks and drinks. Flory’s also touts an upscale foodservice program, catering and unisex bathrooms for extra convenience.
Latitudes (BF Holdings LLC)
Latitudes (BF Holdings LLC) in Rio Rancho, N.M., also takes pride in being a destination. Its unique, two-story space features grocery, fueling, convenience retailing and a large community room and lounge area for study groups and community groups. The store also found a way to reduce credit card fees by offering a fuel discount to customers who use their debit cards.
Pride Stores Inc.
At Pride Stores Inc., it’s all about the food. The company takes … ahem … pride in its foodservice concept, Urban Counter, which features local food and local providers. Urban Counter is connected to the convenience store by a door, allowing customers to flow from one space to the next, but has a completely different design. To attract female customers, Hinsdale, Ill.-based Pride also added frozen kefir (good-for-you frozen yogurt) to its stores and an expanded wine category.
Encore (6040 LLC)
Meanwhile, Encore (6040 LLC), Hoover, Ala., has expanded its foodservice program, which features Hispanic-themed menu items (tamales and tacos) for early morning customers picking up both breakfast and lunch. Perhaps most unique is the store’s history selling electronics, having offered large-screen TVs, smart watches and tablets.
The Sheetz store at West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va., also has a heavy food focus since this store is the company’s first without gasoline or parking. Instead, the nearly 15,000-square-foot location touts a full-service kitchen, grocery, fresh produce and frozen foods. Self-checkouts also bring that grocery feel while allowing customers to skip the line.
Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
And if there’s a line at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que in Kansas City, Kansas, it’s not for the gas pumps. Some call Joe’s the best barbecue in the country, and reportedly President Barack Obama ordered food out of this gas station when he delivered a speech at the University of Kansas. Joe’s is also known for its signature sandwich, the Z-Man, which features smoked brisket, smoked provolone cheese, onion rings and barbecue sauce, all on top of a Kaiser roll.
VERC Enterprises Inc.
At Duxbury, Mass.-based VERC Enterprises Inc., however, it’s all about the people. About 20 years ago, VERC began a program providing employment opportunities to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, which boosted employee engagement and company culture. VERC also has a program that hires people who have previously been incarcerated.
People, specifically its customers, is also the focus at The Cube in Norman, Okla. The cube is a drive-thru convenience store with fresh food and online ordering that fits on less than a quarter of an acre. But it makes the most of its small footprint with three windows and a walkup window, allowing The Cube to serve more customers with ease.
And for OnCue Express in Oklahoma City, it’s all about fulfilling their customer’s gasoline needs. OnCue offers E10, E85, 100% gas, diesel fuel and compressed natural gas (CNG). For added convenience, the store also features a drive-thru and a large canopy to keep customers comfortable year-round.