CSN - May 2018

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FROM A SPARK TO A BONFIRE How Maverik went from a solid grab-and-go concept to a best-in-class foodservice program.











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Final Thoughts From a Foodservice Innovator A parting tribute to retiring “pathfinder” Maurice Minno MAURICE MINNO, ONE OF THE “PATHFINDER INNOVATORS” of convenience foodservice,

is retiring after a 40-year career that spanned some of the most prestigious companies in retailing, consulting and hospitality. A longtime member of Convenience Store News’ How To Crew and Foodservice Advisory Council, as well as a frequent column contributor for the past 17 years, Maurice worked his magic at such companies as Marriott, Wawa, Circle K, Starbucks, BP/ampm, Accenture and Maverik (where he served on the board of directors for 16 years). I asked him to reflect on what lessons he would pass on to others who want to improve their foodservice business. “First, think, act and be a restaurant. Operate your business as a restaurant and not a c-store,” said Maurice, who also listed seven additional recommendations: • Make your bathrooms an amenity to your fresh foodservice business. They should always be sparkling clean and fresh appearing. Design them with attractive finishes, the right lighting and enough room. • Develop a cohesive portfolio of the brands of your fresh food and beverage business. Be fun, creative, but ensure you can also tell each brand’s story. Customers love to know the story behind great brands.

• Less is more in the c-store retail business. Over-messaging and unauthorized DSD product displays everywhere in the store become visual clutter. • Embrace technology that simplifies your foodservice business and enables you to become a smarter retailer, like food management systems and self-serve ordering kiosks for customers. • Adopt and follow the principle of customer-focused quality. Customer needs, expectations, wants and their feedback should be your compass. • Create, nurture and live your fresh foodservice culture and treat it as one of your most valuable corporate assets. Support it with compensation programs, recognition, and other appropriate awards and actions. • Limited-time offers (LTOs) drive sales, customer buzz and interest. For more from the three-part interview I did with Maurice, visit www.csnews.com and check out this issue’s cover story on Maverik (page 38) for more insights on how to supercharge your foodservice business. For comments, please contact Don Longo, Editorial Director, at (201) 855-7606 or dlongo@ensembleiq.com.


2016 American Society of Business Press Editors, National Azbee Awards Gold, Best How-To Article, March 2015 Bronze, Best Original Research, June 2015 2016 American Society of Business Press Editors, Midwest Regional Azbee Awards Gold, Best How-To Article, March 2015 Silver, Best Original Research, June 2015


2018 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Finalist, Best Editorial Use of Data, June 2017

2013 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Best Single Issue, October 2012

2013 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award

2013 American Society of Business Press Editors, Midwest Regional Azbee Awards Bronze, Best Editorial/Commentary, July 2012

2017 Eddie Awards, Folio: magazine Winner, Business to Business, Retail, Single/Series of Articles, May 2017 Honorable Mention, Business to Business, Retail, Single/Series of Articles, June 2016

2015 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Single Article, February 2014

4 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

Jon Bratta Core-Mark International Inc.

Danielle Mattiussi Maverik Inc.

Rick Crawford Green Valley Grocery Edward Davidson ER Davidson & Associates (7-Eleven Inc., retired)

2016 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2015 Business to Business, Retail, Single/Series of Articles, August 2015

2016 Trade Association Business Publications Intl. Tabbie Awards Silver, Front Cover Illustration, June 2015

Jack Lewis GPM Midwest

Finalist, Best Profile, August 2012

2015 American Society of Business Press Editors, National Azbee Awards Silver, Best Profile (long form), February 2014 2015 American Society of Business Press Editors, Midwest Regional Azbee Awards Gold, Best Special Supplement, November 2014 Silver, Best Profile (long form), February 2014

Brett Atherton Bolla Management

2014 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2013 Business to Business, Retail, Single Article, February 2013 2013 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2012

Jim Hachtel Eby-Brown Co. Ray Johnson Speedee Mart Kirk Leff McLane Co. Inc.

Kyle McKeen Alon Brands Inc. Richard Mione GPM Southeast Jonathan Polonsky Plaid Pantries Inc. Greg Scriver Kwik Trip Inc. Roy Strasburger Convenience Management Services Inc.


VO LU M E 54 N UMB ER 05






38 From a Spark to a BonFire How Maverik went from a solid grab-and-go concept to a best-in-class foodservice program.

4 Final Thoughts From a Foodservice Innovator A parting tribute to retiring “pathfinder� Maurice Minno.

46 Guiding the Next Generation Mentoring programs lead to better careers for employees and better results for companies.

12 CSNews Online

34 Leveraging Category Management to Provide Differentiation Develop a simple store strategy to create the foundation from which you make decisions.


24 The Full Spectrum of Foodservice New initiatives highlighted at Eby-Expo 2018 seek to fulfill the needs of retailers that want to launch a program or make theirs better. OUT & ABOUT

70 6 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

26 Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone The 2018 NACS State of the Industry Summit addresses the need for change. 30 New Products


70 Go Big & Go Home Spinx opens its largest convenience store to date in its home state of South Carolina. NEW HORIZONS

72 Male Mentors in a #MeToo World More than ever, men must step up to create gender-equal workplaces. GETTING TO THE CORE

86 Variety Is the Spice of... Beer? The majority of c-store shoppers enjoy trying different brews and want more options stocked.

* *



VO LU M E 54 N UMB ER 05 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 (773) 992-4450 Fax: (773) 992-4455 www.csnews.com Direct Mailing Address for Convenience Store News: 11-43 Raymond Plaza West, 16th floor, Newark, NJ 07102 BRAND MANAGEMENT Vice President/Group Brand Director Paula Lashinsky (917) 446-4117 plashinsky@ensembleiq.com EDITORIAL Editorial Director (201) 855-7606

Don Longo dlongo@ensembleiq.com

Editor-in-Chief (201) 855-7608

Linda Lisanti llisanti@ensembleiq.com

Senior News Editor (201) 855-7618

Melissa Kress mkress@ensembleiq.com

Associate Editor (201) 855-7619

Angela Hanson ahanson@ensembleiq.com

Associate Managing Editor (201) 855-7604

Danielle Romano dromano@ensembleiq.com

Assistant Editor (201) 855-7614



14 Sunoco Puts More Distance Between Itself & Retail 16 Hiring Is in the Spring Air 16 Fast Facts 18 Eye on Growth 18 Seen on Social Media 20 Retailer Tidbits 22 Supplier Tidbits


Chelsea Regan cregan@ensembleiq.com

Contributing Editor (303) 741-3377

Renée M. Covino reneek@aol.com

Contributing Editor (201) 280-2614

Tammy Mastroberte tmastroberte@gmail.com

ADVERTISING SALES & BUSINESS Associate Brand Director & Northeast Sales Manager (508) 385-2524

Rachel McGaffigan rmcgaffigan@ensembleiq.com

Associate Brand Director & Western Sales Manager (330) 840-9557

Ron Lowy rlowy@ensembleiq.com

Associate Publisher & Midwest Sales Manager Kelly Fischer (773) 992-4464 kfischer@ensembleiq.com

54 What’s Hot on C-store Menus? A cheesy mash-up, Casey’s Chicken Quesadilla Pizza scores with customers.

Account Executive, Southeast (803) 315-0694



56 The Elevated C-store Coffee Convenience stores are upgrading their java programs in both product and promotion.

Senior Vice President, Events & Conferences Maureen Macke (773) 992-4413 mmacke@ensembleiq.com


62 Mixed Messages in Vapor Vaporizers are soaring in the convenience channel, yet e-liquids have taken a hit. CANDY & SNACKS

66 Bite-Sized Opportunities C-store retailers and suppliers share best practices to increase basket size with candy and snacks.

Cindy DeBerry cdeberry@ensembleiq.com

Account Executive & Classified Advertising Terry Kanganis (201) 855-7615 tkanganis@ensembleiq.com Classified Production Manager Mary Beth Medley (856) 809-0050 marybeth@marybethmedley.com

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT Director of Audience Development Gail Reboletti (224) 632-8214 greboletti@ensembleiq.com List Rental (847) 492-1350 ext. 318

MeritDirect Elizabeth Jackson

Subscriber Services/Single-Copy Purchases (978) 671-0449 EnsembleIQ@e-circ.net PROJECT MANAGEMENT/PRODUCTION/ART Vice President, Production (973) 358-4875 Creative Director (973) 607-1320

Kathryn Homenick khomenick@ensembleiq.com Colette Magliaro cmagliaro@ensembleiq.com

Custom Project Manager (224) 632-8244

Kathy Colwell kcolwell@ensembleiq.com

Custom Project Manager (973) 607-1368

Judi Lam jlam@ensembleiq.com

Advertising/Production Manager (773) 992-4418 Art Director (224) 632-8245

Ed Ward eward@ensembleiq.com Michael Escobedo mescobedo@ensembleiq.com

CORPORATE OFFICERS Executive Chairman Chief Executive Officer Chief Financial Officer Chief Brand Officer President, Enterprise Solutions Chief Digital Officer Chief Human Resources Officer Senior Vice President, Innovation

Alan Glass David Shanker Rich Rivera Korry Stagnito Terese Herbig Joel Hughes Jennifer Turner Tanner Van Dusen


The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations.

Convenience Store News (ISSN 0194-8733; USPS 515-950) is published 12 times per year, monthly, by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Copyright © 2018 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved. Subscriptions: One year, $93; two years, $152. One year, Canada, $110; two years, Canada, $175. One year, foreign, $150. Payable in advance with a bank draft drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. funds. Single copies, $10, except foreign, where postage will be added. Printed in U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Convenience Store News, P.O. Box 1842, Lowell, MA 01853.

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Sheetz HR Leader Honored at Inaugural Leadership Awards Gala

Stephanie Doliveria, vice president of human resources, was honored at Great Place to Work’s inaugural “Great Place to Work For All Leadership Awards.” Honorees were chosen by senior leadership at their companies for being a leader who consistently plays a critical role in helping their organization deliver on strategic growth and business goals.


Couche-Tard Updates Status of Circle K Rebranding

In the United States, the rebranding effort is set to move west from former The Pantry Inc. locations in the Southeast now into the Midwest, Couche-Tard President and CEO Brian Hannasch said during the company’s third-quarter fiscal 2018 earnings call. In addition, rebranding efforts have begun in Russia; will move to Ireland this spring; and Couche-Tard has begun the transformation of Mac’s locations in Canada to the new global Circle K brand.


7-Eleven Testing New Lottery Instant Game Technology

The retailer has begun testing Scientific Games Corp.’s new SCiQ lottery instant game retail technology in select c-stores. The SCiQ dispensers are currently live in pilot tests at participating 7-Eleven stores in Arizona, Ohio, Maine, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. Additional pilot tests are scheduled for Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania.


7-Eleven Among Top Retailers in Customer Experience Ratings

7-Eleven achieved a rating of 73 percent in the 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings, an annual customer experience benchmark of companies based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers. To generate the ratings, consumers were asked to evaluate their recent experiences with a company across three dimensions: success, effort and emotion.


The Early Insights Coming Out of Amazon Go

Amazon Go, Amazon’s tech-forward convenience store concept, has been up and running in Seattle for only three months, but already executives are noticing some shopper trends. The most hyped aspect of the Amazon Go store has been its “Just Walk Out” technology, which enables customers to grab items off the shelves and head out the door without checking out with a cashier, or otherwise. As it turns out, people are wary of exiting a store without some sort of payment friction.

THE FOODSERVICE INNOVATION PODCAST Rutter’s Director of Foodservice Ryan Krebs chats with Convenience Store News Editorial Director Don Longo about Rutter’s ability to offer a high degree of customization to its customers, as well as big flavors and big-sized offerings. Other topics include retailers’ role in their communities; the latest food trends; and the impact of technology, like cashierless checkouts, on future customer expectations.

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An Inside Look at RaceTrac’s New Made-to-Order Food Program RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.’s new concept convenience stores feature a full made-to-order, fresh prepared food program that takes the Atlanta-based retailer’s foodservice to a higher level. The program features sandwiches, wraps, a specialty hot and cold beverage bar with barista-style smoothies and shakes, and all-day breakfast items. Guests customize and order their meals on a touchscreen kiosk, and then can watch the store staff prepare their food. The new deli-based food concept replaces RaceTrac’s previous venture into made-to-order foodservice with the Speedy Avocado Mexican Grill. For more exclusive stories, visit the Special Features section of www.csnews.com.


White Owl Spiked Lemonade Cigarillos Swedish Match’s White Owl brand is expanding its Limited Edition FoilFresh franchise to include White Owl Spiked Lemonade cigarillos. The newest variety has a refreshing taste with just a little bit extra, according to the company, which describes the tobacco product as “a little bit sweet, a little bit tart, and a whole lot of delicious.” White Owl Spiked Lemonade cigarillos began shipping last month and are available in “2 for 99 cents,” “2 for 1.49” and “Save on 2” formats. Swedish Match Richmond, Va. (804) 787-5100 www.swedishmatch.com

At Del Monte, we’ve kept the produce industry delicious for 125 years. How we do it is also why we do it. We’re fresh-fruit fanatics, which is why we’re also full-service fanatics. Cost-control fanatics. Portion-yield fanatics. Innovation fanatics. And supply-chain fanatics. So, when it comes to reliability, we’re, you guessed it, fanatical about that, too.







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Sunoco Puts More Distance Between Itself & Retail The company completes a commission agent deal for 207 locations with CAL’s Convenience


revealing that it was all but exiting the convenience retailing business, Dallas-based Sunoco LP completed the conversion of 207 locations in west Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico to a commission agent. CAL’s Convenience Inc. acquired the stores from Sunoco in a deal that closed in early April. The two sides originally reached an agreement in December. CAL’s Convenience is located in Frisco, part of the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. Its president and CEO, Jack Whitney, is familiar with the convenience store landscape in the region. He previously served as vice president of retail operations at Sunoco LP and Stripes LLC. Whitney was also previously vice president of store operations for CEFCO Convenience Stores from January 2013 to July 2015, and a regional vice president at

This move follows Sunoco’s sale of nearly all of its other convenience stores — roughly 1,000 — to Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc. for $3.3 billion.

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The Pantry Inc. — former parent company of Kangaroo Express — from March 1999 to December 2012. With the conversion completed, Sunoco has transitioned out of the majority of its c-store operations in the continental United States. The company still operates sites along toll roads in New Jersey and New York, and has its retail locations in Hawaii. Under the commission agent model, Sunoco owns, prices and sells fuel at the sites, paying the agent a fixed cents-per-gallon commission. In addition, Sunoco continues to own approximately two-thirds of this portfolio in fee and will receive rental income from the commission agent, who will conduct all operations related to the convenience store and any related restaurant locations. This move follows Sunoco’s sale of nearly all of its other convenience stores — roughly 1,000 — to Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc. for $3.3 billion. That deal marked the beginning of Sunoco’s shift away from company-operated stores to focus on its fuel supply business. The 200-plus stores in west Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico were not part of that transaction.





Of Gen Z consumers like trying new dishes and flavors at restaurants, while 91 percent like ordering their favorite foods or foods familiar to them. — Y-Pulse’s Understanding Tomorrow’s Tastemakers Today

Hiring Is in the Spring Air Sheetz, Thorntons and Wawa each launch initiatives to add to their team-member rosters ‘TIS THE SEASON for hiring in the convenience channel. Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz Inc. plans to add more than 2,500 employees across its 560plus convenience stores. Its hiring initiative aims to increase Sheetz’s total employee count and number of full-time positions by creating and filling jobs at stores across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina. Open interviews began April 11. “Our employees are so important to us,” said Stephanie Doliveira, vice president of human resources at Sheetz. “We are deeply committed to investing in our people, rewarding our employees and attracting the best talent for the job whether it’s in the distribution centers, food production facilities, corporate office or one of our store locations.” Wawa Inc. is also looking to bolster its associate ranks. The Wawa, Pa.-based convenience store operator has set a goal of hiring up to 5,000 new associates during the next three months, with all of Wawa’s 790 stores across its six-state footprint looking to add new talent. “At Wawa, part of our commitment to ful-

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filling lives means adding jobs for new associates, while also providing advancement opportunities for the more than 30,000 Wawa associates who are part of our team. That’s why we’re thrilled to kick off this year’s spring hiring campaign and add a number of new members to our growing Wawa family,” said Elizabeth Moore, manager of talent acquisition at Wawa. While every Wawa store has job opportunities available, hosted open houses called “Wawa Career Wednesdays” were held at select locations every Wednesday for four weeks, beginning March 28.

Digital ordering has helped drive a 20-percent increase in delivery sales and a 10-percent gain in delivery foodservice visits. — The NPD Group’s Future of Foodservice Snapshot: Restaurant Delivery

In a similar move, Louisville, Ky.-based Thorntons Inc. held “Thorntons Thursdays” weekly from March 29 through April 19 as the retailer looked to make 100 new hires. During Thorntons Thursdays, the convenience store retailer conducted on-the-spot interviews and made immediate offers to fill permanent full- and part-time positions, including guest service representatives, store managers and general managers in the Louisville/southern Indiana area. Thornton is also participating in Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s SummerWorks youth jobs program.

One in three Americans believes that products in convenience stores fail to deliver a good value for their money. — Nielsen’s Total Consumer Report

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Eye on Growth

U.K.-based EG Group completed its $2.15-billion acquisition of The Kroger Co.’s convenience store business unit. Included in the sale were 762 convenience stores, including 66 franchise operations, spread out across 18 states.

with CHS Inc. for 33 Cenex Zip Trip stores. The price tag was roughly $70 million, plus the value of inventory at closing.

Pilot Flying J is opening three new travel centers in west Texas this spring. The retail outlets in Orla, Kermit and Pecos will expand its network in the Permian Basin.

Speedway LLC picked up 78 New York convenience stores from Petr-All Petroleum Corp. These stores are primarily located in the Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo markets and operate under the Express Mart brand.

Getty Realty Corp. acquired the fee interest of 30 properties from E-Z Mart Stores Inc. for roughly $52 million. Upon closing the deal, Getty leased the sites to a subsidiary of GPM Investments LLC as part of its acquisition of the 273-store E-Z Mart chain. Enmarket has officially begun operation of the 34 E-Z Shop convenience stores it purchased from Brabham Oil Co. Inc. Enmarket assumed ownership and operations of the stores on April 19. Par Pacific Holdings Inc. closed on its deal

Wawa Inc. plans to open its biggest store by the end of 2018 in Philadelphia. Rising across from the city’s Independence Mall, the store will be 11,300 square feet.

Dash In will debut a The new new large-format store large-format concept that is the first of store will be the retailer’s first to a number of new stores feature growler planned for the Richmond, and crowler Va., market. At 5,600 craft beer. square feet, the store sits on 2.39 acres, and has 16 fueling positions and a Splash In ECO Car Wash. Casey’s General Stores Inc. opened its first Michigan store on April 13. Michigan marks the 16th state of operation for Casey’s, which has plans to open additional locations in the state in the future. Valor Oil acquired the assets of Harper Oil Products Inc. and Harper Properties Inc. The transaction included nine c-stores. Valor will now have a physical presence in Owensboro, Bowling Green, Louisville, Florence and Maysville, Ky.

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Wawa Inc.

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Wawa, Pa.

Parker’s team is always growing, and we’ve got a place in our family for you. Join us for open interviews and meeting directly with our hiring team on the spot!

Wawa and The Wawa Foundation are teaming up with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals now through June 3rd. We invite you to make a donation at any Wawa to help CMN Hospitals provide patient care, lifesaving equipment, breakthrough research, and more.

TravelCenters of America LLC Westlake, Ohio

18 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

TA and Petro Stopping Centers is excited to announce a collaboration with the American Heart Association (AHA) to further the reach of their mission and provide you with tips and tricks while on the road and at home. Take a read on our first blog below, Plan Ahead to Eat Healthier!

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Retailer Tidbits

TravelCenters of America LLC received a final order and judgement that awards it attorneys’ fees and costs incurred during its legal battle with

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a $11-million company contribution to the ESOP, which equals about 15 percent of the partners’ 2017 gross pay. The owner of L&L Food Stores sold the North Carolina c-store chain to two buyers in separate deals, splitting the portfolio down the middle. The buyers were Bi-Rite Market and Rose Oil Co. 7-Eleven Inc. is testing Scientific Games Corp.’s new SCiQ lottery instant game retail technology in select stores. Retailer pilot programs are being conducted in several states, including Arizona, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. Yesway selected Zipline to create, market and manage Yespay, its new payment The payment program is an program. enhancement to its Yesway Yespay Rewards program. will launch at all Yesway convenience stores later this year Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores rolled out an update for its Love’s Connect mobile app that includes a revamped design, as well as several innovative new features. Among the new features is Love’s Pay for Commercial Fuel. Green Valley Grocery became the official partner of the National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights. Through the multi-year pact, the retailer will receive in-arena branding at both T-Mobile Arena and City National Arena. MAPCO chose Gilbarco Veeder-Root to modernize its in-store and forecourt infrastructure. Conversion of the first 40 sites to Gilbarco’s Passport point-of-sale system is slated to begin in May.


Supplier Tidbits

Campbell Soup Co. has taken ownership of Snyder’s-Lance Inc. Under the terms of the $6.1-billion deal, Campbell acquired Snyder’s-Lance for $50 per share in an all-cash transaction. Ferrero Group wrapped up its $2.8-billion purchase of the Nestlé USA Confectionary business. Ferrero is now the third-largest chocolate company in the world. Oberto Brands is selling substantially all of its assets and operating divisions to

22 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

Premium Brands Holdings. The transaction is expected to close by the end of May. R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. voluntarily issued a nationwide safety recall of 2.6 million Vuse Vibe power units. The move came after consumer complaints about malfunctioning batteries that could cause the power unit to overheat.

Vuse Solo and Vuse Ciro, which use different battery components, are not included in the recall.

PDI acquired Excentus, a provider of loyalty and coalition marketing solutions. The move adds more than 600 new customers to PDI’s roster. Imperial Brands plc is streamlining its portfolio by selling its other tobacco products division in the United States. This division includes a range of products such as roll-yourown brands, tubes, tips, and cigarette papers.

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The Full Spectrum of Foodservice New initiatives highlighted at Eby-Expo 2018 seek to fulfill the needs of retailers that want to launch a program or make theirs better By Angela Hanson CONVENIENCE DISTRIBUTOR EBY-BROWN CO. LLC once

again focused on foodservice at its annual Eby-Expo trade shows this year, with a goal of serving as a one-stop shop for convenience store retailers looking to launch or enhance a prepared food program to set them apart from local competition. Eby-Expo was expanded from two regional shows to three this year to better accommodate Eby-Brown customers. Eby-Expo South took place March 1-2 in Atlanta; Eby-Expo East was held March 20-21 in Cleveland; and Eby-Expo Midwest ran April 26-27 in Rosemont, Ill. At Eby-Expo East, highlights on the show floor included the distributor’s component programs for pizza and doughnuts, which allow retailers to customize what they offer to their unique customers. Instead of offering a specific branded program, Eby-Brown offers the concept of a program, according to Sharon Kuncl, vice president of merchandising, foodservice strategy. “We’re giving our customers options,” Kuncl told Convenience Store News at the Cleveland show, describing how an operator can select from various options, such as types of crust, toppings and sauce flavor profiles, for the pizza they want to sell. For example, a retailer could choose a thick red sauce, a thinner sauce with olive oil, or a sauce with a stronger basil flavor as a standard ingredient in their program. By customizing, retailers can make a strategic choice to be different from their closest competitor that also has a pizza program. “We’re showing them the best of the best, and they’re deciding how they can make it in their stores,” Kuncl explained, noting also that Eby-Brown offers a standard “Hot Fresh Pizza” marketing kit, but retailers can easily customize with their own name and logo, too. In a similar initiative for its doughnut offering, Eby-Brown has formed a partnership with Rich’s Foodservice to help retailers build a doughnut concept that has customizable icing and topping options. Mathew Mandeltort, vice president of foodservice strategy for Eby-Brown, demonstrated various doughnut concepts at the Cleveland event. Retailers can create their own doughnut designs and then highlight them in a bakery case with LED lighting, making them true players in fresh doughnuts, rather than having premade pastries delivered to their stores daily. “The sky’s the limit for creativity,” Kuncl said, comparing the concept to Voodoo Doughnut, a Portland-based chain of shops renowned for its unique and creative doughnut designs. For both the pizza and doughnut programs, Eby-Brown provides a full operations manual that covers everything

24 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

Eby-Expo was expanded from two regional shows to three this year to better accommodate Eby-Brown’s customers.

from employee hygiene to setting up a refrigerated assembly area. The distributor also built a point-of-sale system so that retailers can work with Eby-Brown as a one-stop shop for their program needs. “We tried to put a program out there that’s A to Z for the [retail] customer,” Kuncl said. Along with its customizable prepared food offerings, Eby-Expo showed off two new additions to its Wakefield Sandwich Co. line that the company expects to have a positive reception: • A chorizo and egg on a corn biscuit sandwich is designed to be authentic and natural, appealing to both Hispanic and millennial consumers. It is also the first Wakefield item to have a bilingual description on the front label; and • A first-in-market veggie patty sandwich that is both vegan and certified gluten-free. Prepared in a separate gluten-free facility, the sandwich is cooked in its packaging and handed to the customer sealed to ensure no cross-contamination. “Is ‘Bubba’ ready for gluten free? Maybe. Maybe not. But we also cater to a lot of different customers,” said Andy Batt, vice president of Wakefield Sandwich Co. CSN


Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone The 2018 NACS State of the Industry Summit addresses the need for change By Melissa Kress THE CONVENIENCE CHANNEL HAS BEEN FACING CHANGE on

several fronts — technology, the competitive landscape and consumer preferences, to name just a few. But instead of waiting for change to happen, it’s time for convenience store retailers to be the change. “I’ve always thought that if you are not moving forward, or essentially standing still, you are moving backward and that’s not where we want to go as an industry,” Kevin Smartt, chairman of the NACS Research Committee, said during the 2018 NACS State of the Industry Summit (SOI), which took place April 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill. Retailers such as 7-Eleven’s Alan Beach (left) and Sheetz’s Joe Sheetz shared their perspectives on the industry with attendees.

growing demand for food that makes consumers feel good that does not necessarily have to be healthy, explained Hale, who is also a consultant with Nielsen Co., where he previously served as senior vice president, consumer and shopper insights. Convenience store operators need to keep an eye on the retail scene near their stores and ask themselves some questions: How will the closing of nearby stores affect traffic? Who will fill the food void when the restaurant across the street shuts its doors for the last time? Retailers can also find opportunities by taking the idea of mergers and acquisitions and turning it on its head. “It’s a whole new game when it comes to merger-and-acquisition activity,” Hale said, citing Campbell Soup Co.’s acquisition of Snyder’s-Lance Inc. and the merger of Albertsons Cos. and Rite-Aid Corp. “Maybe we need to start thinking about acquiring new businesses that have nothing to do with convenience stores.”

Don’t Be Left Behind With change comes both danger and opportunity, explained Alan Beach of 7-Eleven Inc. There are disruptors to traditional retail — notably, Uber, Amazon and Netflix. They have one thing in common with convenience stores: They provide convenience.

Whether industry players leverage change comes down to the choices they make. “We need to grow and protect our customer base,” he said. “We need to improve, so we have choices to make.”

“It’s been my mission, and the mission of everyone in this room, to provide convenience to our customers, so I consider ourselves disruptors — or changemakers,” said Smartt, also CEO of Kwik Chek Food Stores Inc. based in Texas.

As he pointed out, the consumer and the convenience store shopper are changing dramatically and convenience store retailers need to anticipate those changes and evolve with them.

Becoming a changemaker requires finding opportunities and seizing them.

According to Beach, becoming a better choice for the consumer takes three things and being the best at one of them:

For example, c-store retailers can capture the aging population. Drugstores continue to miss out on trips from this consumer group as more people order 90-day prescriptions, opening the door for the convenience channel, according to Todd Hale, principal of Todd Hale LLC.

• Product assortment;

Another opportunity lies along the perimeter of the store as demand grows for fresh offerings. Hale cautioned, though, against ignoring the center store, which still represents the bulk of in-store sales.

Research by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, shows the typical convenience store shopper earns about $50,000. This lower-income consumer household has seen a decrease in discretionary share of wallet and has no discretionary spend. On the other end of the pay scale, high-income households earn more than $100,000, and have seen their income increase $46,000 since 2007 and a 101-percent growth in discretionary spend.

Recognizing the role indulgence plays in consumer demands is also key, he said. While there is a move toward health and wellness, not all claims are working and there’s a

26 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

• Price value; and • The three “Fs” of service: fast, friendly and frictionless.


Speakers Kevin Smartt (left) and Todd Hale spoke about the opportunities and dangers that come with change.

Although high-income only makes up 20 percent of U.S. households currently, c-store retailers should be seeking out this shopper, urged Andy Jones, president and CEO of Sprint Food Stores and a member of the NACS Research Committee. “Low income is important to us, but they are struggling,” Jones said.

The struggle comes despite a slew of tailwinds: low unemployment, low gas prices, low prices, and low interest. “We should have crushed it in 2017,” he said. So, what happened? Gas prices began to edge higher, online sales increased, competition continued to heat up, and the political environment appeared to take a toll on Hispanic consumers, Jones explained. In addition, low-income households are earning less, yet having to spend more for transportation, housing, food and healthcare. Consumers have loaded up on debt and, according to Jones, “Our consumers are maxed out.” To survive and thrive, it may be time for c-store retailers to step out of their comfort zone. “We need to become a better destination for more income groups,” Beach said. “We want to become a destination for premium and value.” CSN








1. Nicotac Nicotine Gum

2. FrappaChata Iced Coffee

Lil’ Drug Store Products Inc. introduced Nicotac nicotine gum as the latest addition to its growing portfolio of health and wellness brands. As of May 1, Nicotac began shipping exclusively to convenience stores in two nicotine strengths: 2milligram and 4-milligram nicotine polarcrilex. The nicotine gum is available in a number of flavors, including fruit, mint and cinnamon. It is sold in 10-piece packages for a suggested retail price of $4.99.

FrappaChata is a new ready-to-drink iced coffee from RumChata. It’s a custom blend of Arabica and Robusta coffees combined with RumChata cream liqueur. The rich, smooth taste of FrappaChata is delicious on the rocks or as a mixer with other spirits, according to the maker. FrappaChata, at 25 proof, is shelf-stable and available in 100-milliliter bottles for a suggested retail price of $1.99 or 1.75-liter bottles for a suggested retail price of $19.99. The brand has developed a 100-milliliter bottle counter dispenser for placement at the cash register for an additional point-of-sale.

Lil’ Drug Store Products Cedar Rapids, Iowa (800) 553-5022 lildrugstore.com

Agave Loco Vernon Hills, Ill. (847) 383-6052 agaveloco.com



3. Milk in a Stick

4. SkinnyPop Puffs

Milk in a Stick is ideal for foodservice operators looking to offer high-quality, ambient-temperature milk in portion-control packs to support their hot beverage service, according to the maker. The product is available in whole milk, reduced fat milk, and creamer varieties. Milk in a Stick is made with fully traceable, 100-percent milk from Lakeland Dairies, a cooperative based in Ireland with more than 120 years of heritage. Diamond Crystal Brands is partnering with Lakeland Dairies to distribute the Milk in a Stick products in the United States.

SkinnyPop introduces a new take on its popular popcorn. Made from 100 percent SkinnyPop Popcorn, SkinnyPop Puffs are baked not fried, low in sugar, and deliver 17 grams of whole grains per serving. The new product has a taste kids will love and a simple ingredient list moms will appreciate, according to the snack brand. SkinnyPop Puffs, which come in White Cheddar and Sweet Cinnamon flavors, are available for a suggested retail price of $3.30 per 4.2-ounce bag. The puffs are free from artificial ingredients, Non-GMO Project verified, certified gluten-free, peanut- and tree nut-free, and only 130 calories per serving.

Diamond Crystal Brands Savannah, Ga. (800) 654-5115 dcbrands.com

Amplify Snack Brands Austin, Texas (512) 600-9893 info@amplifysnacks.com amplifysnackbrands.com

5. Country Archer Jerky Co. Meat Bars Country Archer Jerky Co. launched a line of meat bars, as well as a Honey Chipotle Turkey Jerky variety. The meat bars — available in Cayenne Beef, Sweet BBQ Bacon and Herb Citrus Turkey — feature 100 percent grass-fed beef, uncured bacon and cage-free turkey, along with other “real” ingredients such as collagen, dates and spices. Each bar contains a complex amino acid profile made of collagen peptides, and is packed with 15 grams of protein, only three grams of sugar, and 120 to 140 calories per bar, according to the company. The bars are also free of MSG, gluten and soy. Country Archer’s new Honey Chipotle Turkey Jerky features ingredients such as organic honey and chipotle, and packs 29 grams of protein and only 200 calories per bag. The meat bars have a suggested retail price of $2.99 per 1.5-ounce bar. The Honey Chipotle Turkey Jerky has a suggested price of $6.99 per 2.75-ounce bag. Country Archer Jerky Co. San Bernardino, Calif. (909) 370-0155 info@countryarcher.com countryarcher.com 30 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m



MARCH 2018

©2018 SMCI Holding, Inc.

Limited Edition


For more information, contact your Swedish Match representative. 800-367-3677 | customer.service@smna.com | whiteowlcigar.com






6. New Flavors in 7. Ice Breakers Dasani Sparkling Line Glitter Gum

8. Canada Dry Ginger 9. Naked Fruit, Nut & Ale & Lemonade Veggie Bars

Dasani Sparkling is adding three new varieties to the sparking water line: Pomegranate Blueberry, Pear Kiwi and Original. Pomegranate Blueberry and Pear Kiwi provide notes of fresh fruit flavor, while Original offers the clean, crisp taste sparkling water fans look for, according to the brand. The new flavors launched with a soft rollout in March and were slated to be available nationwide by mid-April. Existing flavors in the Dasani Sparkling family include: Berry, Black Cherry, Meyer Lemon, Lime, Raspberry Lemonade, Tropical Pineapple, Watermelon, White Peach, Strawberry Guava, Blood Orange and Pink Grapefruit.

Canada Dry is launching a new flavor combination — Ginger Ale and Lemonade — and celebrating with an all-new digital and television campaign. The latest addition to the Canada Dry portfolio combines real ginger flavor and a splash of lemonade, made with real juice. Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Lemonade can be enjoyed on its own or used in drink recipes for a refreshing punch or cocktail, according to the brand. The launch campaign features a new character, “Ginger Man,” played by Cullen Moss. The integrated campaign consists of national television commercials, audio streaming program advertisements, and an extension across social, digital and media channels.

Ice Breakers added some sparkle to the gum aisle with the release of Ice Cubes Glitter Gum, billed as the first-of-its-kind, glitter-sprinkled gum in the United States. Made with edible glitter, Ice Breakers Ice Cubes Glitter Gum Summer Snow Cone boasts an icy, cherry snow cone flavor. Each cube is covered with a dusting of edible glitter. The gum hit shelves nationwide April 15 with a suggested retail price of $3.69. It will only be available this summer while supplies last. The Hershey Co. Hershey, Pa. (800) 468-1714 hersheys.com

The Coca Cola Co. Atlanta (800) 520-2653 dasani.com

Naked Juice launched a line of Naked Fruit, Nut & Veggie Bars, extending the brand beyond premium juices and smoothies for the first time. The all-new line of chilled snack bars are packed with premium ingredients, including real fruits and vegetables. Naked Fruit, Nut & Veggie Bars are available in three varieties: Blue Machine, Green Machine and Red Machine. The bars contain no preservatives, are Non-GMO Project verified, and are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E and iron, according to the company. Naked Juice Co. Santa Monica, Calif. (877) 858-4237 nakedjuice.com

Dr Pepper Snapple Group Plano, Texas (800) 696-5891 drpeppersnapplegroup.com

10. Hostess Individually-Wrapped Cake Slices Hostess Brands introduces its newest treat: individual cake slices in two varieties, Iced Lemon Cake and Cream Cheese Pound Cake. The Iced Lemon Cake is a moist pound cake made with real lemon juice and topped with a refreshing lemon icing. The Cream Cheese Pound Cake is a dense, rich cream cheese-flavored pound cake. Packaged for convenience, both products are wrapped as individual cake slices, certified kosher, and are now available to convenience stores nationwide. Hostess Brands Kansas City, Mo. (800) 483-7253 hostesscakes.com 32 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m


LIMITED RELEASE Order Black & Mild’s signature Taste & Aroma in a natural wrap with a premium birch wood tip. Contact your wholesaler or Altria Group Distribution Company representative at 1.877.968.5323.

K8041 | Š John Middleton Co. 2018 | For trade purposes only.


Leveraging Category Management to Provide Differentiation Develop a simple store strategy to create the foundation from which you make decisions has been evolving and changing over the past few years. Your competitors now aren’t the same ones they have been in the past; small stores are the brick-and-mortar stores of the future; competition has increased and become much more aggressive; and every day, we hear about more disruption happening in the online retail space and in omnichannel.


By Sue Nicholls, Founder & President, Category Management Knowledge Group

As the retail industry continues to become more challenging, and as stores try to differentiate themselves from their competitors, what can you do better to compete in this new and changing world? The opportunity is to focus on and continue to meet the needs of the all-important shopper within your store. By considering different factors associated with your unique store, you can develop a simple store strategy that helps create the foundation from which you make decisions.

2. Define your target shopper groups Saying “everyone shops in my store” isn’t good enough. There are many sources of information that will help you define your target shopper groups, including: your headquarters or wholesaler; the salespeople/ distributors that call on your store; in-store observations; in-store surveys; and/or census data based on the zip code for your area. Who is it that you are trying to attract (and keep coming back) to your store? As an example, you may identify that one of your target shopper groups is dual income, no kids, well-educated and focused on a fitness and healthy lifestyle. You may have come to this conclusion from seeing them come into your store, coupled with the fact that there is a fitness center across the street from your business, and many of them visit to buy meals after their workouts. They are hungry and looking for quick, fresh and healthy meal solutions when they come into your store.

A Clearly Articulated Store Strategy 3. Determine your most important categories When I refer to “store strategy,” I’m talking about the foundations from which your store runs. At some level, as a small operator or store manager, you need to be aligned to strategies developed at the wholesale or corporate headquarters level. But there are still many decisions that need to be made in your store. Think of these strategies as the rules and principles from which your store runs. Your overall store strategy should consider the following: 1. Define your overall services They may be “low price,” “exceptional customer service,” “broad product assortment,” “educated and knowledgeable staff,” “quick and convenient,” “high quality,” “local” or “fresh” — or a combination of these things.

Determine your “destination categories” based on the largest volume and profit categories plus consideration of your target shopper. There may be some categories that aren’t in your “Top 5” for sales, but that are very important to your target shopper. 4. Define your pricing strategies Proactive pricing maximizes value to your shoppers and improves customer satisfaction. You need to develop regular pricing strategies that don’t just focus on margin, but also ensure you maintain competitive pricing — particularly in those categories you defined in Step 3. You can do this by doing regular price checks at competitive retailers around your store to ensure your prices on your most important categories are competitive with them. Consider competitors with a similar format to yours (who are trying to attract the same shopper with similar store trips). So, other small stores like convenience stores and gas stations. 5. Define overall assortment strategies Making decisions about product

34 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m



At Ferrero, we have a relentless focus on driving category growth. And with exciting new innovations like Tic Tac Gum and Kinder Joy, we continue to delight shoppers and deliver double digit growth to our retail partners.

Source: IRI POS Sales dollars +33.5% latest 12 weeks ending 3-25-18

© Ferrero. All rights reserved.


assortment — the products you carry in your store — is an investment in time, but slow-selling products tie up valuable inventory space and dollars, so it’s worth the investment. Your assortment strategy should address: • Which categories should be included in your store assortment? This is an opportunity to ensure you are appealing to your target shopper, with the emphasis on (or exclusion of) certain categories that appeal specifically to that shopper. For example, products for healthy shoppers. • Guidelines on listing new items (a “one in, one out mentality” is not a strategic approach!) and delisting items (including clear-out policies). For your most important categories — like healthy products — you may want to ensure you get the latest and greatest new products in your store immediately when they become available (for your healthy target shopper). Ask your distributors or wholesalers for market-level data to help you determine the right items to be carrying. • “Share of assortment” strategies. You should have a higher allocation of items in the brands and segments you want to be most developed, relative to their sales, or in segments that are important to your target shopper. 6. Describe how you will use your store to market to your target shopper Visual impact is an important part of in-store merchandising. Customers entering a store are influenced by the visual information they gather in the store. Your merchandising strategy should: • Request planograms from your distributor or wholesaler and determine the ones that best match your store. A planogram is a graphic image that indicates the placement of products for a category shelf. Good planograms consider things like: shelf layout (the flow and blocking on the shelf should match how the shopper shops the section); case plus require-

ments; putting the most popular products at “eye level;” shelving heavy products on the bottom shelf; and preventing out-of-stocks. • Have stocking procedures for your staff to keep the shelves well-stocked and organized. This should include rotating stock, removing expired and damaged product, keeping the shelves clean, and ensuring it’s shelved according to the planogram and not filling empty shelf space with the wrong merchandise. • Define how to maximize use of display ends in your store through cross-merchandising, impactful and meaningful displays, seasonal displays, educational displays, etc. Don’t use displays to store excess inventory! Displays build incremental sales and profit for your store, and you want to strategically use them to help you sell more product. • Drive a consistent display approach that ties in with promotional planning and what the target shopper is looking for. In the example for our healthy shopper, you may want to dedicate some display ends to products that appeal specifically to them. • Consider seasonality when setting up your display ends. For example, back to school, Halloween, Christmas, Super Bowl, Easter and the summer holidays. Review the sales data for your store to understand which seasons are most important to your shoppers, which generate the most sales and profit for you, and/or which products are peak in these seasonal times. Make sure you capitalize on these incremental sales and profit opportunities by merchandising them effectively in your store. The examples above are just that — examples only. Of course, you will develop strategies that match best with your overall store type and who your target shopper is. Once you have developed your overall store strategies, they should be shared with your store managers and all employees that have an influence on these strategies in your store. You should also have corresponding processes and responsibilities in place to ensure the work completed in your store aligns to the strategies you have defined. While small operators should continue to leverage the scale provided by their wholesaler or corporate head office, having store-level strategies and plans is the key that will allow them to really connect with the target shoppers of their store and find continued success in a highly competitive market. CSN Sue Nicholls is founder and president of Category Management Knowledge Group (CMKG), based in Calgary, Canada. She is a speaker and consultant, working with business partners to bring category management training solutions to different areas of retailing like the convenience channel. Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

36 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

For freezer door

For grab and go


White Castle Food Products, LLC 555 West Goodale Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215 614-228-5781 | wcfp@whitecastle.com

Steve Ording 614-559-2473 | ordings@whitecastle.com

Also available in 4-packs and 2-packs of Sausage, Egg & Cheese Sandwiches © 2018 White Castle Management Co.


FROM A SPARK TO A BONFIRE How Maverik went from a solid grab-and-go concept to a best-in-class foodservice program By Angela Hanson

AS A CONVENIENCE STORE OPERATOR, Maverik Inc. serves as an example of how to do convenience retailing right, by embracing a unique identity as “Adventure’s First Stop” and pursuing an ambitious growth strategy that led it to open milestone store No. 300 in July 2017 and land the retailer on the Convenience Store News Top 20 Growth Chains ranking earlier this year.

As a foodservice operator, however, Maverik is perhaps even more inspiring for its evolution from a standard c-store food offering (think roller grill, packaged sandwiches) to a program that is now a best-in-class example of how to take convenience foodservice to the next level. Rich Green, director of foodservice for the Salt Lake Citybased chain, recalls that when he joined the company 13 years ago, Maverik’s foodservice program centered on baking its own fresh bread in-store at every location. Aside from that, Maverik offered “the typical convenience store fare.” The largely grab-and-go offering was solid, but had little to set it apart from competitors’ foodservice programs, according to Green. This led to the development of the BonFire brand. Launched in 2009 alongside a revamp of Maverik’s Bodacious Bean coffee program, BonFire tied Maverik’s food items together under a single identity with an adventurous theme and

38 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m


20 1 8

Convenience Store News



The BonFire Grill concept, which began testing in late 2014, is now included in all new-build Maverik stores.

color-coded labels based on the type of product, such as a red flame for high-traffic hot items and a green flame for fruit and salads.

Grill made-to-order program and add it to all new stores, Maverik plans to keep the adventure going.

Forming a Foodservice Identity

By the fall of 2013, the company was ready to move Maverik and BonFire to the next level.

Maverik has made several significant moves as it’s built up its foodservice program.

Enter Maverik’s new BonFire Grill made-to-order program.

First, it began experimenting with creative, “out of the box” limited-time offers (LTOs), some of which became mainstays on the menu, like the M.O.A.B. (Mother of All Burritos).

“Sales were kind of flat. We were in growth mode, trying to figure out what foodservice meant to us and what the next five years looked like,” Green recounted. The team gathered and came up with some guiding principles to help the retailer along the journey. These included: a serious focus on “fresh”; a goal of becoming destination-worthy; and a unique presence in Maverik’s operating footprint and in the convenience channel.

Next, the retailer reexamined what went into its products and improved the quality to become a more ingredient-based operation.

“We wanted to give customers a reason to come to Maverik to eat something they can’t get anywhere else,” Green said.

Maverik also hired a new corporate chef who brought a different perspective to the business. Chef Kyle Lore spent much of his career working in fine-dining restaurants in places like luxury hotels. He later spent some time in retail as a corporate chef for West Salt Lake City-based Harmons grocery stores. Joining Maverik marked his first step into the convenience channel.

These efforts have helped Maverik’s foodservice offering “explode” in the years since. But it isn’t looking to let up on the momentum. As it continues to develop the BonFire

Lore’s knowledge and ability to help the Maverik team see things differently combined well with the company’s knowledge of customers in the convenience world.

Maverik reached the 300-store mark in July and is shooting to have 400 stores within the next four to five years.

“We had a pretty happy marriage there,” Green said. Together, they asked a simple question with a complex answer: How could Maverik bring more flavor to its menu? The company decided to create a taste profile that was spicier and more flavorful — something that differed from its competitors, which include quick-service and fast-casual outlets, as well as other convenience stores. While it risked alienating consumers who don’t enjoy that kind of food, eschewing a distinct identity in favor of chasing universal appeal would have had its own risks. “When you try to be everything to everybody, you end up nothing to nobody,” Green said.

40 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

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The process involved trial and error as Maverik worked out what would make good menu items, what its customers wanted to eat, and what was feasible in a c-store setting. A common error for the foodservice team, which Green describes as being made up entirely of “foodies,” was to veer too far into upscale items, which could be too expensive to offer or too esoteric to be appealing, such as a spicy Italian pizza with Calabrian chilies. Other missteps came from simply misjudging customer response. One example of this is what Lore calls “The Great Gravy Revolt,” when Maverik rolled out a new recipe for its biscuits and gravy. The new version wasn’t bad, but it was a change customers didn’t want. So, the chain rolled it back, and biscuits and gravy remain a core item today. The financial crunch of testing new items at lower margins was another challenge, but the eventual results made it worth overcoming. “It’s all been really good for us. Even though it takes time and investment to build a platform based on quality and distinction, I think our customers recognized the difference and rewarded us by visiting more frequently and buying more food,” Green said. BonFire Grill features an open kitchen where customers can watch the preparation of madeto-order items like pizza and tacos. Grab-and-go options are also available.

42 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

As Maverik has reinvented its food, the BonFire brand has evolved with it, going from a quality grab-and-go program to a made-toorder initiative in the form of the BonFire Grill, an open kitchen where customers can spectate the preparation of items like pizza and tacos.

The BonFire Grill concept began testing in late 2014 and is now included in all new-build Maverik stores. In 2015, Maverik underwent a store redesign that places food front and center, making its foodservice offerings visually prominent inside the stores and increasing sales by huge numbers in some of the updated stores. “That effort, particularly in new stores, definitely swung the pendulum more toward foodservice,” Green said.

The Journey Continues At the end of the day, Maverik keeps convenience as the No. 1 factor, refusing to compromise either speed of service or the quality of its menu. “Simplicity is important to us, so we can deliver convenience,” Green said. Striving to balance both attributes affects everything — from designing Maverik’s store kitchens to ensure the least amount of wasted time during food preparation, to using equipment that meets the retailer’s unique needs. Advances in restaurant technology help, such as the TurboChef ovens Maverik uses that can cook a pizza in 30 seconds. Upcoming developments for Maverik may include a made-to-order beverage program, which the company is in the initial stages of exploring. Green acknowledges that such a program is a “tough one” for the company, describing how he’s observed sudden beverage orders like a made-to-order milkshake disrupt the rhythm of the kitchen. Working with third-party delivery services, such as Uber Eats or DoorDash, is also something the company is exploring. However, the logistics are more complicated than they seem, particularly when taking into account the multiple delivery services customers use and the labor necessary to fulfill delivery orders during all dayparts, Green explained. Whatever new additions the company might make in the future, Maverik wants to be sure it has mastered its existing program and delivers it right to customers every day. “We’ve had so much rapid growth, focused so much on innovation and program development,” Green said. “We’re stepping back and looking at how we can hone and simplify our existing operation, get it humming like a well-oiled machine.”


Although he describes himself as “not much of a futurist,” Green predicts that five years from now, the foodservice competitive landscape will have continued to broaden as convenience stores catch up to the QSR and fast-casual segments. Younger generations who are willing to buy food from anywhere that is good will make a difference in growth potential and the blurring lines between foodservice segments, he noted.

One thing that won’t blur is Maverik’s sense of identity. Having transformed itself into something separate and distinct from the usual convenience store and c-store food program, Green believes the most important lesson c-store operators can learn is not to be afraid to define themselves. Even though it’s easier said than done, the results are well worth it. “You have to decide who you are and what you’re going to do,” he said. “And go after it.” CSN

THE CHEF’S PERSPECTIVE With a background in fine dining, Chef Kyle Lore brings a different mindset to Maverik where the creativity comes in,” Lore said. “You have to really tear apart processes to develop something that can be successfully executed in our environment, consistently, and have a high level of quality.” Part of his duties involved going through all of the ingredients Maverik used in order to identify those that were not up to the standard they wanted to set, as well as those that could be used to compete with best-in-class convenience stores and higher end quick-service restaurants. From there, the foodservice team explored pricing and samples.

Nothing Chef Kyle Lore’s traditional apprenticeship or his following years working in fine dining could have led him to believe that he would enter the convenience store industry and help spearhead a culinary transformation. But the opportunity came along at the right time, he told Convenience Store News. Maverik needed a new corporate chef and Lore was seeking work hours that were a better fit to spend time with his children. During his interview, Maverik’s Director of Foodservice Rich Green questioned Lore on whether the lower level of creativity would be a dealbreaker for him. Yet Lore has found that he can still be creative by tackling the challenges of reimagining a foodservice program with limited resources in terms of physical space, equipment and entry-level employees. “How to design things that can be produced in that environment yet have a really good fresh offering — that’s

44 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

“We quickly realized that in our market, the customer’s resistance to waiting was very short,” he said, explaining that customers had been trained to expect the speed of grab-and-go items. Their standards for speed don’t go away even when choosing a made-to-order product. This prompted Maverik to focus on quality items that could be prepared quickly and consistently, such as street tacos. It was also able to identify third-party purveyors that were willing to take a leap of faith on the research and development process. This allowed Maverik to negotiate good margins based on volume and growth. “It’s a constant exploration,” Lore said of the process of coming up with new offerings. Using limited-time offers (LTOs) and category innovation to attract customers enables Maverik to grow its foodservice program without undercutting itself with too many discounts or overly low pricing. This means Lore is always working on some stage of a possible new product.

Some of the improvements Lore has overseen are less dramatic, but still resulted in positive change. The company used to buy frozen dough pucks for its cookie program. To avoid the additives and shelf extenders that Lore says prevents frozen cookies from being truly premium, they developed a cookie base that is simple but similar to what someone might bake at home. While there are ways to do more with less, from Lore’s perspective, retailers that want to improve their foodservice program must invest in it. “They need to commit to the labor attached. So many convenience stores try to have the food executed by the same person doing the cash wrap,” he said. “That is so limiting — you’ll never get anywhere with it.” It isn’t that food preparation is too complicated for floor staff to learn, but rather that it is too difficult to multitask, according to Lore. By committing to having employees who are only there to work in foodservice and training them properly, c-stores will see better results and less turnover. He also advises c-store operators to look to higher-end QSRs as their foodservice peers and compete with them on price and quality, as opposed to value-focused fast-food chains. “Why try to compete with McDonald’s on McDonald’s food? That’s a losing game,” he said. “The only thing to do is differentiate yourself. Offer your products and sell them at a price you can make money on.”

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Guiding the Next Generation Mentoring programs lead to better careers for employees and better results for companies By Tammy Mastroberte WHETHER IT’S A STORE MANAGER seeking to grow into a corporate position or a vice president looking to move further up the ladder, mentoring can provide guidance and insight to employees at all levels and, in the end, benefit the organization as well.

“Mentoring leads to better productivity for an organization, with people performing at their peak because they are getting the right answers and references, and they are getting the job done,” Caroline Felici, area trainer for Southern California at Chevron Stations Inc., based in San Ramon, Calif., told Convenience Store News. Mentoring also creates camaraderie and new relationships within an organization, helping to build people up — something that is very important in a mentoring relationship. “When you are a mentor, you never want to bring somebody down. You always want to build them up,” Felici said. “You need to listen and speak to people with kindness.” Not only does mentorship guide others to achieve career success, but it also helps them grow as individuals, according to Cindy Rehwaldt, senior manager of training development at Circle K’s Texas Division in San Antonio. “It enables people to grow within themselves which, in turn, helps them advance and grow in their role at the organization. It develops professional

46 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

relationships that help the overall attitudes and morale of the team,” Rehwaldt explained. “Also, the company has a stronger workforce for promotions.”

Mentoring Best Practices A good mentor provides coaching, guidance and support, but will also challenge and push someone to grow and move past their comfort zone. They lead by example and help mentees discover their strengths, while letting them learn to find the answers on their own. Sarah Alter, president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women (NEW), based in Chicago, said she has been “blessed” to have a number of mentors throughout her career, to whom she would bring questions and challenges. She often received guidance and recommendations, but was also guided to find her own solutions. “They didn’t always immediately tell me what to do or give me the solution to the problem. They challenged me to think it through and come up with the answer on my own,” Alter said. “Some of my most successful mentor relationships were those who didn’t give me the answer, but guided me through the process to get there.” Research shows people sometimes don’t truly learn until they fail. A mentor should be the type of individual one can share failures with; someone who will talk them through a situation to see what they can learn from it — without judgement and with a lot of support.


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“There are mentors and there are sponsors, and the difference between the two is a mentor provides your safe environment. They take the good, bad and ugly, and help you think it through to the other side,” Alter shared. “A sponsor is someone you want to bring your successes to, so they can help elevate your career. The mentor is preparing you to bring your best positioning to the sponsor. There is different value in both mentors and sponsors, but each is equally valuable.” A mentor should also be clear that they are not leading their mentee, but rather “guiding” them as a trusted advisor. Their role is to inspire and encourage, and be a “truth-teller” offering honest feedback, Treasa Bowers, vice president of human resources at 7-Eleven Inc., based in Irving, Texas, pointed out. “A mentor can question the mentee in a way that doesn’t necessarily have the same consequence as an immediate supervisor might,” Bowers explained, noting the mentor should also understand it is a relationship of intentionality. “They have to honor the confidence and trust the mentee is placing in them, and respect the vulnerability it takes for [the mentee] to ask for support.” In her own career, Bowers said mentors have been extremely helpful in bringing her attention to blind spots, identifying appropriate risks she should take, and sharing how to recover from mistakes.

What works most effectively is not necessarily someone who has similar backgrounds. … It’s more about finding the individual who is likely to stretch you the most, and that may not be someone you think you would have the most in common with at the time. — Treasa Bowers, 7-Eleven Inc.

an individual, share their own work experiences to provide guidance and help, and assist them in developing core values to strengthen their relationships, Circle K’s Rehwaldt added. When she started in her current position years ago, she had a mentor who influenced her decisions and guided her to become the person she is today. Her goal now is to help others be successful. “I have mentored different levels in the organization, from store managers to area managers, and mentored my team who also mentors store managers and area managers,” she said. Rehwaldt, who joined Circle K as part of the company’s acquisition of CST Brands Inc., designed and developed an array of training programs for CST. She says her “pride and joy” is the comprehensive Management Development Program, which provides a career path for assistant managers and store managers.

My development programs and my personal mentoring served as the launch point for the careers of numerous CST team members who have gone on to serve as leaders in store operations, marketing and accounting. — Cindy Rehwaldt, Circle K

“They have also helped me pursue my current role and aspirational assignments, with clarity and the understanding needed to be excellent, but not always perfect,” she said. Furthermore, a good mentor will encourage

48 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

“My development programs and my personal mentoring served as the launch point for the careers of numerous CST team members who have gone on to serve as leaders in store operations, marketing and accounting,” she said.

At Chevron Stations, Felici’s mentoring relationships have led cashiers and assistant managers to become store managers — with some being in the role of assistant manager for several years before the mentoring relationship. Often, within a year of working with Felici, they can reach the next level in their career. She finds watching this process a very rewarding experience. “I’ve developed many people and watching that, creating a

WE KNOW YOUR MISSION IS TO PROVIDE FRESH, SAFE PRODUCTS TO YOUR CUSTOMERS. SO IS OURS. As a convenience store operator, nothing is more important than ensuring fresh, safe products for your customers. That’s why we’ve invested over $1 billion in an end-to-end cold chain solution with a multi-step monitoring process that constantly validates product temperatures from the time they arrive at our distribution centers until they’re delivered to our retailers. It’s why we’re a member of IFDA and GS1— organizations dedicated to foodservice supply chain integrity and traceability. And, it’s why all of our facilities undergo independent audits by Mérieux NutriSciences, a leading certification body and auditing provider for the global supply chain. To learn more about our custom cold chain solution, visit mclaneco.com/coldchain

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career path for them and mentoring them throughout, is just wonderful,” she said. “I’m so happy with my new role as area trainer because now I get to engage employees from the very beginning, and I have managers calling me and saying, ‘What did you do, this guy is so fired up?’”

Mentoring Outside the Box While it might seem natural to mentor someone — or look for a mentor — within the same field or department, sometimes the best results come from looking outside a person’s area of expertise. For instance, a chief marketing officer should not only seek to mentor in the marketing department, and a chief technology officer should not only work with programmers, according to NEW’s Alter. “Some of my most enjoyable mentoring partnerships have been with mentors who have a very different role, style and perspective from my own,” she said. “It’s more well-rounded in terms of discussions, and I

Some of my most successful mentor relationships were those who didn’t give me the answer, but guided me through the process to get there. — Sarah Alter, Network of Executive Women

have truly been taught and able to teach them because we don’t think alike.” These types of mentoring relationships can also help the mentor learn a new perspective or gain knowledge about another department within the company — they acquire just as much knowledge as the person they are mentoring. “What works most effectively is not necessarily someone who has a similar background. I don’t think young women

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professionals need to seek out women exclusively, for example,” said Bowers of 7-Eleven. “It’s more about finding the individual who is likely to stretch you the most,

and that may not be someone you think you would have the most in common with at the time.” For those looking to find a mentor and grow within the convenience store industry, it’s suggested they seek to learn as much as possible about all aspects of the organization — even the areas not immediately affecting their job. Learning all they can is the best way for a c-store employee to rise in the ranks, especially if they want a corporate role. “If you have an opportunity to ‘shadow’ all levels of the field organization, you should do it,” Rehwaldt advised. “If you don’t understand the operation from the customer service representative to the area manager, you will not be successful and will not be able to successfully advance in a corporate role.” Being a mentor, or working with one, can change the trajectory of someone’s career. One should not do it unless their heart is in it. Otherwise, they won’t be successful. “I have had the benefits of mentors,” Bowers said. “Many of us can reflect on mentors, whether academic, professional or personal, who have made a profound impact on us.” CSN

52 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m


What’s Hot on C-store Menus? A cheesy mash-up, Casey’s Chicken Quesadilla Pizza scores with customers CASEY’S GENERAL STORES INC.’S Chicken Quesadilla

OPERATOR: Casey’s General Stores ITEM TYPE: Limited-Time Offer DATE: March 2018 PRICE: $13.99 That’s our newest pizza flavor combination, and we can’t wait for you to try it! Grilled chicken, hand-cut green peppers and onions, and a cheesy quesadilla sauce all come together to make this bold new pizza flavor.

Pizza, with grilled chicken, green peppers, onions and a quesadilla sauce, fuses two very popular food categories — American/Italian and Mexican — and makes for one unique and craveable limited-time offer (LTO).

Just the Right Mix of Unique & Familiar

A Pizza LTO With Brand Strength With its high ranking for Draw and Purchase Intent, consumers showed they would want this concept specifically from Casey’s — a chain already well-established as a pizza destination within c-store foodservice.

Even at Its Price, It’s Marketable The only score that the Chicken Quesadilla Pizza takes a hit on is Value (45th percentile). The pizza comes in a bit steep with consumers at $13.99, but should show strength as an LTO geared toward entire families or multiple eaters. In fact, women and households with kids are more likely to try this item.

Convenience stores can leverage menuing mashups to introduce unique new flavors and combinations. While quesadillas and pizza are not unique to American menus themselves, when mixed together, consumers see it as a very new and different concept. According to the Datassential SCORES March survey, which measures consumer sentiment in six key areas, the Chicken Quesadilla Pizza scored in the 96th percentile for Uniqueness, Branded Purchase Intent and Draw. The simple concept clearly resonates with what c-store consumers desire in a pizza.

Datassential, a Chicago-based food and beverage industry research and consulting firm, brings clients real-world insights on flavor trends, foodservice and consumer packaged goods, globally.

54 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m


The Elevated C-store Coffee Convenience stores are upgrading their java programs in both product and promotion By Renée M. Covino are offered alongside creamers and syrups for customization. Cold brew and nitro are solid options, too. Move over Starbucks and the like, this is the new convenience store coffee — and it’s on a rampant rise.


“The days of hot and black are long-gone from the channel,” said Emily Wood Bowron, director of strategic marketing for Red Diamond, maker of high-altitude, premium coffee that highlights single origins and gourmet blends from around the world. “I don’t necessarily believe the price of a cup will continue to rise unabated, but I think product options and marketing components will become more and more sophisticated. “With all of the accessible technology, each generation moves faster than the last, but they are refusing to sacrifice quality. Taste, convenience and variety are key, and both roasters and operators are going to have to continue to innovate,” she continued. “And a higher throw weight matters — think 3 ounces and higher, which produces a more flavorful cup of coffee.” According to market researcher The NPD Group, the morning meal/snack daypart is the second-largest from a traffic perspective in the

convenience channel, representing 30 percent of total c-store traffic, just behind the afternoon snack daypart, at 39 percent. From a beverage perspective, coffee dominates the morning daypart in convenience stores, representing one of every three beverages sold during the period. What’s more, a recent GasBuddy foot traffic report found that convenience stores with excellent coffee ratings in the GasBuddy mobile app received 12.5 percent more traffic between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. than those with below-average coffee ratings. “Given the importance this category plays within the daypart, revitalizing your coffee platform, in addition to traditional breakfast meal/snack items, can play a critical role in growing your overall sales during this important time of day,” noted Randy Raymond, director of foodservice in retail for Coca-Cola North America. And that is precisely the current convenience channel trend, both in product and promotion.

Higher & Higher Salt Lake City-based Maverik Inc., currently operating 300 c-stores across 10 states, has found a successful coffee partnership with Boyd’s Coffee. Together, they have worked to elevate Maverik’s coffee experience and introduce the chain’s first barista program at its flagship location in downtown Salt Lake City. Prior to the opening of the first barista café, the teams went on an origin trip to gain a deeper understanding and connection with where their coffee originates. Boyd’s shares that “grower passion” on its website with a video that invites customers to see that “our growers from around the world work to keep their rich volcanic soil in prime condition so that coffee trees can flourish.” In addition to six handpicked premium coffees, Maverik offers specialty cappuccinos in flavors like pumpkin spice and bananas foster. On the other side of the country, Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based QuickChek Corp. has incorporated an elevated coffee experience into its new prototype store, designed for millennials. The prototype, introduced late last summer, marked the chain’s 150th store. New elements include cellphone and laptop charging stations in an indoor seating area, and an espresso bar offering Americanos, cappuccinos, lattes, mochas, chai lattes, premium hot cocoa and frappes all made to order.

56 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m




The Convenience Store News’ Top Women in Convenience awards program recognizes the integral role women play in convenience retailing. Women will be honored from the retailer, wholesaler and supplier communities in four different categories:

AWARD CATEGORIES* Women of the Year

Senior Level Leaders

Rising Stars


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Even for a c-store chain already highly regarded for its coffee, there are always opportunities for enhancement. Early this year, Wawa Inc. launched Wawa Reserve, a limited-time selection of small-batch, specialty grade coffees, meeting the specialty grade coffee bean standards defined by the Specialty Coffee Association. The beans used for each Wawa Reserve variety are roasted in a small-batch drum roaster, designed to accentuate their inherent regional qualities.

Wawa convenience stores recently added Wawa Reserve coffee, a limited-time selection of small-batch, specialty grade coffees.


The Wawa, Pa.-based chain of more than 760 c-stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida recommends drinking Wawa Reserve coffee black for the best experience. Coffee that does good by the environment is another way some c-store chains are taking their programs to a higher level. 7-Eleven Inc. recently put another notch on its sustainability belt with the switch to a new Rainforest Alliance Certified single-origin Colombian coffee. This marked the Irving, Texas-based convenience store giant’s first permanent coffee variety to switch to sustainable sourcing. The Rainforest Alliance Certified seal assures consumers that the product they are purchasing has been grown and harvested using environmentally and socially responsible practices. With its Columbian coffee switch and other sustainable limited-time varieties planned for the future, between one-third and one-half of 7-Eleven’s coffee lineup will be Rainforest

Alliance Certified. 7-Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 60,000 stores in 17 countries, including 10,900 in North America.

Promotional Lifts

On the supplier side, companies are working to keep pace with the c-store coffee evolution. For instance, the demand for cold brew — billed as a smoother, less acidic coffee — inspired two industry suppliers, JoeTap Inc. and Micro Matic, to partner up on the development of “the first post-mix nitro cold brew coffee dispenser solution for high-volume service.” Dubbed the “Barista,” the companies say the unit delivers more product per ounce of concentrate than any other dispensing unit on the market.

This past November, Des Moines, Iowa-based Yesway celebrated the debut of its Signature Blends Coffee by offering customers Free Coffee Fridays during the month of “Joe-vember.” Any-size coffee, available all day, was free on Fridays that month. Yesway also donated free Signature Blends Coffee to Iowa-based veterans’ organizations and first-responder units

“This alone would offer a broader, more profitable beverage/coffee program for many chains,” said Brian Van Holten, creative brand manager at Micro Matic. “When it comes to nitro coffee, we have seen inconsistencies in the marketplace. Adding nitrogen to a liquid is not as simple as carbonating it.”

The c-store coffee elevation is apparent on the promotional front, too.

The Yesway chain introduced its new Signature Blends Coffee in November with a “Celebrate Joe-vember” monthlong promotion.

throughout November.

A few months later, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. started off 2018 by offering its “Crazy Good Coffee” in any size for just $1 during the month of January, giving customers a break after their holiday spending. The retailer’s message

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A Fountain of Insights Cold dispensed beverages are also being advanced in the convenience channel Fountain drink pricing, great-tasting fountain beverages, and variety at the fountain are among the top 10 reasons why shoppers select the convenience store they visit the most, according to in-depth research recently conducted by The Coca-Cola Co. The fountain brand optimization study surveyed more than 4,000 monthly c-store shoppers. “We know that variety drives satisfaction, and that the number of shoppers ‘extremely satisfied’ with the variety increases from 35 percent when the number of fountain selections are 10 or fewer, to 51 percent when there are 21 to 40 selections. The percentage increases to 68 percent or higher when there are more than 40 options,” noted Randy Raymond, director of foodservice in retail for Coca-Cola North America. Platforms like Coca-Cola Freestyle are helping c-stores solve the variety equation. The original Coca-Cola Freestyle 9000 dispenser requires approximately the same amount of space as a traditional six- or eight-valve fountain, but dispenses more than 10 times the variety, according to the company. The Coca-Cola Freestyle 7000 dispenser, a smaller-scale countertop version, is designed to meet the needs of retailers who want to grow their dispensed beverage business in a more limited amount of space. Across convenience retail, outlets with the Freestyle platform have seen 3-percent growth in median total beverage servings and median beverage incidence, and a 1-percent increase in traffic growth, according to Coke’s research. Fountain Dissatisfaction When asked what is dissatisfactory

60 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

about c-store fountains, shoppers most often cite: • Lack of unsweetened beverages, • Lack of naturally sweetened beverages, • Lack of still/non-carbonated beverages, and • Lack of low-/no-calorie beverages. “Given its role in driving store selection, it is important to evaluate your fountain lineup to ensure it is keeping pace with changing shopper refreshment needs,” Raymond advised. “We’ve seen tremendous growth in dispensed still beverages, such as teas, lemonades, sports drinks and energy drinks.”

To help retailers keep pace, Coke has introduced new fountain options, such as Dasani Sparkling; Barrilitos aguas frescas, which are flavored with real fruit juices, purees and/or spices, and have a high appeal with millennials and Hispanic consumers; and the Coca-Cola Quattro Quench dispenser, which enables retailers to pour any four still beverages across the Powerade, Minute Maid, vitaminwater and Fuze Tea brands. Leveraging Bundles Promoting combo meals and food/ beverage bundles can help c-stores drive dispensed beverage sales. “These basket-building strategies are particularly effective when leveraging fountain, as fountain shoppers are 24 percent more likely than cold vault shoppers to also purchase deli/prepared foods,” cited Raymond. The beverage giant’s research shows that convenience shoppers spend 37 percent more money, on average, when food and beverage items are bundled as a combo deal — $4.45 when purchasing a combo, compared to $3.24 for the typical off-deal spend.

to consumers was that a daily medium-sized cup of coffee from a specialty coffee shop costs nearly $65 every month, compared to just $31 for a cup of RaceTrac coffee every day in January. In select stores that offer made-toorder specialty beverages, customers were also able to purchase lattes, mochas and cappuccinos for only $1.99 during the month. Atlanta-based RaceTrac, which operates more than 450 c-stores in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas, also introduced new coffee machines this year, allowing customers to select their favorite blend and watch the beans grind. Six blends are available: Columbian, Dark Roast, Decaf, Guatemalan, Hazelnut and Regular, all made from 100-percent Arabica beans. More than 12 different add-ins, including creamers, sweeteners and whipped cream, enable customers to make the brew their own. C-stores are not alone in flexing their promotional muscle to benefit the coffee category. Coffeehouse giant Starbucks Corp. has been creating buzz of its own recently. In late March, the chain announced that it was bringing back Happy Hour deals. This came after announcing in January that it would not run its Frappuccino Happy Hour deal as it had in summers past, due to slumping Frappuccino sales. But now they are back and the promotion goes beyond Frappuccinos — it kicked off with 50 percent off any espresso beverage from 3 p.m. to close. Customers are notified of upcoming events and offers via the Starbucks mobile app or through email.

The coffee retailer has also made it possible and more convenient for all customers to order using the mobile app. Previously, only Starbucks Rewards

members with pre-loaded money could use the chain’s mobile order and pay system. CSN

Our Foodservice Advisory Council

Untitled-2 1

DAVID BISHOP Managing Partner Balvor LLC JOSEPH BONA President Bona Design Lab LLC

TOM COOK Principal King-Casey JACK W. CUSHMAN Foodservice Director Circle K (retired)

ED BURCHER Vice President of Foodservice FriendShip Food Stores

CHAD DEWBERRY Category Manager McLane Co. Inc.

NANCY CALDAROLA General Manager The Food Training Group JOSEPH CHIOVERA President, Innovation & Design and Emerging Channels Buddy’s Kitchen Inc.

DEAN DIRKS CEO Dirks & Associates

MATHEW MANDELTORT Vice President, Foodservice Insights Eby-Brown Co. LLC LARRY MILLER President Miller Management & Consulting Services Inc. TIM POWELL Vice President/Senior Analyst Q1 Consulting WESLEY PRICE Category Supervisor, Fresh Foods and Beverages Murphy USA Inc.

RYAN KREBS Director of Foodservice Rutter’s


20 1 8

Convenience Store News 61 4/19/18 4:04 PM


Mixed Messages in Vapor Vaporizers are soaring in the convenience channel, yet e-liquids have taken a hit By Melissa Kress in the tobacco pool less than 10 years ago, vapor products hit some rough waves a couple of years ago. Now, by all accounts, the numbers are pointing to a comeback and convenience stores play an important role in this segment.


What had many scratching their heads, though, were the year-over-year figures showing that vaporizer volume skyrocketed by 497.4 percent, but e-liquid volume dropped 55.6 percent. In overall nicotine share, vapor volume grew nearly 24 percent.

Convenience and gas locations account for 56 percent of all brick-and-mortar stores in the United States. However, they account for a whopping 70 percent of the nicotine volume in the nation. Tobacco outlets make up 3 percent of the U.S. store count and 8 percent of the nicotine volume. So, more than three-quarters of the volume is split between only two channels, according to Don Burke, senior vice president of Management Science Associates (MSA), a provider of data management, integration and analysis. “Clearly, tobacco outlets and the convenience channel are very important to the category,” Burke said during the Industry Outlook presentation at this year’s Tobacco Plus Expo. While the convenience channel is still known for cigarettes — its “cokes and smokes” moniker came about for a reason, after all — other tobacco products have been steadily carving out a place on the industry’s backbars, including vapor products.

Vapor by the Numbers Citing data from the third quarter of 2017, Burke noted that the majority of products in the vapor segment showed year-over-year volume growth. Cartridges rose 24 percent, kits rose 35.3 percent, and disposables held pretty steady at a 0.3-percent decline.

Do the Numbers Translate? The numbers are one thing on paper, but do they reflect what is really going on inside the stores? Jonathan White, marketing director for Spark Industries LLC, said the company’s brands are pretty much in step with the industry data. Sales of the Camarillo, Calif.-based company’s original Cig2o e-Cigarette Kits and refill cartomizers are up more than 30 percent from last year, he said, adding that its Cig2o cartridge products are also up and growing steadily. “We recently relaunched our disposable line and are regaining ground,” White explained. “Disposables are tough for retailers.” The MSA numbers on e-liquids, however, do not jive with what Spark Industries is seeing in its own business. “Counter to reported MSA sales trends, our Vapage brand and Cig2o brand of 15-milliliter and 10-milliliter e-liquids continue to get new convenience placement and sales,” the marketing executive reported. The Cig2o brand — which has been on the market since early 2009 — has built up a good adult consumer base and “developed and earned some brand recognition and equity over the years,” White added. Meanwhile at Fontem US, the parent company of Charlotte, N.C.-based blu, Wayne Jones, senior vice president of sales operations, said pod-based refills are currently driving the vapor segment in U.S. convenience stores. Jones also noted that disposables are showing a decline in dollar sales, down 7.7 percent. While blu disposables are registering a 7.9-percent increase in convenience dollar sales, the overall decline in disposables is being led, in part, by Logic exiting disposables, he said.

Econ 101 Still, the Fontem US executive told Convenience Store News he can understand why e-liquid sales, in general, may be dropping off in the convenience channel. “Simply stated: too much supply and too little demand,” he said. “In hindsight, the convenience

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channel, feeling the vape shop intrusion, hastily jumped into both open systems and soon after the premium e-liquid category, and was soon overwhelmed.” Jones pointed out that many convenience store retailers were just becoming comfortable with traditional electronic cigarettes when the first open systems — known as “pens” — hit the market, bringing with them “a heavy array” of e-liquids. This was quickly followed by the next generation of vapor products, the “sub-ohm” wave, which added higher-power, rebuildable vapor products and premium bottled e-liquids. Both are probably better suited for vape shops, acknowledged Spark Industries’ White. “However, the vape shop probably fell victim to the avalanche for the same reasons — too much supply and not enough demand,” he said. “There was a skit on ‘Saturday Night Live’ about a family that ran the ‘Scotch Boutique’ and all they sold was Scotch tape. Nothing else, just Scotch tape. That’s the vape shop of today. Selling just vapor and, in most cases, not even disposables or kits.” Fontem US’ blu believes the lower e-liquid sales in the industry can also be attributed to a shift in consumer preferences. In the vape shop channel, consumers have moved

Some in the c-store industry believe e-liquid sales are better left to vape shops.

toward purchasing larger bottle sizes (60 milliliters) and away from the smaller bottles. In 2017, blu brand products were sold in more than 100,000 outlets: 66,500-plus convenience stores, 10,950 drug stores, 5,900 supermarket stores, 4,700 tobacco stores and 2,100 grocery stores. In the first quarter of 2018, based on case equivalized units, 61 percent of the company’s sales were in the convenience channel. Citing IRI data, Jones noted that dollar sales for vapor products in the convenience channel for the first quarter were up 81 percent; unit sales were up 34.6 percent. Most major brands, blu included, are showing dollar sales increases this year, he added.


Bottom line: Too many vendors and brands, and all makes and models of temperamental hardware and questionable e-liquids, are now competing for that ever-elusive adult smoker/vaper. “Closed tank or cartridge systems are just the latest product category to invade the space,” White said. (Closed system products require no bottles, refilling or rebuilding.)



1-800-295-5510 64 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

“The product variety is there and the performance is there, and not just from our brand,” he continued. “From a retailing or merchandising perspective, closed tanks systems are about as easy to retail as cigarettes, with a much better margin. “Vape shops will come and go, but the strength of the convenience retail channel rests with its no nonsense, variety, value and time-conscious customer,” he concluded. CSN

A delicious snack for shared munching.

A delicious snack for on-the-go.

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Bite-Sized Opportunities C-store retailers and suppliers share best practices to increase basket size with candy and snacks By Danielle Romano THE CONVENIENCE CHANNEL has long been known for its cokes and smokes and, in more recent years, its suds and grub. But if you ask any convenience store retailer, supplier or distributor what has the ability to drive profits by increasing basket size, they will tell you it’s the highly profitable and highly impulsive candy and snacks categories.

“Candy and snacks — both salty and sweet — are very important to a c-store’s profitability. These categories carry above-average margins and provide a strong impulse purchase opportunity for many of our guests,” Ken Hagler, senior director of merchandising for Tri Star Energy LLC’s Twice Daily Convenience Stores, told Convenience Store News. At Twice Daily, the candy and snacks categories account for about 11 percent of inside merchandise sales and 15 percent of total inside gross profit dollars, Hagler added.

senior manager, c-store category strategy and insights for The Hershey Co. “With 47 percent of purchases being unplanned, and more than 80 percent of purchases consumed within an hour, a candy and snacks consumer is in the market for these product on pretty much every trip.” So, the question becomes: What are the most effective ways convenience store operators can lean into the candy and snacks categories to drive both impulsive and purposeful purchases? Retailers and suppliers shared the following tricks of the trade:

More, Please For Twice Daily, operator of 50 c-stores across Tennessee and Kentucky, two primary reasons for customer visits are to get something to eat and to get something to drink, so the retailer focuses on its fresh food and beverage offers to drive in-store traffic. Once in-store, Twice Daily emphasizes its candy and snack items to entice extra buys. It does this by strategically displaying these categories on the way to and from destination zones, such as the beverage cooler, fresh food area, and along the sales counter.

More than half of respondents (51 percent) in the 2018 CSNews Realities of the Aisle consumer study — which surveyed 1,500 consumers who shop at a convenience store at least once a month — said they purchased candy or gum in the last month, and 56 percent made a snack buy, like a bag of potato chips, pretzels, cookies or doughnuts.

“We believe this provides us with the greatest opportunity to garner that additional add-on sale of a candy or snack item to go with a customer’s food or beverage purchase,” Hagler explained. “We also merchandise top-selling candy and snack items at the sales counter to capture that last-second impulse purchase to go along with the other items being purchased.”

“Candy and snacks play a key role in building baskets at c-stores,” remarked Alan Tobin,

Hershey’s Tobin believes in this approach as well. The senior manager suggests utilizing secondary merchandising in high-traffic locations — namely, the front counter because this is where shoppers spend the most time dwelling. “About 17 percent of a shopper’s total time in-store is spent at the checkout. With an average of 23 percent of candy and snack sales coming from the checkout area, retailers have a huge opportunity to increase basket sizes through maximizing merchandising in this space,” he said. Tobin recommends incorporating one of three merchandising systems at every pay point: 1. Counter unit: With limited space, retailers should only merchandise the best-selling brands and items here. About 75 percent of candy sales from a counter unit are incremental, he reports.

66 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

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2. Under the counter: Retailers who have executed this method saw an average of a 10-percent to 12-percent lift in category sales, with a 36-percent increase in frontend conversion, according to Tobin. 3. Queue line: Recent Hershey research showed a 56-percent increase in buyer conversion at the pay point after a queue line was installed.

Crossing Categories C-store retailers can “lean into” the candy and snacks categories by implementing everyday promotional pricing like “Buy 1 for $1.29 or 2 for $2.50,” which will boost both unit and dollar sales. Another option is performance-based pricing, such as “Buy 2, get 1 free.” This strategy drives more units in the basket vs. a base price reduction on a single unit, according to Tobin.

“Candy and snacks — both salty and sweet — are very important to a c-store’s profitability. These categories carry above-average margins and provide a strong impulse purchase opportunity for many of our guests.” — Ken Hagler, Tri Star Energy LLC

On the other hand, c-store retailers can use other categories to their advantage, namely cross-merchandising and promotional ties with other high-affinity categories like fountain beverages, packaged beverages, hot beverages and foodservice. “Outside of the category, we’ve seen a lot of relying on those affinities to bundle, like buy a baked sweet good and add on a coffee for $1, or buy a packaged beverage and add on a candy bar for X dollars. It provides a value to the customer and allows c-store retailers to lean in to their affinities,” said Joe Thrash, national trade relations manager for McKee Foods Corp., manufacturer of Little Debbie packaged sweet snacks.

Can You See Me Now? On average, c-store shoppers spend only

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Twice Daily emphasizes its candy and snack items by strategically displaying these categories on the way to and from destination zones, such as the beverage cooler.

between two and three minutes in the store, which presents a unique challenge — and opportunity — for retailers to engage and interrupt their path to purchase. Although it seems like an obvious solution, clear and simple signage is a must to communicate specials and promotional offers to capture incremental basket rings. “One of the biggest gaps we see with the c-stores we work with is not having enough signage and callouts to grab customers’ attention, especially when it’s a bundle or a price-driven offer, so the customer sees it and gets the chance to make that decision,” Thrash said. “Too often, signage doesn’t make sense to focus on the bundle offer or is just not there,” he continued. “If it’s not there, you’re not giving a customer a promotion, you’re just giving them something they didn’t actually know they were getting.” Fellow McKee Foods executive Rick Matthews, new business specialist for convenience stores, builds on this theory by pointing to proprietary research that shows packaged sweet snack consumers only spend about 8 seconds in the category. To draw them in, he suggests a heavy reliance on wobblers and danglers. And signage isn’t the only measure convenience store retailers should be taking to ensure shoppers can find the candy and snack items they want — whether they’ve planned ahead to purchase or decided on the spot. Proper placement and merchandising strategies will have a positive impact on the c-store shopper’s experience and the retailer’s profitability. “[Retailers] have to be consistent. Having SKUs in the same place in the store every time is critical because a customer who’s coming in for 8 seconds isn’t searching,” Matthews said. CSN

Save the Date! 11.15.2018 ANNOUNCING ... From the most established brand in the convenience store retailer space comes one of the highest honors in the industry: the Convenience Store News Hall of Fame. This is a must-attend gala event with some of the most admired retailers and suppliers in the c-store industry in attendance, honoring some of the industry’s most influential retailer and supplier executives.


Strengthen and develop industry relationships Be known as a leader in the industry Gain visibility for your brand and products Reach retail and supplier executives and key decision-makers

Hall of Fame is an intimate awards gala reception, dinner and award ceremony celebrating the induction of outstanding men and women who have exhibited exceptional leadership and provided significant contributions to the convenience store industry.




Jay Ricker

Rick Brindle

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Joseph S. Sheetz President and CEO Sheetz, Inc.

Join us as we help nurture and celebrate the exceptional leaders of tomorrow in the convenience store industry. The Convenience Store News Future Leaders in Convenience program celebrates and develops the next generation of convenience retail leaders by providing a forum for talented young business people to hone their leadership talent while recognizing the achievements of an emerging leaders under the age of 35 at the time of nomination. The CSNews Future Leaders in Convenience program provides a comprehensive workshop and networking program that teaches young convenience store managers and executives how to achieve their full potential as leaders in their organizations and the industry at large.

SPONSORSHIPS AVAILABLE! Contact Paula Lashinsky, VP and Brand Director, plashinsky@ensembleIQ.com | 917-446-4117


Go Big & Go Home Spinx opens its largest convenience store to date in its home state of South Carolina By Danielle Romano

New and enhanced features abound both inside and outside Spinx’s largest store.


Co., operator of 79 convenience stores across South Carolina, the adage is “Go big and go home.” Situated on nearly four acres, Spinx recently debuted its largest store to date in Moncks Corner, S.C., a Berkeley County town that is included in the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville metropolitan area. The 6,188-square-foot store, which opened Dec. 14, 2017, builds on the retailer’s Fresh On The Go foodservice offer and introduces its first Ride ‘N’ Shine express tunnel car wash.

At a Glance

The Spinx Co. Location: 2801 Highway 52, Moncks Corner, S.C. Size: 6,188 square feet Unique Features: Expansion of the retailer’s Fresh On The Go foodservice offer and home to the company’s first express tunnel car wash, Ride ‘N’ Shine

The Moncks Corner store — the company’s 11th location in the Charleston area — is situated 20 miles from the downtown Charleston peninsula, with a fresh water lake on one side and the salty Atlantic Ocean on the other. Spinx decided Charleston was fitting for its most sizable location because South Carolina continues to grow demographically with a diverse population, coupled with its robust economy and workforce. “Market research showed a dramatic change from 2006 to 2011, so it lit a fire for us to grow in Charleston,” Spinx founder and Chairman Stewart Spinks told Convenience Store News. “Plus, I grew up in Charleston, so I’m prejudice to going back home where I started.”

A Fresh Offer Putting an emphasis on Spinx’s Fresh On

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The Go foodservice offer, the latest store concept introduces a new kitchen design, or what Spinks refers to as “a little manufacturing facility.” The new layout accommodates more storage and provides mobility in prepping Spinx’s fresh items. Featured on the Fresh On The Go menu are the retailer’s legendary Southern-fried chicken tenders, accompanied by sides like mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese, potato wedges and fried okra. There’s also chicken biscuits and made-toorder sandwiches, wraps, breakfast bowls, and fruit and yogurt smoothies. Other aspects of Fresh On The Go include: • Freshly packaged grab-and-go vegetable, fruit and yogurt cups; • Cold fountain drinks, iced tea and lemonade; • Bean-to-cup coffee, including cold brew and nitro cold brew; • Hand-spun milkshakes and soft-serve ice cream; and • Doughnuts, cookies and pastries that are baked fresh on-site daily. “The concept resonates with customers because our offers remain consistent. Customers know what to expect from us, and we’ve been able to deliver the quality service and food they’ve come to know and

Spinx’s Fresh On the Go foodservice menu includes multiple beverage options, from fountain drinks, to bean-to-cup coffee, to iced tea and lemonade.

love,” Spinks expressed. “We’re not a huge company, but we continue to perfect our offers.”

A Shiny Offer Outside, the Moncks Corner site is home to Spinx’s first express tunnel car wash, Ride ‘N’ Shine, which opened Feb. 15 of this year. Each Ride ‘N’ Shine wash uses environmentally conscious water reclamation systems and eco-friendly chemicals, as well as advanced technology that gives customers the best wash for their budget, according to the retailer. The system utilizes a 3-D scan of each vehicle to precisely target soap and high-pressure water based on the size and shape for the most accurate clean. The new tunnel wash is also equipped with specially engineered blowers to achieve a drier vehicle while conserving energy. Ride ‘N’ Shine operates off a RFID tag, so car wash club members can pull up and drive right through. It was built with two lanes: one for cash/credit/debit users and one for members of the car wash club. Memberships sell for $39.95 for unlimited washes per month. So far, more than 230 memberships have been sold, according to Spinks. “We’re so excited to open our first Ride ‘N’ Shine tunnel car wash. While all car washes may appear to be the same, our new tunnel wash sets us apart from the competition, and our trained staff and high-tech equipment will deliver a great experience and quick, thorough car washes to our

customers,” the chairman commented. The Ride ‘N’ Shine car wash is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. Members of the Spinx Xtras rewards program can earn fuel discounts when they buy a car wash. The Moncks Corner store is Spinx’s first to offer E15 fuel as well. At the 18 pumps, drivers also find 87, 89 and 93 octane, E85 and diesel. Customers can pay at the pump with cash, credit or debit. At the time of Ride ‘N’ Shine’s opening, the company announced it would be the first of many tunnel car washes it plans to open. According to Spinks, the chain will continue to measure the car wash element and evaluate what impact it has on the retailer’s overall offer. Forty-six of Spinx’s 79 locations currently include a car wash. “…It’s definitely one of the elements that I believe is going to help us in the future diversify our offer, so we’re not so dependent on petroleum profitability and its contribution as we have been historically,” Spinks explained. As for opening additional stores of this size, the Spinx founder notes that a c-store complex of this size is not the “end all be all, but it better [be] pretty close.” “The bigger the locations, the more footprint, and in Charleston and other areas, the real estate is in high demand and that means costs are rising. I’m satisfied that we’ve evolved but, at this time, it’s the best we can do and we’ll see if it proves to be the only way to go forward,” Spinks said. “Successful companies, whether they be a McDonald’s or others in the c-store industry, that have a proven concept continue to build on [that concept]. This will be our fifth- or sixth-generation store, so this concept has got to take us a long way down the road,” he added.

Ride ‘N’ Shine is the retailer’s first express tunnel car wash.

No matter the size, Spinx continues to find Charleston “a very good place to grow,” so the company will focus on growth in this area for the next two years at least. Originally, the company planned to build 15 stores in Charleston, but has since doubled that number to 30 since it has found “so much success already,” Spinks shared. CSN


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Male Mentors in a #MeToo World More than ever, men must step up to create gender-equal workplaces TOO OFTEN, WOMEN RECEIVE ADVICE about

overcoming career barriers that focuses on what they need to do — how they need to change. Lean in, raise your hand, speak out, reach back, bring results. It all starts to sound like a big game of Simon Says.

By Sarah Alter, President & CEO, Network of Executive Women

Women do need to assert more control over their careers, but one of the most powerful strategies for advancing women’s leadership isn’t related to what ambitious women can do. It’s about what influential men should do: mentor and sponsor high-potential women. In most companies, men still hold a large majority of the decision-making roles that determine which employees are developed and promoted. By mentoring or sponsoring talented women, high-ranking men can ensure their companies’ leadership teams are gender diverse and reflect a range of leadership styles.

Cautious to Counsel Unfortunately, recent polls by LeanIn.Org and Survey Monkey reveal men are less enthusiastic and less comfortable with the idea of mentoring women than they were a few months ago, before sexual harassment stepped to the forefront of the national — and workplace — conversation. Almost half of surveyed male managers are now uncomfortable participating in a common work activity, such as mentoring, working alone or socializing, with a woman. Almost 30 percent of male managers are uncomfortable working alone with a woman — more than twice the percentage of men polled before major

72 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

media began reporting on sexual harassment claims of high-profile men. Their discomfort with the idea of meeting with female colleagues outside of work has become acute: Senior men were 3.5 times more likely to hesitate about having a work dinner with a junior female colleague than a male one, and five times more likely to say they’d hesitate to take a work trip with a junior-level woman compared to a juniorlevel man. These attitudes “undoubtedly will decrease the opportunities women have at work,” LeanIn.Org founder Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a Facebook post. “When [men] avoid, ice out or exclude women, we pay the price. Men who want to be on the right side of this issue shouldn’t avoid women. They should mentor them.” And, I’ll add, companies must do more to foster men mentoring women. Three tactics for promoting gender-mixed mentoring are: • Make clear to all employees that if they work with, develop, promote, mentor or sponsor only people of the same sex, that’s discrimination. • Make mentoring part of the senior leaders’ job descriptions and compensation. • Institute a formal mentoring program that pairs senior men with high-potential women, and create related goals that can be measured. NEW also has advice for men who recognize that businesses with gender-diverse leadership teams are stronger and, research shows, more profitable. When mentoring: Don’t bring traditional gender biases into the mentoring relationship. Don’t assume “She’s likely to start a family and won’t be fully committed to that challenging new role” or “Moving up would mean relocating her family; she won’t want to do that.” Have humility — it’s a powerful leadership trait. Don’t assume you know the challenges or barriers your mentee has faced. Many women experience similar workplace

challenges and biases, but not every woman is the same. Ask your mentee about her career goals and what she believes has limited her ability to fulfill her potential.

By mentoring or sponsoring talented women, high-ranking men can ensure their companies’ leadership teams are gender diverse and reflect a range of leadership styles.

Set your mentee up for success. Before recommending a woman for a stretch assignment, ensure she has the strong network and support needed to succeed in her new role. Mentoring is about assisting someone to grow a career, not pushing her into a job where the most qualified, highest-potential candidate is likely to crash and burn.

Be open to learning from your mentee. I once reported to a man whose work and leadership styles were 180 degrees from mine. I learned from him and he learned from me, as he was the first to admit. A sound mentoring relationship will help both parties grow professionally. We will never reach gender parity — or grow our businesses — if the best talent isn’t working in the right roles. That won’t happen unless men support career paths without regard to gender. CSN

Convenience Store News is pleased to continue this series of exclusive educational columns by the Network of Executive Women (NEW), coinciding with the annual CSNews Top Women in Convenience awards given out each fall. Fifty female managers, executives and directors who work in the convenience store industry were honored in our 2017 program. In addition to being a presentation sponsor for the Top Women in Convenience program, NEW and CSNews have partnered to develop this series of columns directed at helping corporate leaders drive more inclusive company cultures. Founding & Presenting Sponsor:

Sarah Alter is president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, a learning and leadership community representing nearly 11,000 members, more than 800 companies, 100 corporate partners and 21 regional groups in the United States and Canada. Learn more at newonline.org. Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

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ADINDEX Advance Pierre Foods/Tyson, Inc. ...................................................... 87 Altria Group Distribution ........................................................................ 2–3 Autofry/MTI, Inc......................................................................................... 51 Bake’N Joy Foods Inc .............................................................................. 53 Boston Beer/Samuel Adams Brewery Tour Line ........................... 22 Cash Depot, LTD........................................................................................ 50 Cookies United ........................................................................................... 21 Del Monte Fresh Produce NA, Inc....................................................... 13 E-Alternative Solutions ........................................................................... 63 Ferrero USA, Inc. ....................................................................................... 35 Florida Lottery ........................................................................................... 57 Forte Products ........................................................................................... 52 Gatorade ....................................................................................................... 7 Heartland Ranch Fresh Foods LLC .................................................... 28 Home Market Foods................................................................................. 47 Hunt Brothers Pizza LLC ........................................................................ 41 Inline Plastics Corp ................................................................................... 61 J&J Snack Foods Corp. .......................................................................... 55 John Middleton Company...................................................................... 33 Krispy Krunchy Chicken.......................................................................... 43 Liggett Vector Brands ............................................................................. 25 Living Essentials, LLC .............................................................................. 45 LSI Industries, Inc. ..................................................................................... 20 Mars Chocolate NA/ Wrigley................................................................ 15 McLane Company ..................................................................................... 49 Mondelēz International ........................................................................... 65 Perfetti Van Melle USA, Inc.................................................................... 19 Reynolds American Trade Marketing Services ............................. 9 Sargento Foods, Inc. ................................................................................ 29 Seda International Packaging Group................................................. 23 Stryve Protein Snacks.............................................................................. 17 Swedish Match North America, LLC .................................................. 58–59 Swisher International ............................................................................... 27 The Hershey Company ............................................................................ 88 The Wonderful Company ....................................................................... 67 Tyson Foods ................................................................................................ 5 U.S. Food and Drug Administration ................................................... 10–11 Uline ............................................................................................................... 64 Universal Merchant Services ................................................................. Outsert White Castle Food Products, LLC ...................................................... 37

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Convenience Store News (ISSN 0194-8733; USPS 515-950) is published 12 times per year, monthly, by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W, Bryn Mawr Chicago, Il 60631. Copyright © 2018 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved. Subscriptions: One year, $93; two years, $152. One year, Canada, $110; two years, Canada, $175. One year, foreign, $150. Payable in advance with a bank draft drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. funds. Single copies, $10, except foreign, where postage will be added. Printed in U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at Deerfield, IL, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Convenience Store News, P.O. Box 1842, Lowell, MA 01853.


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Variety Is the Spice of‌Beer? The majority of c-store shoppers enjoy trying different brews and want more options stocked They say variety is the spice of life. The same apparently holds true for beer. EIQ Research Solutions, sister company of Convenience Store News, recently surveyed consumers who shop a convenience store at least once a month about their purchasing habits around beer. Among the insights revealed: 63.3 percent of respondents said they enjoy trying different beers. And they want c-stores to stock more options — especially in the craft, imported and local segments.

Which of the following best describes your beer-buying habits? TOTAL

I enjoy trying different beers 63.3% I generally stick to the same brand 36.7% Base: Consumers who visit a convenience store at least once a month Source: EIQ Research Solutions


70.4% 29.6%



64.2% 35.8%

48.4% 51.6%

Urban c-store shoppers are far more interested in trying new beers than rural c-store shoppers.

C-store shoppers aged 35-44 are the most likely to say they enjoy trying different beers (73.2%). C-store shoppers aged 65-plus are the most likely to say they generally stick to the same brand (55%). How likely would you be to buy a growler from a convenience store? Very likely Likely Neither likely nor unlikely Somewhat unlikely Very unlikely



12.3% 29.6%

For which of the following types of beer would you like convenience stores to offer a larger selection/more variety? C-store shoppers with incomes of $25,000 to $34,999 want more flavored beer options, while those who earn $100,000-plus desire more craft and local beers.

Craft beers Imported beers Local beers Single cans/bottles Flavored beers Lower-calorie beers Lower-alcohol beers Other None of the above


55.3% 46.3% 41.9% 40.8% 29.3% 24.1% 11.2% 1.9% 6.6%

Base: Consumers who visit a convenience store at least once a month Source: EIQ Research Solutions



Base: Consumers who visit a convenience store at least once a month Source: EIQ Research Solutions

Want to collaborate and share expertise with your peers? The Council of Retail Experts (CORE) is an exclusive network of convenience store retail leaders who do just that. For more information on how to join CORE, please visit www.cvcoreinsights.com.

86 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

Survey respondents sourced via ProdegeMR, reinventing the market research process by taking a respondent first approach. Visit www.prodegemr.com for more info.

The percentage of millennial c-store shoppers who say they are buying beer more often from stores compared to a year ago (vs. 17.5% for all c-store shoppers).

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