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LEADING & LOOKING FORWARD SINCE 1861 There’s a responsibility that comes with having pioneered the mass cigar industry and other market-leading product categories: the constant pursuit of new ideas that keep our customers out front. For nearly 160 years, we’ve never stopped innovating and improving. And we never will. Our new identity is just one of our exciting steps forward.

JOIN THE EVOLUTION AT swisher.com/SuccessSimplified





Local, State and Federal tobacco taxes and restrictions on the sale of tobacco products can hurt your business. Governments often pass new laws quickly, so you need to stay informed about what is happening in your area. You and your business matter and making your voice heard is crucial to our success in fighting for fair tobacco policies.

Take this survey to learn more about how you can get involved


Provided on behalf of Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., John Middleton, and Helix Innovations. Š2020 Altria Group Distribution Company | For Trade Purposes Only


Retailer Executive of the Year Sets Example for Future Leaders Darren Rebelez is pushing all the right buttons at Casey’s of this issue of Convenience Store News. And it couldn’t be more appropriate this month to honor the 2020 CSNews Retailer Executive of the Year Darren Rebelez, president and CEO of Casey’s General Stores.


Since taking the reins of Casey’s in June 2019, Rebelez has brought in a highly diverse cadre of exceptional management talent, maintained a steady pace of expansion through both new builds and acquisitions, and led a major digital transformation that includes a new website, loyalty program and mobile app that facilitates ordering ahead and delivery. Much of these accomplishments occurred during one of the most challenging years ever for the retail business due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (See page 30 for more on his accomplishments.)

commanding them. And pointing them “towards the achievement of a goal” implies that the leader has articulated a vision and a goal that results in maximizing the efforts of others in the organization to achieve that goal. The way the convenience store industry — an essential business — has responded to the pandemic is a great example of successful leadership, and Casey’s is a great case in point. The Iowa-based retailer was quick to reduce contact in order to keep its customers and team members safe, including the introduction of contactless delivery, pay ahead for carryout, and low contact checkout. It was also one of the first c-store retailers to give its full-time and part-time employees an additional $2-per-hour pay during the pandemic.

There are many different definitions of leadership, from Peter Drucker’s “the only definition of a leader is someone who has followers” to Bill Gates’ “as we look ahead to the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” However, the leadership definition I like the best comes from Forbes contributor and author Kevin Kruse: “Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.”

This issue also features the winners of our 2020 CSNews Future Leaders in Convenience awards program. The 20 up-and-comers and young seasoned executives being honored this year (see page 42) are the people we will count on to lead the industry in the new post-pandemic era. From the C-suite to key managerial roles in finance, merchandising, marketing and human resources, these talented leaders — all aged 35 and under — will help shape the future of convenience.

I like this definition because “social influence” implies a winning agreement or buy-in from “others,” not

For comments, please contact Don Longo, Editorial Director, at (201) 855-7606 or dlongo@ensembleiq.com.


EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Brett Atherton Bolla Management

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 Finalist, Best Profile, August 2012

2020 Eddie Award, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Series of Articles, September 2019 2018 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Website Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2017 Business to Business, Editorial Use of Data, June 2017

Rick Crawford Green Valley Grocery

2017 Eddie Award, 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

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 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

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

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

Jim Hachtel Eby-Brown Co.

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

Chris Hartman Rutter’s

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

Ray Johnson Speedee Mart

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

Laura Aufleger OnCue Express

Joe Lewis ExtraMile Convenience Stores Ruth Ann Lilly GPM Investments Danielle Mattiussi Maverik Inc. Vito Maurici McLane Co. Inc. Jonathan Polonsky Plaid Pantries Inc. Greg Scriver Kwik Trip Inc. Bill Stein Core-Mark Roy Strasburger StrasGlobal

Jack Lewis GPM Midwest

2020 Trade Association Business Publications Intl. Tabbie Awards Honorable Mention, Best Single Issue, September 2019 2016 Trade Association Business Publications Intl. Tabbie Awards Silver, Front Cover Illustration, June 2015


20 20

Convenience Store News 3











30 Opportunity Knocks Retailer Executive of the Year Darren Rebelez hits the ground running as Casey’s chief. FEATURE

42 Twenty Leaders for Tomorrow This year’s Future Leaders in Convenience honorees are helping shape a new era for the industry.

3 Retailer Executive of the Year Sets Example for Future Leaders Darren Rebelez is pushing all the right buttons at Casey’s. 8 CSNews Online 20 New Products SMALL OPERATOR


24 Business Intelligence 101 Gaining deeper insights into product sales and profits can benefit any c-store operator.


68 Upping the Ante Choice Market’s new flagship store is its first to offer both gas pumps and electric vehicle chargers, as well as a new digital user experience. INSIDE THE CONSUMER MIND

86 COVID Contrasts A look at how male and female c-store shoppers are responding to the pandemic.


66 Female CEOs: More Is Not Enough Firsts and broken records are to be celebrated, but there’s still more road to travel.

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


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BRAND MANAGEMENT Vice President/Group Brand Director Paula Lashinsky (917) 446-4117 plashinsky@ensembleiq.com EDITORIAL Editorial Director (201) 855-7606

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Editor-in-Chief (201) 855-7608

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Senior News Editor (201) 855-7618 Associate Editor (201) 855-7619


16 Retailer Tidbits 16 Eye on Growth 18 Supplier Tidbits 18 Fast Facts

TECHNOLOGY 62 Forward-Thinking on the Forecourt Innovation is just as important at the pump as it is inside the store.

Angela Hanson ahanson@ensembleiq.com

Associate Managing Editor (201) 855-7604

12 Blank Check Company Eyes M&A Opportunities in C-store Industry 14 Virtual Awards Gala Honors This Year’s Top Women in Convenience

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Renée M. Covino reneek@aol.com

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Tammy Mastroberte tmastroberte@gmail.com



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


Account Executive & Classified Advertising Terry Kanganis (201) 855-7615 tkanganis@ensembleiq.com


52 Global Game Changers International convenience stores provide innovative ideas to excite shoppers. TOBACCO

54 Tobacco’s Rising Star The oral nicotine segment is advancing in both sales and category importance. ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES

58 Cheers for Beer Performing well during the pandemic, the category’s momentum is expected to continue.


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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 Ave., Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscription rates: Subscription rate in the United States: $125 one year; $230 two year; $14 single issue copy; Canada and Mexico: $150 one year; $270 two year; $16 single issue copy; Foreign: $170 one year; $325 two year; $16 single issue copy. Periodical postage paid at Chicago, IL 60631, and additional mailing addresses. Copyright 2020 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Reprints, permissions and licensing, please contact Wright’s Media at ensembleiq@wrightsmedia.com or (877) 652-5295. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Convenience Store News, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631.

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

Retail has evolved. So have we. Driving sustained revenue growth for you, our Retail and Brand partners. It’s what we do.

News America Marketing is now Consumer Insights are at the core of how we’ve innovated our comprehensive suite of end-toend digital and in store retail solutions, and our 4,000 field reps, with over 20 years of best-inclass execution across 45K retail locations, help turn shoppers into buyers. Innovation, Execution, Results. That’s Neptune.

In-Store Media/Merchandising • Digital • Incentives

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GPM Completes ‘Highly Strategic Acquisition’ of Empire Petroleum Partners

GPM Investments LLC and its parent company Arko Holdings Ltd. completed the acquisition of Dallas-based Empire Petroleum Partners’ fuel distribution and retail locations on Oct. 7. The deal brings GPM’s total site count to approximately 3,000 locations across 33 states.


Additional Tobacco Companies File PMTAs for Regulatory Review

Time is up for tobacco companies to file premarket tobacco product applications (PMTAs) for the majority of newly deemed tobacco products with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Now that the Sept. 9 deadline has passed, convenience store retailers are finding out which companies have submitted PMTAs and can remain on the backbar pending FDA review.


7-Eleven Hires More Than 50,000 to Meet Pandemic Demand


Casey’s General Stores Unveils Modern Brand Image

During the past six months, the company and its independent 7-Eleven franchise owners added more than 50,000 associates. 7-Eleven and its franchisees are also recruiting an additional 20,000 employees to work in the chain’s 9,000-plus convenience stores in the United States.

For the first time since 1968, Casey’s debuted a new visual identity to reflect its modern guest experience and community roots. The new look and feel reflects a fresh, yet familiar feeling, featuring the company’s iconic barn with white “Casey’s” lettering.


Five Key Consumer Behaviors Are Changing the Convenience Retail Space

Speaking during the recent Conexxus 2020 Annual Education and Strategy Conference, Kay Segal, founding partner of Business Accelerator Team, pointed to five key consumer trends that are impacting the convenience retail space: demographics, smartphone adoption, distanced acquisition, home-based work, and safety and hygiene.


The Pandemic Was a Wake-Up Call for Delivery Years ago, many convenience store operators — Casey’s included — were concerned about the introduction of pay-at-the-pump technology, writes Terry Handley, retired president and CEO of Casey’s General Stores. We feared customers would purchase fuel by swiping a credit card at the pump and depart without ever stepping foot inside the store. Not only would this negatively impact in-store customer counts and the sales of higher-profit products, but the costs of implementation were also steep. In the end, we quickly learned that customers demanded the convenient option of paying at the pump, and anyone who resisted the trend would be competitively disadvantaged. End of story. We now find ourselves at a similar crossroads with delivery. It’s fundamentally a matter of convenience and customer service. By their very definition, convenience stores cannot afford to fall behind in this swiftly changing landscape. 8 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

VIDEO: Convenience Store News Honors 2020 Top Women in Convenience Convenience Store News celebrated 52 exceptional women at this year’s Top Women in Convenience (TWIC) awards gala, which was transformed into a new and innovative online Virtual Watch Party. The 2020 TWIC event was made extra special by the participation of the chief executives of three of the convenience store industry’s largest retailers: Joe DePinto, president and CEO of 7-Eleven Inc.; Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.; and Darren Rebelez, CEO of Casey’s General Stores Inc. All three companies have all been ardent supporters of the TWIC program over the years. For more exclusive stories, visit the Special Features section of csnews.com.


Happy Lane CBD Product Line Leveraging the success of its PlusCBD product line, CV Sciences Inc. launches the Happy Lane line of CBD products. This line includes six product SKUs and multiple form factors, including softgels, liquids, roll-ons, chews and gummies. Happy Lane offers distinctive new flavors such as Berry Extraordinary, Cherry Jubilee and Peppermint Magic, with additional innovations in development. Happy Lane’s non-GMO, hemp-derived CBD products are THC-free and formulated using CV Sciences’ rigorous standards for quality, verified by a third-party laboratory for purity, strength and composition. The company plans to make the Happy Lane line broadly available to U.S. consumers through new distribution channels, including the convenience channel. CV Sciences Inc. San Diego (855) 758-7223 cvsciences.com


SWISHER’S BOLD NEW FUTURE EMPOWERS CONVENIENCE RETAILERS With more than 200 million adult consumers in the U.S., there is no doubt that this segment is the largest and most important for today’s convenience John J. Miller retailer. It should President be no surprise that business growth is intrinsically tied to how a company pivots and evolves along with (and ahead of) the changing preferences of those adult consumers. While Swisher has always been centered on relationships with valued trade partners, particularly in the C-store space, today Swisher is more focused than ever on being the source those partners turn to for the insights and products that create direct connections with adult consumers. Innovative products are one important way to build the future, but they have to be matched with adult consumer insights, superior customer relationships and action to truly achieve the goal of becoming a leading adult consumer lifestyle brand.

SUCCESS SIMPLIFIED: A SERVICE MODEL BUILT AROUND YOU An important component of Swisher’s evolution is – Success Simplified – a platform that makes success easier and more profitable for trade partners. The platform is based on the tenets of

innovation, insights, action, reliability and shared success. These are delivered through a one-stop-shop offering of products, creative packaging, advanced manufacturing technologies, product guarantees and shared performance programs. This is just one example of how Swisher makes doing business easier. Ultimately, the Success Simplified approach is a win for Swisher’s valued partners.


leader. Expertise, product knowledge and growth opportunities are delivered in one relationship through the recent alignment of the company’s offerings

“ The business partnerships that trade customers have formed with Swisher’s knowledgeable sales team will only be amplified further by this expanded effort.”


BRANDS YOU TRUST, BACKED BY CATEGORY FOCUS & EXPERTISE Since 1861, Swisher has always been driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion to create. Throughout the decades, strategic acquisitions, technology improvements and product innovations have enabled Swisher to maintain its position as an industry

into five focused strategic businesses: Swisher Sweets Cigar Company (Cigars & Cigarillos); Fat Lip Brands (Smokeless); Drew Estate (Premium Cigars); Hempire (Hemp Products); and Rogue (Modern Oral Nicotine). In each category, trade partners have access to the strategies, product innovations and relationships that drive success.

THE WAYS SWISHER WORKS WITH YOU ARE UNCHANGED The business relationships that trade partners have formed with Swisher’s knowledgeable sales team will only be amplified further by this expanded effort. The evolution will enhance the category expertise, product knowledge and data-driven strategies that benefit customers. A renewed purpose celebrating human connection, fostering creative expression and strengthening community, along with the unwavering commitment to evolve with the tastes of adult consumers, will guide even deeper connections with partners and their customers. Swisher continues to evolve in order to keep you ahead. Learn more at Swisher.com/SuccessSimplified.





Listening to your adult consumers and delivering what they want has been our passion for nearly 160 years. As we evolve, that won’t stop. Neither will our Success Simplified approach when helping to drive your business forward. This customer-focused mentality brings you the programs, partnership and profitability you need to keep growing. See all the ways we support you at swisher.com/SuccessSimplified.



Blank Check Company Eyes M&A Opportunities in C-store Industry Former Speedway President Anthony Kenney serves as CEO of Recharge Acquisition Corp. raised $200 million as it pursues business opportunities in several industries, with an initial focus on the convenience channel. Led by Chairman Rajesh Soin, CEO Anthony Kenney and Chief Financial Officer Michael Gearhardt, the company completed an initial public offering (IPO) in October.


Kenney is the former president of Speedway LLC, the retail arm of Marathon Petroleum Corp. that is under acquisition agreement to be purchased by 7-Eleven Inc.’s parent company. Recharge Acquisition is a blank check company, also known as a special purpose acquisition company, formed for the purpose of effecting a merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses. According to company officials, Recharge Acquisition’s initial transaction will be in the $500-million to $1-billion range, followed by a smaller deal — possibly a five- to 25-store chain that may be in the

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

$20-million to $35-million range. Recharge Acquisition has identified 55 c-store chains that fall into its initial range, according to Kenney, with the possible targets located throughout the United States. The company plans to start with 150 stores and wants to make the initial acquisition within its first six months. After a year, Recharge Acquisition could be closing in on 180 to 200 stores, Gearhardt told the Dayton Business Journal. All three executives noted that the c-store industry is prime for consolidation. “It is basically a very fragmented industry and so, it’s really good for consolidation and rollup and to improve overall performance with synergies,” Soin said. With the IPO, Recharge Acquisition is now listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market, trading under the ticker symbol RCHGU. The company began trading Oct. 1. Raymond James & Associates Inc. and EarlyBirdCapital Inc. are acting as the joint book running managers for the offering.


Virtual Awards Gala Honors This Year’s Top Women in Convenience The seventh-annual event celebrated 52 outstanding female leaders in the industry By Angela Hanson THE CONVENIENCE STORE industry

gathered virtually to honor 52 outstanding female leaders, ranging from top executives to up-and-comers, at this year’s Convenience Store News Top Women in Convenience (TWIC) awards gala. Held the evening of Oct. 12, the seventh-annual event celebrated women working for c-store industry retailer, supplier and distributor businesses who are making outstanding contributions to their companies and the industry at large. Award categories included Mentors, Rising Stars, Senior-Level Leaders and Women of the Year. Originally scheduled to take place during the 2020 NACS Show in Las Vegas, this year’s program was held as a special Virtual Watch Party due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The pandemic has disrupted so many aspects of everyday life, but there has been a constant in the chaos: a strong sense of community in the convenience store channel and the innovation, creativity and dedication of the individuals and teams running these enterprises,” CSNews Brand Director and EnsembleIQ Vice President Paula Lashinsky said in her opening remarks. Special guest speakers included Joe DePinto, president and CEO of 7-Eleven Inc.; Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.; and Darren Rebelez, president and CEO of Casey’s General Stores Inc. “Through the Top Women in Convenience awards, we’re able to recognize so many outstanding leaders for doing incredible work and making our industry stronger,” DePinto said.

Honoring the Winners TWIC is the first and only convenience store industry awards program that recognizes women making outstanding contributions to their companies and the industry. Judging was conducted by CSNews in collaboration with the Network of Executive Women and the 2020 Top Women in Convenience Advisory Board. This year’s TWIC honorees included five Women of the Year, 21 Senior-Level Leaders, 22 Rising Stars, and four Mentors.

“Through the Top Women in Convenience awards, we’re able to recognize so many outstanding leaders for doing incredible work and making our industry stronger.” — Joe DePinto, 7-Eleven Inc. “They are being recognized for their positive impact not only on the success of their own companies, but on the convenience store industry overall,” CSNews Editor-in-Chief Linda Lisanti said of the Women of the Year. “These visionaries have steered their companies into new markets, new opportunities, and strong measurable growth.”

The Women of the Year were: • Anne Flint, Director of Category Management, Tobacco, EG Group; • Ramona Giderof, Vice President, Convenience Channel, Anheuser-Busch; • Julie Jackowski, Chief Legal Officer & Secretary, Casey’s General Stores Inc.; • Natalie Morhous, President, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.; and • Ina Strand, Chief Human Resources Officer, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K

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

The 2020 Top Women in Convenience awards program is sponsored by founding and presenting sponsor Altria Group Distribution Co.; platinum sponsors RAI Trade Marketing Services and Ruiz Foods Products Inc.; gold sponsors AnheuserBusch, BIC USA Inc., The Coca-Cola Co., The Hershey Co., Mars Wrigley, McLane Co., Mondelez International and Proctor & Gamble Distributing Co.; and silver sponsor Molson Coors Beverage Co.


Retailer Tidbits

Murphy USA Inc. is taking part in Walmart’s new membership offering, Walmart+. Members can save up to 5 cents per gallon of fuel at Walmart, Murphy USA and Murphy Express branded locations.

Green Zebra closed its Portland State University and Lloyd District locations in Oregon. The sites, which rely on student and business populations, have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the retailer.

Circle K is teaming up with Mastercard to pilot the rollout of frictionless solutions at checkout. The retailer launched a pilot of Mastercard’s Shop Anywhere platform beginning in October at select locations.

Kwik Trip Inc. rolled out its line of takehome meals chainwide in response to changing consumer habits driven by COVID-19. The initial lineup features 12 options, including chicken enchiladas and meatloaf.

By the end of November, all new promotional signage will be TXB branded.

Kwik Chek Food Stores is rebranding all of its locations to Texas Born (TXB). Two new TXB stores are also under construction in Georgetown and Bee Cave, Texas.

Eye on Growth

Chestnut Petroleum Distributors Inc. debuted a new logo and branding for its Chestnut Markets through a partnership with GSP. The new logo design will impact 55 stores. It will roll out over the next two years. Chevron USA Inc. is giving its Chevron and Texaco mobile app users a new way to pay for fuel. Consumers can add Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover as their linked payment methods in the apps.

Kent Kwik is entering Tennessee with its parent company’s acquisition of Parsons Oil Co., operator of the Buy Fast c-store chain. The five stores will be rebranded to Kent Kwik and Chevron.

The retailer is proposing to build a convenience Celebrating four store in Chattanooga’s Lookout Valley, which store openings on would mark its entry Sept. 17, QuikTrip into Tennessee. Corp. grew its portfolio to 850 stores. Forty-eight more stores are under construction nationwide.

Wawa Inc. marked 50 years in Baltimore with the opening of a new store in the city. This location is the eighth Wawa store in Baltimore and 54th in the state of Maryland.

Choice Market procured growth financing to fuel the next phase of its expansion plans across the United States. The omnichannel c-store operator will offer a frictionless experience beginning with its fourth location. Quality Oil Inc. purchased Beroth Oil Co. and its Four Brothers convenience store chain for an undisclosed price. The 23 stores are located in nine North Carolina counties.

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

Manlius Oil sold its assets to Agview FS and Gold Star FS, two companies affiliated with Growmark Inc. The sale signals Manlius Oil’s exit from the industry.

Phone: 888-824-3256 | www.cbprices.com www.hempbombs.com | www.naturesscript.com


Supplier Tidbits

Core-Mark Holding Co. Inc. enhanced its SmartStock program to now encompass 15 product categories and leverage data analytics to provide insights to grow sales and profitability.

C-Store Master is teaming up with Geek+ to incorporate three robot technologies within the warehouse to improve accuracy to 99.99 percent.

C-Store Master broke ground on a 120,000-square-foot automated warehouse on Oct. 6. The $12-million facility is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2021.

are expected to reach new markets in the second half of 2021.

GetUpside launched in Denver; Los Angeles; Kansas City, Mo.; Honolulu; Cleveland; Toledo and Youngstown, Ohio; Minneapolis; and Columbia, S.C. Participating locations provide cashback offers, up to 25 cents per gallon of fuel. Celsius Holdings reached a pact for a direct private investment of $22 million with two investors, Asia’s leading private equity firm and a leading global institutional investor. The transaction closed in August. Alani Nu is expanding its retail presence with the debut of five energy drinks in select QuikTrip stores. New flavors Watermelon Wave, Hawaiian Shaved Ice, Tropsicle, Cosmic Stardust and Mimosa are available in 115 stores.

InComm and Current are partnering to enable Current members to make cash deposits to their bank accounts at major brick-and-mortar retail chains. Participating retailers include 7-Eleven Inc.

Del Monte Fresh Produce added six new energy-efficient reefer container vessels to its fleet. Each vessel meets stringent emission control regulations.

D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. and Molson Coors Beverage Co. formed a joint venture that will spur Yuengling beer’s westward expansion. Yuengling brands

GSTV partnered with new content providers La Liga North America and Loop Media Inc. The GSTV network is available at more than 24,000 locations.


Six months after the first restaurant shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, nearly one in six restaurants is either closed permanently or closed long-term.

During the third quarter of 2020, gas station locations with above-average cleanliness ratings drove 21 percent more visits than their below-average competitors.

— National Restaurant Association

— GasBuddy

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

The national average gas price was $2.18 as of Oct. 5, marking the cheapest start to the month of October since 2016. — AAA



©P&G 2020




3 1

1. Reese’s Snack Cake

2. HUZZAH Probiotic Seltzer

Reese’s fans will soon be able to enjoy the brand’s signature combination of chocolate and peanut butter creme without having to wait until lunchtime. The brand is launching its first-ever morning treat, Reese’s Snack Cake, which offers real milk chocolate and Reese’s peanut butter creme in a two-cake pack. The product will be available nationwide beginning in December. Each 2.75-ounce Reese’s Snack Cake pack will have a suggested retail price of $1.99.

As part of its strategic entry into the non-alcoholic beverages category, Molson Coors Beverage Co. introduces HUZZAH Probiotic Seltzer. The brand debuted in September with the support of L.A. Libations, a next-generation beverage incubator in which Molson Coors owns a minority stake. HUZZAH is a pumped-up, full-flavored seltzer with added probiotics to help support a healthy gut. It is available in three varieties: Strawberry & Hibiscus, Juicy Pear, and Raspberry & Lemon. The shelf-stable beverage contains 3 grams or less of sugar and 15 just calories per 12-ounce can.

The Hershey Co. Hershey, Pa. thehersheycompany.com

Molson Coors Beverage Co. Los Angeles drinkhuzzah.com

3. Twang Reserve Michelada Cocktail Mix

4. Laffy Taffy Laff Bites

Twang introduces a premium all-in-one michelada mix designed to be the perfect solution for a michelada on the go. The unique blend of seasonings comes in a 2.5-ounce PET bottle that consumers simply add to beer. Twang Reserve Michelada Cocktail Mix is all natural with no preservatives or corn syrup, and gluten free. The mix is made of 85 percent juice, organic Worcestershire sauce, real lime juice, and ancho chilies. The suggested retail price per bottle is $1.99. Counter displays containing 12 units are available. Twang Partners LLC San Antonio info@twang.com twang.com

5. BuyLottoNow BuyLottoNow is a cashless payment platform that allows convenience stores to accept payment for lottery draw games and scratch-off tickets easily on a mobile phone, with a seamless interface into existing point-of-sale terminals. The proprietary decoupled debit mobile payment platform features no processing fees for c-store operators. A convenience fee of 30 cents per transaction, regardless of transaction size, is charged to the consumer for the convenience of paying with their phone. BuyLottoNow also makes lottery a potential loyalty program that can drive increased foot traffic through merchant-branded, no-cost email campaigns. iVertical Payment Network LLC Boca Raton, Fla. buylottonow.com

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


Laffy Taffy Laff Bites are poppable treats that combine the classic, delicious taffy that fans know and love with a candy-coated shell. Available in four flavors — cherry, strawberry, green apple and blue raspberry — Laff Bites come in three package sizes: 2-ounce single peg bags at a suggested retail price of $1.29, 4.2-ounce peg bags at a suggested price of $1.49, and 6-ounce peg bags at a suggested price of $1.69. The new product features the brand’s signature jokes on every package. Ferrara Candy Co. Chicago laffytaffy.com



VELO opens up a new frontier for nicotine sales A Q&A with Thomas “Brent” Trader, Senior Director of Marketing, VELO Convenience Store News: This seems to be an exciting moment for the modern oral nicotine category. How has VELO positioned itself in the market?

CSN: Is there a particular product trait that has gained the most traction among your adult consumers?

Thomas “Brent” Trader: As adult nicotine consumers seek modern nicotine experiences outside of traditional tobacco products, VELO has been launched as a convenient, enjoyable alternative to meet their preferences. A McKinsey Assessment Report from 2019 predicts that the category should grow about 70% annually, and we feel that VELO is positioned to bring tremendous revenue to our partners.

TBT: Simplicity often rules the day when rolling out products. That’s why all VELO nicotine products are smokefree, spit-free and accessory-free. The pouches even come in recyclable packaging. They’re truly hassle-free, which seems to be what customers of this category are looking for. Our own research confirms that nearly 9 out of 10 consumers who’ve tried VELO nicotine pouches say they are likely to recommend our products to other adult smokers, vapers and dippers.

CSN: What has been the key to setting VELO apart from the competition?

CSN: What products are you featuring at the moment?

TBT: A nicotine company may not be the first that comes to mind as a leader in product innovation, but VELO is transforming tobacco by offering a variety of alternatives to more traditional tobacco products — including premium tobacco leaf-free nicotine pouches and dissolvable nicotine lozenges.

TBT: Our portfolio is full of options that allow adult nicotine consumers to select the flavors, styles and nicotine strengths that suit their individual tastes. We feature 1.7 mg lozenges that come in berry, mint, crema and dark mint flavors. And for fans of pouches, we offer both

2 mg and 4 mg versions that come in citrus and mint flavors. Whether it’s a lozenge or a pouch, customers love the fact that VELO products are always quick and easy to use. And there’s more to come — we’re currently striving to bring more exciting products to market to provide adult nicotine consumers more choices. CSN: Particularly in these challenging times, retailers are constantly on the lookout for the next big thing to bring new traffic into the store. What’s the best way to get in touch? TBT: With VELO, we think we’ve got a solid sales champion. For tobacco leaf-free oral nicotine consumers, our lozenges and pouches are second to none. While we have cut back on our store visits, we still love to hear from our retail partners and look forward to introducing our products on a larger scale. Interested c-store owners are encouraged to visit VELO.com for more product information. Or they can contact their local RAI TMS representative to place an order.

We were honored to receive the CSNews Best New Product Award for 2020. It was a tremendous validation of our careful, innovative product development, and provided a wonderful capper to our successful launch year. For trade use only. Not for distribution to consumers or for display in public areas of the store.

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6. Rebel Hard Coffee 7. Dot’s Homestyle Rebel Hard Coffee delivers a Pretzels creamy blend of coffee and alcohol, created to be an ideal alternative for consumers looking for something new and different in their alcohol choice. Three core varieties are offered: Mocha Hard Latte, Vanilla Hard Latte, and Hard Cold Brew. Seasonal flavors will be released each quarter. Pumpkin Spice Hard Latte is currently available. All varieties feature 100 percent Arabica coffee and natural ingredients. ABV ranges from 4.2 percent to 5 percent. The product can be sold as cases, four-packs or singles.

Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels are made in small batches using the same process the company’s founder started nearly a decade ago. Each pretzel twist is dusted with Dot’s top-secret seasoning. Dot’s Original Seasoned pretzels have a buttery tang, while the Southwest Seasoned pretzels are bold and zesty. Both varieties come in 5-ounce and 16-ounce resealable bags. Dot’s Pretzels Velva, N.D. dotspretzels.com

Twelve5 Beverage Co. Neenah, Wis. rebelhardcoffee.com

8. AriZona Pineapple 9. Gold Medal Fruit Juice Cocktail Ready-to-Eat Popcorn AriZona Beverages adds to its fruit juice cocktail line with a new flavor: pineapple. AriZona Pineapple Fruit Juice Cocktail marks the sixth offering in the line that already includes staple flavors such as Fruit Punch, Mucho Mango, and Watermelon. The new beverage embodies flavors of the tropics and is 100 percent natural, fortified with Vitamin C, and made without preservatives or artificial colors. AriZona Pineapple Fruit Juice Cocktail is offered in 20-ounce Tall Boy bottles, for $1 to $1.49, as well as in a 24-pack. AriZona Beverages New York drinkarizona.com

Concession equipment and supplies leader Gold Medal Products Co. launched a retail-ready prepackaged gourmet popcorn line. Available varieties include its most popular signature gourmet recipes: OldFashioned Caramel Corn, Cheddar Cheese Corn, Caramel & Cheese Corn Mix, Movie Theater Style Butter Popcorn, and Kettle Corn. All are crafted in small batches. The line is gluten free, kosher and Halal certified. Packaging ranges from a small graband-go size to bulk size. Gold Medal Products Co. Cincinnati gmpopcorn.com

10. Bidi Stick 18-Pack Countertop Display Bidi Stick is a ready-to-use vaping device designed for adult consumers interested in a disposable option with enough e-liquid and battery power to last for approximately 500 puffs. Bidi Stick now comes in an 18-pack countertop display, allowing retailers to show customers the product’s nine varieties and position their stores as a destination for a wide range of electronic nicotine delivery systems. Each Bidi Stick contains 6 percent nicotine by volume, and has a fully integrated 280 mAh battery. Bidi Vapor LLC Melbourne, Fla. (833) 367-2434 sales@bidivapor.com bidivapor.com

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


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Business Intelligence 101 Gaining deeper insights into product sales and profits can benefit any c-store operator By Tammy Mastroberte WOULDN’T IT BE nice to know exactly what products are selling or not selling, what time of day they are being purchased, and what items are being bought together most often? What if you could better understand pricing, inventory turns, and sales profit per square foot at each location? Thanks to business intelligence (BI) technology, this information and much more is available to help convenience store retailers of every size make better decisions — and ultimately, boost profits.

The industry’s small operators and singlestore owners often have more limited technology budgets vs. the larger chains, making data analysis seem overwhelming or out of reach. However, there are opportunities available, especially for those who are scanning and using a point-ofsale (POS) system. “Most POS companies offer raw data extracts or reporting services,” Susheel Sethumadhavan, a principal in the advanced analytics practice at Kearney, a global strategy and management

Business intelligence technology enables operators to take their data in its raw form and slice it into usable information for decision-making.

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

consulting firm based in Chicago, told Convenience Store News. “Simple MS Suite products with bolt-on BI platforms like PowerBI can work quite well.” Some small operators choose to hire agencies to assist with business intelligence, but they should also consider loyalty applications, including a mobile app for shoppers, as well as vendor and distributor partnerships that can provide information and insights, according to Hobie Walker, senior vice president of the Small Format Division at Acosta Inc., a sales and marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Fla., which works with convenience stores and other retailers. “Shipment data such as MSA, planogram software, and analytical tools such as Excel and Power BI, syndicated (scan and panel) data, and working with industry associations such as NACS should all be considered,” Walker noted. C-store operators need to be on top of the assortment of products they carry and


the new products they introduce to their limited shelf space, as well as managing their inventory to make sure they don’t run out of essentials, Sethumadhavan advised. Metrics such as revenue, margin, stock on hand, facings and product run rate are becoming more complex to track and analyze, which is why business intelligence is becoming so important. “Foundational BI is becoming key to helping store owners keep track of the wider range of products now available and their higher run rate,” he explained. “Knowing who buys what, when and how they want it delivered is going to be extremely useful in these times of Instacart and other crowdsourced gig economy players who can deliver products conveniently from big retailers.” Many POS vendors, especially those that work with smaller operators, provide basic analytics with a backoffice system that allows operators to see how much they sold, what sold, what the profit is on it, and more. For example, National Retail Solutions, which works with independent and small c-store operators, offers tools that help retailers access this data easily, and the company also provides data on the top 50 items being sold in the area and pricing. “Smaller operators often lack technology and also the market research, analysis and insight, so we aggregate the data from our network of more than 12,000 c-stores to provide merchants with better insight and data to run their stores and be successful,” said Eli Y. Katz, president and CEO of National Retail Solutions, based in Newark, N.J.

Getting Started In order to analyze data and dive into the details of inventory, sales and more, the first step is keeping track of it all. Key data sources for any c-store business include the POS, back-office system and any loyalty programs, as well as fuel pump data, rewards and any data coming from a proprietary mobile app or third-party payment app, according to Brian Brinkmann, chief product and marketing officer at Agilence, a BI technology provider based in Mount Laurel Township, N.J. “Small operators have access to the same types of data just like their larger counterparts,” Brinkmann noted. “The key piece is not just the data, but the marriage of various data sources to fully realize the value. A good option is to work with an analytics partner who will do the data integration, host the analytics solution, and provide expert advice. This is a cost-effective option, particularly for smaller operators who need answers quickly and reliably.” What BI technology enables operators to do is to take their data in its raw form and slice it into usable information to get details around what is selling, how and when inside the store. It’s not just how many Coca-Cola bottles are selling, but what day is the best day for these sales, or even what’s the most popular hour during the week for people to buy this, said Katz. “The insights derived from BI will allow c-store operators, especially small operators, to maximize productivity within their small footprint by understanding category roles, getting to the right assortment within the store and each

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

Bringing in Third-Party Data In addition to collecting data from inhouse systems and working with technology providers to aggregate and analyze the data using business intelligence software and services, convenience store operators can also gather data from manufacturers and industry associations such as NACS to help them make better product assortment and pricing decisions for their stores. “Relationships with manufacturers are important and can provide data, information and insights to their customers, but the challenge is that it is often smaller in scope and more targeted to the manufacturer’s business,” noted Hobie Walker, senior vice president of the Small Format Division at Acosta Inc., a sales and marketing agency. “Engaging with industry associations such as NACS will also provide broad insights, especially around shopper trends.” Additionally, there are vendors that will work with c-stores to provide data from outside sources. For example, National Retail Solutions provides data to its clients showing the top 50 items being sold across all c-stores, as well as the average price each product is selling for across the board. “We can say ‘X product is selling in 90 percent of stores nationwide and here is the price it’s selling for, so you should be selling it, too,’” explained Elie Y. Katz, president and CEO of National Retail Solutions, which works with independent and small c-store operators.


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category, balancing legacy products with new innovation, and ultimately remaining competitive within their channel and across channels,” explained Acosta’s Walker. Whether it’s an in-house solution or working with SaaS (software as a service) providers and other third-party vendors, the best analytics solutions — especially for smaller operators — take out the complexity and make it easy to monitor what is going on inside the store, Brinkmann told CSNews. Many allow operators to log in to a dashboard to see detailed information, run reports and even receive automatic alerts for things that might require immediate action. Convenience store operator Laxmi Narayana Corp., based in Clairton, Pa., and operating 23 locations, chose Skupos to be its loyalty program provider, and Verifone to supply its POS and back-office systems. Skupos collects all the data for its stores and sends reports so that the retailer can see what products are selling, what is selling more than others, and offer promotions to its loyalty members. “They have a website we can log into to pull information or they can email it to us, and we are using their loyalty program to keep customers coming into our store for the past two years,” Laxmi Narayana Corp. owner Bob Dobariya said. “We can track when we offer multipack promotions and how it will drive more people into the stores. We can also see manufacturer data and what products are selling well.”

basket, customer preferences, customer profile based on history, location, gender, and household size.”

Skupos offers a fully managed brand loyalty program that enables smaller retailers to take advantage of discounts with larger brands, and provides them access to all the data. The company’s baseline data and analytics package is $20 per month.

Customer segmentation is yet another area that can be helpful, Bolling pointed out, noting that a loyalty program makes all of this even more powerful. Operators can segment their customers by number of visits in a week, by daypart, by people who stop only for gas, etc.

What to Analyze?

With a loyalty program, retailers can gather information about customers when they sign up, and then track them individually or by segment to see what they are purchasing, how much and how often. They can then target relevant promotions to customers to increase sales.

Once a c-store operator has the systems and vendor partners in place, the options to analyze their data and pull insights are almost endless. However, industry experts say there are some important areas to begin with and these include inventory, volume and pricing. Knowing inventory can help a retailer both reduce outof-stocks and eliminate products that are not selling.

Other areas to consider monitoring are:

“Loyalty opens a whole new level of data,” said Katz of National Retail Solutions. “It allows you to follow trends and make sure customers keep coming back by customizing incentives. If someone buys a Snickers, next week they can get a Snickers coupon. You make it relevant, and the more data you have, the more relevant the offers can be and the more successful you can be as a merchant.”

• Profit margin; • Sales and profit per square foot; • Expenses as its relates to sales; • Profits from promotions; • Fuel pump data; and • Lottery reconciliation.

The data and insights gained from BI technology should be used to continuously manage “The 4 P’s” of business, which Walker said are product, promotion, pricing and placement. This includes making sure a store’s layout, assortment and pricing strategies are in alignment.

“Start with volume — what products are selling week over week and at what volume,” Skupos co-founder and CEO Jake Bolling recommends. “Also, what is not selling and taking up expensive shelf space.”

Also, the more a retailer can know about its customers, the better they can understand what products to carry in the store. “Everything related to the customer is key,” Kearney’s Sethumadhavan said. “This includes shopping 28 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

“Having a deep understanding of their business and performance helps [retailers] to effectively partner with vendors and distributors to optimize their business,” Walker said. CSN

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in 18 months; just ask Darren Rebelez.

In June 2019, he took the reins as president and CEO of Casey's General Stores Inc. when Terry Handley retired from the industry. Far from easing into his role at one of the leading U.S. convenience store chains, Rebelez took on an agenda topped by a new strategic growth plan. Add to that the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the industry veteran has found himself with a full plate. These circumstances, however, showed him the strength of the team he has around him. In fact, he cites the teamwork that Casey's employees have exhibited over the past year and a half as a highlight of his tenure to date. The Ankeny, Iowa-based convenience store retailer got to work charting its new strategic roadmap in fall 2019 and, according to Rebelez, it was a great opportunity for the leadership team to work together and focus on the future of the business and where it could take the brand. "We identified a lot of opportunities where we could build the business and grow the business," he told Convenience Store News. "What's great about Casey's is that it's been such a great business for such a long time, but there's still an opportunity for us to be what I call a more contemporary and better version of ourselves. That's what the team rallied around — that opportunity to do what we do and be authentic to our brand, but still be able to unlock a lot of opportunity and accelerate our growth." Casey's presented the strategic plan to its investors in January and began to bring on additional talent to help the company fill in some capabilities it didn't have. "We've been very fortunate over the last year to bring in some terrific talent, expand the leadership team, and diversify the leadership team at the same time," Rebelez said. "Right now, we really have an ideal mix. About half of our extended leadership team — about 27 people — are people who have been at Casey's a long time and have all that institutional knowledge. The other half are people we brought in in the last 18 months to backfill people who were retiring or to add additional capabilities."

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DRIVING SALES WITH CONSUMER HEALTHCARE A Q&A WITH GSK’S NATIONAL BROKER MANAGER, Scott Breisinger Convenience Store News: GlaxoSmithKline has recently expanded its consumer healthcare portfolio. How does this help GSK and its retail partners? Scott Breisinger: Th co um h l hc m g b w GSK d Pfiz , which w com l d i Augu of 2019, h giv u v mo obu o folio f u i g mo of h l di g b d i mo of h m jo co um h l hc gm Thi w c go y i d of l d By b i gi g og h h wo o folio w ’ filli g h ol , d h om You’ll i c d ffici ci i m k i g d d liv y, d w d commi m o i ov io h will olidify ou di g o of h b fo c- o CSN: These are challenging times for convenience stores. Is GSK developing new ways to help businesses maximize their returns with consumer healthcare? SB: I ligh of h cu d mic, w k ow c- o ow fi d h m lv chi g fo o h m hod o d w cu om o h i i l Wi h ou x d d li u of l di g oduc , w ’ xci d o d liv b m k i g ool h hould l d o i c d l Righ ow, w ’ mo xci d bou ou W ll C di l y I ’ o - o d h will wow co um wi h i b d h of i m — ll o ul c go y l d H vi g h #1 oduc ll v il bl o oi of l hould b m dou boo fo bu i

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CSN: Which consumer healthcare products do you think will lead the way for c-store sales? SB: Fo y GSK h m uf c u d d di ibu d om of h l di g i , GI d moki g-c io b d — Exc d i , Tum d Nico Now w ’v dd d h l g cy Pfiz b d Advil, Ch ick d Em g -C, which o ll i i , li c d cough & cold Th y’ ll l ch m io Bu b yo d full l of o b d , w co i u o m h iz i ov io Thi y w l u ch d Advil Du l-Ac io which, fo h fi im , combi ibu of d c mi o h S cific lly fo c- o , w l u ch d 18-cou Advil Du l-Ac io SKU W l o ju l u ch d ou 8-cou Tum Ch wy Bi , d w ’ll b l u chi g Vol 20-g m h i i i li f g l by A il of 2021 — g i , ll ju fo c- o

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CSN: It’s an impressive lineup. How are they currently performing in the market? SB: W co i u o l d h w y i h l h & b u y, wi h mo h $225 millio i c- o l u lly Ou oduc l d 5 ou of h o 6 l c go i Advil o ll h o h m jo OTC i b d i u l l Tum i h l di g h bu li f m dici by mil i m of doll l , buy , hou hold io — ll c o h bo d Ch ick ccou fo 7 of h o 15 li c SKU i co v i c , i g ly 50% of h c go y’ doll l ! CSN: What’s the benefit of housing all these top brands under one roof? SB: Now h h y’ ll b i g m uf cu d d m k d by GSK, h co omi of c l will h l k co dow

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Casey's is the fifth-largest pizza chain in the United States.

The blend of new people bringing different, diverse experiences and new perspectives balanced with a lot of institutional knowledge gives Casey's the best of both worlds, the chief executive noted. And it all really gelled together when the pandemic hit. “I couldn't have been more proud of how our team pulled together in a crisis and was able to do the right thing for our team members, our communities and our guests, and still deliver exceptional results and execute on our strategic plan," Rebelez said. For his role in leading Casey's through both its strategic roadmap and the pandemic, as well as his 20-plus years in the foodservice and convenience retailing businesses, Convenience Store News is honoring Rebelez as its 2020 Retailer Executive of the Year. This annual award recognizes a retailer executive who exemplifies leadership, business acumen, dedication to the convenience industry, and commitment to community service. Although this is an individual award, Rebelez credits his Casey's team for the honor. "I am very appreciative of this recognition, but this really is a team sport here,” he said. “It is an award that I will happily accept on behalf of the entire team — all 38,000 of our team members, most of whom are working in our stores every day and supporting their

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

communities in tough times and in good times. All the credit goes to the team and everything they have been able to accomplish."

Prep Work Prior to Casey's, Rebelez served as president of IHOP Restaurants, a unit of Dine Brands Global Inc., which franchises and operates restaurants under the Applebee’s Grill & Bar and IHOP brands. He also previously worked for 7-Eleven Inc. as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Prior to 7-Eleven, he held numerous leadership roles with ExxonMobil. Having built up an extensive resume, he was well prepared to take the lead role at Casey’s. According to Rebelez, he gained different skillsets and experiences throughout his career that prepared him for his current role, as Casey's is a fuel business, a convenience store business and a prepared food business. In fact, if the company was a restaurant chain, Casey's would be among the top 50 restaurant chains in the U.S. It is the fifth-largest pizza chain in the country. "There is this big food and restaurant component to our business. When I think about the last three roles that I had prior this — I was the president of IHOP Restaurants; prior to that, I was the COO of 7-Eleven for eight years; and prior to that, I was working at ExxonMobil on the fuels side — so my last three roles really pulled that experience together for this job," he said. "When the opportunity arose, it seemed liked a perfect fit for me and my background, and also it's just a great brand and a great company," Rebelez added.

Hitting the Gas One of the new team members who joined Casey's in the past year is Art Sebastian, vice president of digital experience, who came onboard to help the company navigate a key element of its strategic plan: digital.

Retailer Executive of the Year Darren Rebelez President and CEO Casey’s General Stores

Retailer Hall of Famer Greg Parker Founder and CEO Parker’s

Congratulations! The bar just got higher.

Congratulations! To the 2020 Convenience Store News Retailer Executive of the Year and the Retailer Hall of Famer.


As COVID-19 began to spread across the United States in March, Sebastian and his team went into high gear to accelerate the evolution of Casey’s digital presence. "We identified digital as an opportunity to help us reinvent our guest experience," Rebelez explained. "We had a roadmap for how we were going to evolve the digital experience and when COVID hit, it really caused us to take a look at that roadmap and see what we really need to do to accelerate some things to meet the guests' needs." Notably, Casey's went from a five- to 10-store pilot with third-party delivery company DoorDash to rolling out the platform to 600 of its locations and integrating it into the retailer's new online ordering platform.

What's great about Casey's is that it's been such a great business for such a long time, but there's still an opportunity for us to be what I call a more contemporary and better version of ourselves.

Curbside delivery, meanwhile, was a capability slated for a couple of years down the road, according to the chief executive, but Casey's sped up the timeline and rolled out the contactless service to all of its 2,200 stores in August. "The digital team has proven themselves to be very nimble and responsive to the guests' needs and we were able to accelerate as a result of that," Rebelez noted. In fact, “nimble” could describe the entire organization. "After COVID first hit and we pulled everyone together and addressed the immediate needs of safety — for our

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

CASEY'S STRONG COMMUNITY SPIRIT Like many of its convenience store competitors, Casey's is more than a place for consumers to pick up their morning coffee or play their weekly lottery numbers. Far from just a c-store, Casey's is a member of each community it serves across its 16-state footprint — something that has been woven into the company's fabric since founder Don Lamberti opened the first store in 1959. "He started with store No. 1 and he will tell you that at the heart of what he wanted to accomplish when he started Casey's was just being able to have a store that was in those small rural communities that was able to provide those goods and services that those people needed. We've always been a part of the community," Casey’s current president and CEO Darren Rebelez said. Earlier this year, the company debuted a new brand platform, “Here for Good,” that highlights Casey’s commitment to making life better for its community and guests. According to Rebelez, the platform has several meanings: being the good that Casey's bring to its guests and community; standing for good food and quality products; and Casey's is here for good. "If you think about many of these rural communities where a lot of businesses have packed up and left, and in some cases they have been somewhat forgotten, Casey's has been one of those institutions that sticks around and is there in times of need and to support the community," Rebelez explained. "It's a really important element of who we are." Casey's took this commitment a step further when it linked its new Casey's Rewards program with community service. In addition to accruing points that can be redeemed for discounts on merchandise and fuel, members can donate their rewards points to the Cash for Classrooms initiative. Casey's giving back campaign, which is led by Katie Petru, director of Communications + Community, is defined by three pillars: 1. Education:

Supported through the Cash for Classrooms initiative.


team in our stores and our distribution centers and Store Support Center, and our guests — handling the initial crisis, we then took a step back and looked at our strategic plan and said let's challenge ourselves to make sure this is still the right plan or if it's not, we need to pivot," he recalled. After a second look, Casey's realized its plan was still relevant. "We just needed to shift and adjust a little bit in terms of prioritization and timeline to address some more immediate concerns," Rebelez said. "Ultimately, we landed on the fact that the plan is the right plan for us, and we've been able to continue to focus on that and continue to stand up abilities we identified in that process. We are continuing to execute on our strategy."

The C-store Industry, Then & Now Looking back, Rebelez acknowledges much has changed in the convenience channel since he began his career — starting with consolidation. "If I think back 20-plus years ago, the competitive landscape looked very different," he said. "There wasn't as many large players, and now you have some really big players. Some of those competitors that have been around for a long time have gotten bigger.” Technology has evolved as well. Twenty years ago, he pointed out, there wasn't the prevalence of mobile technology; there weren't loyalty programs; and there wasn't electronic payment.

2. Hunger:

A partnership with Feeding America supports 58 local food banks in the retailer’s operating area.

3. Community

Service: Helping organizations that support veterans and first responders.

"Those are our ways of engaging with the community, and all of them have a local element to them," Rebelez said. "That helps us at a local level to connect with people in need in our communities." Casey’s is now expanding on its education initiative with a Cash for Classrooms grant program. As families and kids are returning to school and routines, Casey's will provide grants to support projects and initiatives taking place at accredited K-12 public and private schools. "Casey's is committed to being here for our neighbors, guests and students. The Cash for Classrooms grant program is another way we are helping schools prepare children for the future, create a skilled workforce, and support families," Petru said. "If you are a teacher, administrator, part of a PTA or PTO, or know someone who is, we encourage you to apply for a Cash for Classrooms grant." Grants awarded will range from $1,000 to $50,000 and can be used for physical improvements, material needs, teacher support or community engagement initiatives, including projects that assist schools with changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Casey's is also rallying around military veterans and their families. This November, customers can roundup their purchases and help provide assistance and scholarships to veterans and their families through two nonprofit organizations: Hope For The Warriors and Children of Fallen Patriots. In addition, $1 will be donated for every online or in-app purchase of a large Casey’s pizza and 2-liter Pepsi brand drink — up to $50,000 total. "Every day, Casey's is committed to supporting our guests, and we know our guests are just as committed to serving the men and women who have served this great country," said Rebelez, a veteran of the United States Army. "As a veteran myself, I am proud to be a part of Casey's support of military heroes and their families, and these two remarkable organizations."

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Rebelez believes Casey's has "a massive addressable market" to pursue further growth of its operating footprint, which now covers 16 states.

At the center of it all, consumers have changed, too, and continue to do so. "Guest preferences for particular products are always evolving and changing, so being able to be nimble enough to adapt the product assortment to meet the needs of guests today vs. what might have been even a few years ago has certainly changed," Rebelez said. Changing consumer trends have also redefined “convenience” itself, he added. "As people become more and more timepressed, there is a greater and greater need for convenience, but what used to be convenience 20 years ago isn't necessarily convenient today," the chief executive explained. "It's really incumbent on us to continue to evolve, stay close to the consumer and make sure we understand what it is they expect from us for a convenient experience." Amidst all the changes, Rebelez acknowledges that some things have stayed the same. "This has always been, in my opinion, a people's business and it always will be a people's business. To the extent that we can attract and retain great talent and develop those people and reward those people, we will be successful in this business," he said. "That has been true everywhere I've been, and I expect that will continue to be the case in the future." Convenience stores’ role in the community also holds steady, as does the need for convenience. "No matter how the world evolves and

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how lifestyles change, people are always going to want to have some way of getting through the day just a little bit easier and to have that quick shopping trip to either fill in or satisfy a craving or immediate need. They rely on us to provide that service," said Rebelez. "That will always be there; it will just look a little different than it does today."

The Road Ahead Where can Casey's go from here? With a strong team, a great financial plan and a solid balance sheet, Rebelez believes the possibilities are endless for the retailer. "We have a massive addressable market. We have 2,200 stores in 16 states, but of those, 2,000 are in nine states. We still have a lot of room to grow in our existing footprint, but if you step back and look at the entire U.S., there are small towns and communities in every state," he said. "There really is no reason why our brand of convenience, our way of showing up in the community and our way of engaging with the community and providing our famous Casey's pizza and everything else that we do, can't resonate everywhere," he added. At the same time, the CEO believes Casey's has the opportunity to do what it does better. "I think our team has come to that realization: we are pretty good, but we can be great. We show up every day and try to be better than the day before and [are] continuing on that path," he said. In fact, the Retailer Executive of the Year thinks they are just getting started. “When I think about the team we put together, I think nine or 10 of our recent executives are still working on their first year at Casey's. We've been able to accomplish a lot in a short period of time,” he said. “I'm really excited to see what this team can do." CSN

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FOR TOMORROW This year’s Future Leaders in Convenience honorees are helping shape a new era for the industry By Angela Hanson & Danielle Romano

the convenience store industry is facing rapid change and unexpected challenges, leadership is more important than ever. This not only includes top management, but also emerging leaders who are demonstrating their ability to achieve strong results and help both their companies and the c-store industry overall thrive in this new era of retail.


The 2020 Convenience Store News Future Leaders in Convenience awards program, now in its third year, honors the largest class yet consisting of 20 up-and-comers and young seasoned executives from c-store chains of all sizes. Their roles range from a company president, to a chief financial officer, to category managers, and marketing and human resources execs. While their duties may differ, this year's honored leaders have several important things in common. They strive for excellence; they have achieved notable, verifiable results in their past and current positions; and they serve as strong professional role models to the teams they oversee as they help shape the future of convenience. The winners — all talented emerging leaders aged 35 and under — were selected based

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on nominations from their peers and mentors that showcased their accomplishments over the past 12 months. The 20 honorees will be celebrated at a virtual awards program in December. The 2020 Future Leaders in Convenience are:

Brad Campbell Category Leader, Tobacco Sheetz Inc. • Campbell is responsible for sales and marketing of the snuff, cigar, e-cigarette and CBD categories at Sheetz, which he joined in 2009 as a frontline sales associate. He previously worked in the merchandising department as a planogram analyst, and as the retail space manager overseeing the planogram team and lottery sales for six states. • According to his nominators, Campbell brings a new perspective to emerging categories and has worked on creative merchandising and value resource plans to be first to market, while evolving plans from year to year to produce best-in-class standards. He has made tremendous headway in the OTP category in a short period of time. • In his free time, he is an avid golfer and enjoys hiking and coaching baseball.

Shelby Clayton Store Operations Supervisor Casey's General Stores Inc. • Clayton supports all store operations across the company, pilots all projects affecting Casey's field team members, and works out the implementation and communications for all project rollouts. • She also provides guidance to team members on daily work tasks, merchandising, customer service, systems and new initiatives. • Clayton's nominator commended her for stepping into a leadership role and demonstrating a commitment to excellence after a very short time with the company. She is known to be dedicated in her support of Casey’s field teams and consistently striving for ways to make those teams more efficient and effective.

Ashley Duffy Regional Manager Global Partners LP • Duffy leads store operations and supports staffing, coaching, developing and managing the performance of six territory managers and store teams, while also managing her region's sales growth and financial performance. She is responsible for six territories and oversees one of the company's most profitable and strategic regions. • She started with Global Partners 16 years ago as a part-time cashier while going to school and from there, moved up the ranks as a top-performing store manager, assistant territory manager, and territory manager. • Duffy played a key role in partnering with the company's accounting and price book teams to upgrade store operating systems and write training manuals. She is regularly called upon by company leadership as a subject matter expert for operations initiatives.

Caroline Filchak Director of Wholesale Operations Clipper Petroleum • Filchak manages the day-

to-day operations of Clipper's wholesale department, which includes credit and AR management, supply management with carriers, dealer contract monitoring and enforcement, optimization of Clipper's PDI backoffice platform, dealer store operations, and execution of fuel brand marketing programs. • Her nominator called her an outstanding leader who continuously promotes change in an evolving channel. One of her recent accomplishments is the development of a dealer customer stratification tool that allows Clipper to grade each dealer store based on a variety of factors. • Filchak previously served as director of human resources and director of retail operations for Clipper. In 2016, Convenience Store News honored her as a Top Woman in Convenience in the Rising Stars category.

Anthony Gross Senior Category Manager Casey's General Stores Inc. • After receiving his degree, Gross joined Casey's category management team where he handled a variety of general merchandise categories before spending the last few years managing Casey's cigarette and tobacco business. • He believes the industry's ability and willingness to adapt to guest needs and expectations is one of the foremost things that makes it great, and credits strong leaders in part for the industry’s adaptability and resiliency. In fact, industry leadership inspired Gross to attend night school and earn his MBA while working full-time at Casey's. • According to his nominator, Gross leads by example and is deeply invested in getting results the right way.

Lisa Ham Senior Category Manager, Grocery & Center Store Yesway • After joining Yesway as a tobacco category manager in 2017, Ham went on to manage most store categories and currently oversees the snacks, candy, HBA, general merchandise and grocery sections of the stores. She says her favorite part of being a category manager is working with data analytics. • Ham loves to mentor peers and test new ideas, and has been recognized internally as a leader in the merchandising department. She also has been recognized for her ability to grow sales and margin in a competitive environment.


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• Her career goals include building upon her data analytics background and using that knowledge to teach others how to utilize computer algorithms to make better decisions. She is currently obtaining a Master of Science degree in data analytics.

Christopher Hartman Director of Fuels, Forecourt & Advertising Rutter’s • After graduating with a degree in accounting and finance, Hartman began his professional career with Crossmark as a food broker in its management training program. He later earned his master’s degree through George Washington University's global MBA program and joined Rutter's in 2018. Hartman grew up in the convenience store industry and is part of the 11th generation of his family to work for Rutter's. • In his current role, he manages fuel, Rutter's top revenue driver, along with the forecourt, which includes car washes and signage. Hartman also oversees the company's advertising department. According to his nominator, he has proven to be a valuable asset in growing store sales and profits. • Hartman represents Rutter's at charity events and serves as chairman of the board for Rutter’s Children’s Charities. In his free time, he enjoys golfing and is currently on a quest to play the top 100 golf courses in the world with his father, Scott Hartman, who serves as president and CEO of Rutter’s.

Caleb Hill District Manager StrasGlobal • Hill began his career with StrasGlobal in 2006, managing grand-opening projects for Mobil’s On The Run in the greater New York area. Since then, he’s held a variety of positions with companies such as Kilgo Retail Services, Par Petroleum (now Hawaiian Independent Energy), SDI Petroleum and Mountain Express Oil Co., before returning to StrasGlobal. • In his current role, Hill oversees store operations in California, Louisiana and Texas, where his sites were chosen to test

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StrasGlobal’s new online ordering, curbside delivery and home delivery programs. • According to his nominator, Hill demonstrates leadership skills by communicating with and motivating his team on a regular and clear basis, listening to his team and being empathetic to their needs, putting the needs of his team at the forefront and looking out for them, and leading by example. Earlier this year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he volunteered to drive long distances to deliver masks, gloves and other safety equipment to his stores and other StrasGlobal locations.

Chiquita Jones Director of Operations, Heartland Business Unit Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K • Jones oversees a region consisting of 109 Circle K stores, where she manages, leads and develops market managers through mentorship, setting expectations, evaluating performance, and laying out developmental blueprints. • She is a truly inspirational leader both in her professional and personal life, according to her nominator. Adopting a servant leadership approach, she focuses on building trust, integrity and communication among her team members to help them thrive and deliver results. • Jones was named the Circle K Heartland Regional Director Ambassador of the Year in both 2018 and 2019, and received a Chicago Scholars 35 Under 35 IMPACT Award.

Lisa Lem Category Manager, Foodservice & Dispensed Beverages Tri Star Energy • Lem is responsible for the development and implementation of all elements of Tri Star Energy's foodservice operations and leads the sales, merchandising and product development plans. • She is known for being a forward thinker who helps Tri Star increase its foodservice customer base and exceed sales and profitability goals for food and beverages. In 2019, she spearheaded a project connecting the company's label printers to actual sales data, allowing it to improve production planning and cut down on waste. • In addition to 16 years of foodservice management, Lem holds an MBA in business from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Manage-ment & Dietetics from Western Kentucky University.

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Michael Maggiacomo Senior Product Manager, 7NOW Digital Operations 7-Eleven Inc. • Maggiacomo started his career at 7-Eleven in 2013 as a guest experience manager. Since then, he has held several roles including business consultant, zone merchandising manager and zone digital manager before being promoted in 2019 to his current role as senior product manager for 7NOW digital operations. • He received 7-Eleven’s Business Consultant of the Year award in 2015 and 2017, and earned a Special Achievement Award at the annual 7-Eleven Conference in 2018 and 2019. • Femi Cole, senior director of 7NOW Operations, said in his nomination of Maggiacomo that: “Michael has been a leader and has been instrumental in the development of [7NOW]. He provides incalculable support to the teams around him.”

Norah McNeil Human Resources Manager OnCue Marketing LLC • McNeil began her career with OnCue in the accounting department. Shortly after, she accepted a position in the human resources department, where she discovered her passion for building relationships and employee engagement. • During her tenure with OnCue, she has seen the company grow from 400 employees to more than 1,200. She influences various HR functions and decisions, including legal and government compliance, employee relations, performance management, internal communications, and workplace optimization. • McNeil was a strong advocate for the creation of OnCue’s Employee Advisory Committee, which she now facilitates with company President Laura Aufleger.

Alicia Mowder Head of U.S. Marketing, Circle K Global Division Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K

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• Mowder has been critical in developing the U.S. marketing team for Circle K. She leads a team that develops and delivers national campaigns, media strategy, traffic promotions, marketing innovation, and customer engagement. A new gamification platform that she brought to the United States has been key to new customer acquisition over the past year. • According to Letty George, Circle K’s global events and HR communications manager, a significant part of Mowder’s success has been forming great teams and letting them know it isn’t about age, but rather passion and purpose. She believes in mentoring others and is actively engaged in developing future female leaders in the industry. • Mowder holds a Master of Science degree in marketing communications from the University of Kansas, a Bachelor of Arts degree in advertising from Washburn University, and a certificate from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Michael O’Donnell Area Sales Manager Empire Petroleum Partners LLC • O’Donnell joined Empire Petroleum three years ago as a territory sales manager in Dallas. He was promoted to area sales manager last summer and now covers 300 locations throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Louisiana, Arkansas and south Texas. • As part of his duties, O’Donnell drives initiatives around pricing, credit, promotions, contract renewals, marketing programs, real estate, environmental compliance, and more. He has received the West Divisional Sales Leader Award, as well as other internal accolades, including the Empire Top Dawg Quarterly Recognition. • O’Donnell previously worked for RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. as a development supervisor and Murphy USA as a district manager before joining Empire Petroleum.

Brian Prevatt Chief Financial Officer Parker’s Convenience • Prevatt spent nearly a decade as a tax manager with Hancock Askew & Co. LLP. He joined Parker’s as a CPA — a role he held for eight years before being promoted to chief financial officer. Within a few weeks of becoming CFO, he negotiated exceptional terms on the largest loan in the company’s history as part of a strategic capital plan to support rapid growth while maintaining a strong balance sheet.


• Prevatt has been honored with a Generation Next/Rising Stars Award, given to the top business leaders in Savannah, Ga., under the age of 40, and was recognized with a Georgia Southern University 40 Under 40 Alumni Award in 2019.

category manager, adding soup, salad and fresh snacks to her responsibilities. While managing the soup category, she took the program to the next level and launched the first “always fresh, never frozen” program and an expansive line of made-to-order mac & cheese bowls.

• An active community volunteer, Prevatt has served as a board member for the United Way of the Coastal Empire’s Community Investments Committee, the Live Oak Public Libraries Foundation, Telfair Museums' William Jay Society, Savannah Community Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Committee, and the Royce Learning Center. Additionally, he is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Georgia Society of CPAs.

• In 2018, she became a senior category manager, taking on the sandwich category. She has spent the last two years focusing on sourcing ingredients, improving process, and pushing the program to the next level.

Ryan Razowsky President Rmarts LLC • Razowsky is the third generation of his family to serve in a leadership role at Rmarts. He has worked in the stores since his mid-teens and performed every job within the organization. His hands-on approach and attention to detail are trademarks of his outstanding work ethic, according to his nominator. • In 2017, Razowsky spearheaded negotiations in the purchase of 10 high-volume retail locations from World Fuel Services. He then led the integration of the acquired sites, including the installation of new backoffice software, onboarding employees, and remerchandising. • He completed the NACS Kellogg School of Management course in 2016 and has served on several advisory boards for a variety of NACS programs. Razowsky is also a member of YPO Chicagoland and serves on the Ravinia Festival Associate Board as an executive committee member.

Amanda Shymanski Senior Category Manager QuickChek Corp. • Shymanski began her QuickChek career as an associate category manager, overseeing produce, dairy and milk. In 2012, she was promoted to

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• Shymanski has launched several foodservice snacks while growing the category by double-digits, coupled with growing QuickChek’s grab-and-go offer by creating new items and eye-catching packaging. On five different occasions, she has been awarded quarterly QuickChek awards, including Rookie of the Year and Marketing Team Member of the Year.

Benjamin Stein Regional Manager Coen Oil Co. • Stein began his c-store industry career in 2004 as a part-time cashier while pursuing degrees in psychology and business management. Through an internship with a large c-store operator, he got his first store management assignment in 2008 and never looked back, getting progressively larger assignments. Between 2014 and 2019, he acquired a vast level of multi-unit experience in c-stores and big-box retail. • Last year, Stein joined Coen Oil at the front end of its companywide rebranding, accepting the position of regional manager. He currently oversees all 56 stores across six districts in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. He regularly collaborates with all departments to improve operating procedures and fulfillment of the company’s mission and core principles. • Colin Dornish, senior director of operations at Coen, noted: “Ben is a top-notch leader who is constantly striving to bring those around him up to the next level, but it is his passion for our business that has clearly rubbed off on his team.”

Jack Walter Category Manager Kwik Trip Inc. • Walter spent five years with Kwik Trip, holding roles within its retail, production and operations divisions while attending college at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and marketing.

Congratulates CALEB HILL

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• After graduation, he took positions at companies outside of convenience retailing, which led him to recognize how special the industry and Kwik Trip’s model and culture is. He rejoined Kwik Trip as part of its category management team in 2017. • In his current role as category manager, Walter primarily focuses on manufacturer relationships and is responsible for developing and maintaining highly effective strategic alliances with suppliers. His current and past category responsibilities include non-alcoholic RTD beverages, fountain, automotive/seasonal, and perishable grocery.

Brittany Wilchar Operations Supervisor & Training Admin Lassus Bros. Oil Inc. • Wilchar’s career at Lassus Bros. started with a part-time position while she was attending college pursuing a nursing degree. She quickly recognized her passion for the business and advanced into a store management role within her first year at the company. Over the course of the next seven years, she managed multiple stores. • In 2014, Wilchar was offered a position in the company’s training department, where she led several major projects, including completely reinventing Lassus’ recruitment, retention and onboarding programs. • Three years later, Wilchar assumed her current role, while continuing to lead the company’s training and development initiatives. Last year, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in human resource management and looks forward to continuing to grow in leadership with Lassus Bros. CSN

Visit the Awards & Events section of csnews.com for information on the 2020 Convenience Store News Future Leaders in Convenience virtual awards ceremony.

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Global Game Changers International convenience stores provide innovative ideas to excite shoppers continue to adapt to stand out in a crowded landscape, and international convenience stores provide inspiration for both culinary and automation game-changing ideas to excite shoppers.

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International convenience markets have capitalized on simplifying the consumer experience with streamlined processes such as cashless checkout, delivery and easy-to-use apps, as well as food that drives traffic to the stores. According to Datassential’s International Concepts: C-Stores report, 42 percent of U.S. consumers think about hot food bar/ ready-to-eat foods when asked about international convenience stores.

Look Toward International Global flavors and formats are not out of bounds for convenience channel shoppers. In fact, consumers who shop at 7-Eleven are more likely to love Asian-inspired products like mochi, milk tea and yakisoba, according to Datassential’s FLAVOR database. Internationally, c-stores are a popular attraction for many tourists as they explore a new city. Japan has more than 40,000 convenience stores, and they go above and beyond to appeal to shoppers with unique twists on local foods. Lawson is a c-store leader in Japan with an expansive food selection that includes traditional and over-the-top dishes like kaarage, katsu sando, and dozens of onigiri. This wide range of portable grab-and-go items makes Lawson a worthy competitor of restaurants. Lawson has pushed its concept even further by creating Natural Lawson, a subset of the Lawson c-store chain that caters to lifestyle-based eating with a variety of gluten-free, organic, allergy-friendly and vegan options.

Automation & Delivery In China, Moby Mart cornered the market with its 24-hour mobile store that is a self-driving vehicle fully stocked with ready-made food, groceries and coffee. In 2018, Moby Mart launched a roaming, automated store in Shanghai where consumers were already used to paying via mobile. This cashless operation doesn’t have cashiers; instead, subscribers scan their products off the shelf, pay via phone app, and leave — it’s just that simple. Moby Mart plans to make its delivery service even easier in the near future by using a fleet of microdrones for door-to-door deliveries, along with artificial intelligence and sustainable solar-powered generators. CSN

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


Tobacco’s Rising Star The oral nicotine segment is advancing in both sales and category importance By Renée M. Covino THE ONLY THING not rising around oral nicotine these days is smoke.

The smokeless tobacco segment — otherwise known as modern oral products (MOPs), consisting primarily of pouches, tablets, gum and lozenges — is advancing in both sales and category importance, with considerable industry support. During Convenience Store News’ recent virtual Retailer Roundtable that analyzed the latest tobacco category data from exclusive retailer and consumer research studies, followed by an open discussion on the top challenges and opportunities in the tobacco business today, Don Burke, senior vice president of Management Science Associates, called modern oral “the real star in the tobacco market right now.” The segment saw a dramatic increase of 178 percent in dollars during the 52 weeks ended June 13, he cited, with Swedish Match holding nearly 90 percent of the segment’s dollar share due to an increase in sales of its ZYN oral nicotine products. “Modern oral products can be consumed while wearing a mask, so even this segment is benefitting from COVID-19,” Burke noted. Tobacco industry analysts attribute the overall increase in smokeless tobacco in convenience stores to the innovation that’s happening in oral nicotine products, which they say is being driven by recent attention from the big tobacco companies.

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“As times change, adult nicotine preferences also shift,” said Brittany Lockard, senior manager, Brand & Innovation Communications, for RAI Services Co., a division of Reynolds American Inc. “In light of restrictions on where certain tobacco products can be consumed, some adult smokers are looking for smoke-free alternatives, and some adult dippers are looking for spit-free alternatives. More than 70 percent of adult tobacco consumers in the U.S. have expressed interest in modern oral products.” RAI subsidiary R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. offers the VELO brand of nicotine pouches and lozenges. The line includes different flavors, styles and strengths. VELO nicotine lozenges were honored in CSNews’ 2020 Best New Products Awards competition. Oral nicotine is also part of Altria Group Inc.’s 10-year journey to a noncombustible tobacco future. Altria entered the oral nicotine space in mid-2019 by acquiring an 80-percent stake in certain companies of Burger Söhne Holding AG that are engaged in the commercialization of on! oral nicotine pouches. Available in seven flavors and five nicotine levels, on! pouches were being sold in more than 40,000 stores at the end of the second quarter of 2020, up 43 percent from first-quarter levels, according to Zacks Equity Research. “On! nicotine pouches are a key part of our vision to responsibly lead the transition of adult smokers to a non-combustible future,” said Paige Magness, senior vice president of regulatory affairs for Altria Client Services. Swedish Match, meanwhile, has been reporting “extraordinary” volume growth for its ZYN nicotine pouches since rolling out the product nationally last year; it initially launched in the Western region of the U.S. By the end of 2019, ZYN was available in more than 67,000 stores. Shipments


amounted to 50.4 million cans for the year, up from 12.7 million cans in the prior year, according to the company. In its Half-Year Report, which was released in July and covers January through June of this year, Swedish Match said: “ZYN continued to deliver strong volume growth contributing to higher sales and operating profit.” Given the success of the product, Swedish Match plans to continue investing significant resources into its U.S. production capacity of ZYN. By early 2021, it is slated to double its current U.S.-based manufacturing capacity to more than 150 million cans annually. And further expansion plans, slated to be completed in 2022, will increase annualized installed capacity to more than 200 million cans.

convenience stores will have to provide smokers with a full range of products from traditional dip and chew to modern nicotine pouches, and from e-cigarettes and vape products to heat-not-burn. While the oral nicotine segment is already on an upswing, Sting Free AB believes its new technology could expand the market considerably. The U.S. Patent Office granted the company a patent for its technology that is intended to make snus and other nicotine pouch products more accessible to adult consumers by eliminating the stinging sensation commonly associated with their use. The technology will also allow manufacturers to enhance flavors, pH levels and nicotine release profiles. The stinging sensation is often cited as the No. 1 deterrent for new users of oral nicotine products, according to the company. Sting Free AB says it currently has a nonexclusive licensing agreement with Swedish Match, and pre-licensing agreements in place with several other manufacturers of snus and nicotine pouch products.

Smoke-Free Future

Retail Redo

“There is no doubt that cigarettes will be replaced by smoke-free tobacco, but the pace and slope of the former’s inevitable decline are uncertain. No single smokefree product will be sufficient,” according to Brad Rodu, professor of medicine and endowed chair of Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville.

Greenville, S.C.-based convenience store operator The Spinx Co. recently made a conscious decision to highlight modern oral nicotine and create a designated space that makes it easier for adult tobacco customers to see the different options for oral tobacco-derived nicotine (TDN) products within its innovative tobacco products selection.

Last year, Rodu and his colleagues were the first professionals to publish an article on an oral nicotine product (ZYN) in medical literature, after being granted full access by Swedish Match to survey data in order to produce an independent analysis. The study was the first to assess the interest in and actual usage of nicotine pouches. When offered a variety of reasons for using ZYN, study participants frequently chose options such as “less harmful,” “no one can tell when using” and “to avoid spitting,” according to Rodu. Among current smokers, the top answers were: “less harmful for my health than cigarettes” and “do not cause me to smell like smoke/tobacco.” The study revealed that while nearly 90 percent of never and former tobacco users did not find ZYN to be appealing, one-third of current smokers, more than half of current smokeless tobacco users and two-thirds of dual cigarette/smokeless tobacco users did. As Rodu sees it, all of this adds up to a rapidly changing retail scenario where

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

“We wanted to make it easy for [customers] to realize that this is a different segment of products on our fixture,” Chris Dillard, Spinx’s category manager for tobacco, shared during CSNews’ Retailer Roundtable. “I think customers are starting to be more aware of the nicotine alternatives, or TDN products. We’ve seen some pretty significant gains in that space. Spinx has chosen to carry multiple TDN options based on industry research and projections and test market analytics, Dillard explained. “We wanted to better be able to meet the individual customer needs,” he added. “We are seeing a lot of trial in that segment without a lot of cannibalization; it really is a lot of poly-users. We are not seeing a lot of people migrate from smokeless over to TDN. It’s more of smokeless in addition to TDN.” More c-store customers are learning about modern oral nicotine products and being made aware of their availability through social media channels, according to RAI’s Lockard. “VELO is on Facebook and Instagram and these channels give us the opportunity to meet adult nicotine consumers where they are at, and to provide content they’re looking for while staying true to our commitment to responsible marketing to age 21-plus nicotine consumers.” Together with vapor, modern oral nicotine is viewed as the future of nicotine, with exciting opportunities and innovation on the horizon, Lockard concluded. CSN

NOVEMBER 16-18, 2020






Cheers for Beer Performing well during the pandemic, the category’s momentum is expected to continue By Renée M. Covino EVEN IN THIS TOPSY-TURVY world, beer is upright. While the 2020 Convenience Store News Midyear Report Card showed most in-store product categories were negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic during the first six months of this year, beer was one of the few exceptions. The category exhibited the greatest percentage dollar growth (12 percent) in the first half.

Why does beer appear to be COVID-proof for the convenience channel? What is it about the category that has it performing so well so far this year? The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), based in Alexandria, Va., recently made note that with most of the 400,000 on-premise venues like bars and restaurants shut down for months, the roughly 240,000 off-premise grocery, convenience and liquor stores remained open for beer consumers and, thus, saw an impressive sales boom. “Halfway through the year, scan sales data shows that off-premise beer sales are up an impressive 15 percent on dollar sales and 12 percent on volumes,” the NBWA reported in a blog. Whether for pantry-loading or enjoyment at home, the association noted that the sales at off-premise accounts were up considerably. As most of the United States remains on lockdown, the convenience store is the perfect, quick, in-and-out destination, Marat Yeshchin, category manager at Loop Neighborhood Market, told CSNews. Loop operates more than 30 c-stores in California. “It is apparent that consumers do not want to be in confined spaces or near others. Grocery stores have many shoppers and long lines; we do not,” Yeshchin said. “As winter approaches, restaurants will struggle to seat customers outside. People will stay home, consuming alcohol. We fully expect the momentum to continue.” From a supplier perspective, Sara Hillstrom, senior director of category development at Anheuser-Busch, cited that beer has always been a trip driver for convenience stores, and “we continue to see this today with beer averaging 10.8 trips per buyer in the first half of the year and outpacing total edible trips by nearly three trips per buyer.”

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Anheuser-Busch hasn’t seen any signs of beer category growth slowing down for the convenience channel. “Various parts of the country are in different phases of opening, but daily routines and behaviors are not yet at pre-pandemic levels,” Hillstrom said. “As such, the buying behaviors have continued, and are likely to continue, while this is the case.” She pointed out that beer has historically delivered growth even in uncertain times. “In 2008, the beer category grew 3 percent despite the overall consumer packaged goods decline of negative 2 percent,” she said, citing The Great Recession. Industry insiders believe the following seven factors will keep the momentum going:

1. Cheers to Health & Wellness Health and wellness, along with flavor and premiumization, are at the front end of beer trends, according to Hillstrom. Low-calorie beer brands are a must now if c-stores are going to meet the demands of today’s consumers who are seeking lighter carbs and fewer calories, but more premium flavor, she said. Yeshchin notes that these trends also apply to the younger demographic. “Millennials and Gen Zs are no longer chugging Bud Light and Coors Light; they, too, are trading up for a less bloating, more tasty choice,” he said.

2. Cheers to Core & Value Brands At the same time, there has been growth in core and value brands, which represent 50 percent of the category’s sales, according to Hillstrom. The NBWA acknowledges that a sizeable segment of consumers has shifted from experimenting with new brands to purchasing the brands they already know and trust. Long-time brands have had a resurgence in sales growth, the association stated. Along with this, there seems to be a “bigger is better” mentality when it comes to purchases for at-home consumption. As shopping trips have shifted to be more focused on stocking up, there has been a significant increase in velocity on larger packs, Hillstrom said. The NBWA confirms that consumers have shown strong interest in larger pack sizes, with doubledigit sales growth among 30-packs and 24-packs.

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3. Cheers to New Consumption Patterns New consumption patterns are being formed around new in-home drinking occasions such as relax-alone moments, video gaming, virtual socializing and meals, according to Ramona Giderof, vice president of sales, small format, for Anheuser-Busch. She suggests c-store retailers align their beer merchandising with these new moments. “Having displays and relax/meals communication in-store is critical to drive conversion,” Giderof said, adding that retailers can take their cue from beer brand messaging. At this time when brands are pivoting their messaging around social responsibility in response to the pandemic, they are also leaning into sports platforms to provide unique experiences. “You have to find a way to be relevant to today’s consumers,” she said. Most at-home beer marketing and merchandising initiatives are coming from sporting events and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, Yeshchin observed. “Thank god there are still sports,” he said, noting that Anheuser-Busch is sponsoring the NBA, while Molson Coors has a football commercial telling consumers that “as long as you are drinking a Coors Light, it does not matter who is playing.” These advertisements, seen on social media platforms while consumers are scrolling through their feeds, have been good for at-home beer sales, according to the category manager.

4. Cheers to Loyalty Apps & Delivery Another successful beer strategy undertaken by convenience retailers is to offer competitive category pricing through loyalty apps. Some are also partnering with third-party delivery services. “While some beer consumers are trading up, there are those still looking for a bargain. They’re still looking for a deal, whether in-store, via an app, or through convenient, hassle-free delivery,” Yeshchin said. Loop is staying competitive in the market by offering a large assortment of trending beer packages, Loop Loyalty benefits via its app, and easy delivery options with DoorDash and Uber Eats.

5. Cheers to Mexican Imports One of the most considerable boosts in beer sales for Loop this year has come from multipack SKUs, especially Mexican import brands. “As Mexican beer manufacturers, such as Modelo and Corona, shut down production, demand skyrocketed,” Yeshchin told CSNews. With such high demand, Loop is struggling to maintain adequate inventory levels. “We will place an order for 40 cases of Modelo 12-pack cans and we will get 15 cases,” he said. “We are not seeing dying trends; we see the opposite.” According to the NBWA, although breweries in the U.S. were declared essential when businesses shut down, the same could not be said for breweries across the border. In Mexico, breweries were declared nonessential, forcing beer production to halt during the months of April and May; they were able to reopen June 1. Time will tell if they can remain open, but demand is expected to remain high for Mexican imports.

6. Cheers to an Omnichannel Experience Technology is playing a larger role than ever before in enabling consumers to purchase beer and alcohol without leaving their homes. On Drizly, an alcohol e-commerce platform operating in more 100 markets across the United States and Canada, consumers can order directly from local retailers through a mobile app or website. They can browse the local inventory across multiple liquor stores and c-stores. Forward-thinking convenience chains are thus ensuring they are optimized for omnichannel sales. “For c-store retailers, this allows them to not only deliver that convenient experience and to ensure they’re top of mind when their customers are researching the category, but also to expand their footprint and reach even more customers than today,” said Liz Paquette, head of Drizly’s Consumer Insights. “We know for many of our partners, e-commerce was a critical lifeline, particularly in the early days of the pandemic. Many of them grew their business exponentially.” This diversification strategy is essential for retailers in today’s climate, she added.

7. Cheers to Educated Messaging Retailers that decide to combine their in-store experience with an online one are recognizing the importance of educating consumers with specific product details online. “From a merchandising perspective, the most basic yet critical step is to ensure that your inventory is accurate and that you’ve got good content on your product page to help guide the customer to purchase,” Paquette explained. She suggests adding a description about the product that explains the style or the brewing process. “We know our customers want to be more educated about what they’re purchasing.”

Follow the Online Stars Drizly, an alcohol e-commerce platform that operates in more than 100 markets across the United States and Canada and is known as “the Amazon for liquor,” allows users to order directly from local retailers through a mobile app or website. Convenience store operators would be wise to keep abreast of the platform’s top-selling beers as of late: 1. Bud Light 2. Coors Light Lager Beer 3. Miller Lite Lager Beer 4. Corona Extra 5. Michelob Ultra 6. Stella Artois 7. Modelo Especial 8. Budweiser 9. Corona Light 10. Lagunitas IPA 11. Bud Light Seltzer Variety Pack 12. Heineken Lager 13. Blue Moon Belgian White Wheat Beer 14. Guinness Draught

Up-and-comers should be on convenience retailers’ radars, too. Drizly’s five fastest-growing beer brands are from: Mighty Squirrel Brewing Co. in Massachusetts, Sloop Brewing Co. in New York, Offshoot Beer Co. in California, Schilling Cider in Washington, and Pizza Port Brewing Co. in California. Likewise, it’s important to tap into regional trends. “At the market level, local beer brands often hold significant share among the top sellers in their region,” according to Liz Paquette, head of Drizly’s Consumer Insights. For example, in Denver, Odell Brewing Co. and Upslope Brewing are among the top 10 best-selling brands on Drizly; while in New York City, Sixpoint Brewery, Montauk Brewing Co. and Brooklyn Brewery are top sellers; and in San Francisco, Fort Point Beer Co. and Golden State Cider are among the best sellers.

Additionally, retailers should keep in mind external factors like the weather, the season, who they are shopping for, what else they like to drink, etc. “Those who play into these from a messaging and merchandising perspective stand to win,” she said. CSN

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Forward-Thinking on the Forecourt Innovation is just as important at the pump as it is inside the store By Melissa Kress CONSIDERING THAT 80 PERCENT of

retail fuel sales in the United States flow through the convenience channel, what happens on the forecourt is just as important as what happens inside the store. As the country continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the same trends consumers are calling for when they step inside a store are the same they expect when filling up.

The actual opportunity lies in what you do with these technologies."

"Convenience stores are having a moment. With COVID-19 creating demand for convenient engagements that keep consumers safe, c-stores have the right to win market share from other retailers that aren't as flexible and efficient for customers," said Mike Welsh, chief creative officer at Mobiquity, a Waltham, Mass.-based digital consulting firm.

"Imagine what would happen if, after the customer initiates the mobile app for contactless fueling, she's offered a reward for simply using the app. There's an opportunity to sell,” Welsh pointed out. “Then, while she's waiting, she gets another notification asking if she wants to save this transaction to her favorites so that she can re-select this option the next time she stops to fuel up, making her next visit even easier.”

"We're seeing an influx of requests for contactless experiences on the forecourt — with everything from mobile payment to curbside pickup and touchless fueling trending. That's because customers have expectations about experiences and those expectations have been heightened since COVID19 hit," he added. Customers also want retailers to offer relevant rewards and promotions to make their engagement all the more meaningful. "Using intelligent technology allows c-stores to anticipate what customers want and make magic happen with an experience that is more contextual, experiential and situational for the customer," Welsh explained. It may not be enough, however, just to move ahead with technology innovation for the sake of technology. Despite what one baseball movie led us to believe, just because you build it doesn't mean customers will come. "Much of what is being created today is table stakes,” Welsh said. “Customers now expect technology such as curbside and contactless payment.

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For example, if a customer uses her smartphone as a remote control to initiate and pay for contactless fueling, there are about three to five minutes where she is sitting in her car waiting for the pump to complete the transaction.

And the engagement does not have to end when the customer's tank is full, either. "At the end of her fuel-up, the customer gets a thank you notification and an inquiry asking if she wants to donate to a community cause. You can see how, at every moment throughout the fuel-up experience, you can make the customer's engagement more impactful — all in a matter of minutes," he continued. "Expanding the fueling experience is the greatest opportunity for true c-store innovators." One common offer at the forecourt is pay at the pump, with several leading c-store retailers now extending this service to mobile pay. According to Welsh, both traditional pay at the pump and mobile pay provide conveniences to the customer and benefits to the business. "Convenience to the customer is all about putting control back in their hands,” he said. “They don't need to talk to a person or even press a button on a pump to pay for their fuel. Everything can be done — literally — from the device in their hand."

With mobile pay, customers can earn rewards with each purchase because they used the app, encouraging them to come back. Meanwhile, retailers can leverage the consumer insights gained from those mobile-app transactions.

Message Alert

more receptive to what retailers want to tell them at the pump, according to Nolan.

Attention Fuel Customers Detroit-based GSTV is well versed in reaching consumers at the pump and understands the importance of grabbing their attention when they stop for gas.

With the rise of payment options at the pump, there is concern that motorists may not have a reason to enter the c-store — and spend more money — unless c-store operators give them one.

"A fuel transaction is one of those rare moments in our busy lives when advertisers can reach attentive consumers outside the home with video messaging, and it's right next to a point of sale," said Eric Sherman, senior vice president, Insights & Analytics, at GSTV.

"There are two key technology pieces going on at the forecourt: messaging and marketing at the pump, and outdoor LED signs,” said Bill Nolan, partner at Phoenix-based Business Accelerator Team. “Both of those elements are becoming extremely popular, and most of it is becoming even more popular because of all the messaging that has to do with loyalty."

Citing research that the company conducted with a major credit card network, Sherman noted that consumers spend three to four times more across numerous categories immediately following a fuel transaction than consumers who hadn't just filled up.

According to Nolan, LED on the pole sign is an incredible, valuable marketing resource to reach the consumer. In his c-store experience, conveying product, price or promotional messages through LED leads to a return on investment inside the store. "If you have a store that is on a street with a couple of thousand cars driving by a day and you get the attention of 20 percent or 30 percent of those people who are convenience store users, you are getting a significant amount of brand awareness and pricing awareness," he said. When it comes to relevant messaging on the pole sign, Nolan recommends conveying what consumers want to know, not necessarily what they need to know. Messaging at the pump, on the other hand, "is such an interesting animal," he said. Because not every customer is looking to be spoken to and sold something at the pump, a retailer should make sure their messaging at the pump helps the process of purchasing gas, which Nolan pointed out “is not necessarily the happiest thing you do during the day." Having a clean and welcoming environment will also go a long way in receptivity. If the pay-at-the-pump transaction is seamless, the customer will be

With pay at the pump, consumers become attuned to filling up and leaving. However, messaging at the pump is one way to change that behavior and create more consistent and frequent visits inside the store by making the consumer aware of the offerings that are available inside, according to Dan Trotzer, executive vice president, Industry, at GSTV. "It's having a direct impact but also a long-term impact of increasing regular foot traffic from dispenser to store even beyond a singular purchase — getting that behavior back to a consistent pump and in-store visit in one session," Trotzer explained. While grabbing their attention is important, clarity and relevance of the message is just as vital. "One of the things that has been really effective is using this engaging point in time to introduce customers to new products that they may not associate with a c-store," he said. "This is a trend we are seeing across the industry as more c-stores are looking to expand their products to include fresh foodservice offerings, more healthy options, things that are going to appeal to an additional set of consumers that maybe don't come into a c-store on a regular basis."

Fueling Innovation These days, many convenience channel players are thinking outside the norm when it comes to the forecourt and ExxonMobil is among them. Over the past two years, the Spring, Texas-based company has upped the ante in connecting with its customers through technology. Notably, it launched the ExxonMobil Rewards loyalty program in mid-2018. The platform allows members to earn points The navigation app Waze whether they shop at the car wash, the automatically displays a prompt backcourt or the forecourt — and then for contactless payment redeem those points at the car wash, backthrough the Exxon Mobil Rewards+ app upon arrival court or forecourt, instead of just on fuel. at a participating station. NOVE MB E R

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At the end of 2019, ExxonMobil refreshed its mobile app and combined loyalty and payment into a single platform. It was relabeled from Speedpass+ to the ExxonMobil Rewards platform, and now has payment functionality, loyalty functionality and promotional functionality.

ExxonMobil has teamed up with Amazon and Fiserv to deliver voice-enabled payment at more than 11,500 Exxon and Mobil locations.

More than 40 percent of the points that have been redeemed were redeemed in the backcourt, according to Eric Carmichael, Americas retail marketing manager for ExxonMobil. In addition, ExxonMobil rolled out enrollment at the pump, allowing customers to join the loyalty program by entering their phone number into the dispenser. "We tried to make it easier and easier to sign up for our program," Carmichael noted.

"It's a great consumer experience,” Carmichael said. “You don't have to pull your credit card out, and our [branded wholesalers] love it because many of them can load their own individualized promotions — whether it is a coffee promotion or a two-for-one soda promotion — into the promotional functionality that the consumer sees." Early next year, the company plans to launch rollback at the dispenser, so consumers will see their fuel discounts in real time instead of having to wait for their monthly statement. Other recent innovations on the forecourt include ExxonMobil's partnership with Waze, in which the navigation app automatically displays a prompt for contactless payment through the Exxon Mobil Rewards+ app upon arrival at a participating station. And most recently, ExxonMobil teamed up with Amazon and Fiserv to deliver voiceenabled payment at more than 11,500 Exxon and Mobil locations. The "Alexa Pay for Gas" feature went live Sept. 1.

On the Horizon As Mobiquity’s Welsh sees it, the forecourt holds so much potential. With the current demand for technologies that





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enable curbside and contactless, the convenience channel will see the physical forecourt structure begin to change, he said, noting that c-store executives can look to their competitors for a glimpse into the future.

With many convenience retailers in the process of implementing EMV upgrades on the forecourt, now may be an ideal time to install the most relevant technology, but c-store operators still must balance their needs with the latest in retail technology.

"If you look at what companies like Burger King are planning with the introduction of triple drive-thrus, walk-up windows and dedicated curbside parking spots, you have a strong indicator that these 'new normal' technologies are here to stay,” he said. “Consumers will start to forget what pre-COVID experiences were and question why we never had this new type of convenience before."

"There is a very good reason for your pumps to be as updated as possible, but … there comes a time when you ask how much money you are spending on technology and what is the return on investment," Nolan said. "For me, this is becoming a real relevant question."

Pointing to technologies such as geolocation and beacons, Nolan said he wouldn't be surprised if, in the future, retailers know each specific customer and can talk to them personally based on their purchasing history inside the store. "The bigger marketing piece is going to be in the future: They know where you are, they know you are at their location, and they talk to you individually about something you purchased in the past month," he explained.

While some c-store retailers may be looking only as far as the six months down the road when the outdoor EMV compliance deadline hits in mid-April 2021, other operators may be looking even further down the road — and that could be an entirely different landscape. "If we fast forward to 10 years from now, I predict the forecourt will be made up of fast, solar-powered charging stations for electric cars with a few fuel pumps available to support the remaining hybrid cars," Welsh added. "And if more workplaces transition to remote work, c-stores may even become alternate workspaces for people. Customers can charge their cars while they order a coffee delivered to them with a contactless device; choose a snack using a smart, self-aware vending machine; and catch up on work using the WiFi — moving the experience from a matter of minutes to a matter of hours." CSN

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Female CEOs: More Is Not Enough Firsts and broken records are to be celebrated, but there’s still more road to travel WHEN I HEARD the news that Citigroup had become the first major financial institution in the U.S. to name a woman, Jane Fraser, as its CEO, I was thrilled. These “firsts” — the women who are first through the door of the top office in their industry — are always a cause for celebration.

By Sarah Alter President & CEO Network of Executive Women

At NEW, our mission dictates that Advancing All Women, our mission, is just good business. The facts of this have been proven time and time again. Yet the very fact that there are still barriers to be broken — that there are still “firsts” to be had for women in the C-suite — goes to show how much work there still is to do.

A Record-Breaking 38 When the Fortune 500 was announced earlier this year, it came with a celebrated number: 37, the most female CEOs ever on the list. In 2018, that number was just

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24. Clorox, which recently named Linda Rendle as its new CEO, has brought that exciting total up to 38. That this number continues to rise is a testament to the women and men who have worked tirelessly to ensure that women share an equal opportunity to rise to the top. Yet we can’t ignore the fact that this record-breaking number is still just 7.6 percent of the companies that make up that 500. Compare that to the 49.584 percent of our world which is female, and the problem becomes blatantly apparent. While we’re talking about an obvious disparity, where are the women of color on this list? There were just three when the list was announced in May, a shocking 0.6 percent of the total CEOs on the list. There are only four Black CEOs on the list,

Support women in your workplace, and resist the urge to call “done” on decades of discrimination when a record is broken. and all four are men. The U.S. is predicted to become “minority white” by 2045, making this gap all the more stark.

Accelerating the Rate of Change Seeing the number of female CEOs continue to grow in this country is so encouraging, and it is a personal point of pride to be among that group of women. I’m particularly affected when one of our partner organizations appoints a female chief executive, as our partner Clif Bar & Co. did earlier this year when they brought Sally Grimes in to helm their organization. But looking at these numbers in context shows the work there is left to be done, particularly for women of color. What can you do? Start by committing yourself to surmounting this challenge, making a promise to yourself not to stop until the work is done. That alone is a very powerful thing, but that commitment must be followed by action.

Convenience Store News is pleased to continue this series of educational columns by the Network of Executive Women (NEW), coinciding with the annual CSNews Top Women in Convenience awards given out each fall. Fifty-two female managers, executives and directors who work in the convenience store industry were honored in our 2020 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. 2020 SPONSORS Founding & Presenting Sponsor:

Platinum Sponsors:

Gold Sponsors:

Support women in your workplace, and resist the urge to call “done” on decades of discrimination when a record is broken. Advocate for women of color, and ensure unconscious bias in our workplaces is challenged and demolished. Find men who can be allies to the cause. Celebrate the wins, but never willingly lean back. There is good news, however: for this fight, you’re in the best of company. CSN Sarah Alter is president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, a learning and leadership community representing 13,000 members in 22 regional groups in the United States and Canada. Learn more at newonline.org.

Silver Sponsor:

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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Upping the Ante Choice Market’s new flagship store is its first to offer both gas pumps and electric vehicle chargers, as well as a new digital user experience By Danielle Romano

At a Glance Choice Market Location: 2200 East Colfax Ave., Denver Size: 2,600 square feet Unique features: The first Choice store to offer both gas pumps and electric vehicle chargers; introduces a new digital user experience whereby customers can order via proprietary app or online for pickup or delivery; an expanded grocery offer including fresh seafood, an extensive beer selection, and a lot more home and health items; a full service, fully scratch kitchen operated by classically trained and experienced chefs

WHEN CHOICE MARKET came onto the convenience store scene in October 2017, it introduced the concept of a one-stop shop that combined the speed of a c-store with the product selection of a grocery store. Over the last three years, the small operator has tweaked its off-premise, grab-and-go model with the opening of each of its three Mile High City locations, upping the ante of physical and digital offers with every new location.

Situated at 2200 East Colfax Ave. in Denver’s Park City neighborhood, the latest Choice store (its banner name) represents a new flagship location for the retailer. This store is its first to offer both gas pumps and electric vehicle chargers, as well as a new digital user experience whereby customers can order via proprietary app or online for pickup or delivery. “We couldn’t be more excited to open our new one-of-a-kind flagship location. We believe that you shouldn’t have to choose between convenience, deliciousness and healthiness. At Choice, you can have it all,” said Mike Fogarty, Choice Market founder and CEO. “That’s why we utilize revolutionary technology in order to better serve our communities. Our new store not only provides multiple refueling options and eco-friendly delivery services, but also makes it easier for our customers to access high-quality, locally sourced food and craft drinks.

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“It’s our mission to make great food accessible to all, and we will continue to evolve in order to make it possible,” he continued. “We are thrilled to be open and look forward to becoming an integral part of the community.” With a strategic focus on attracting urban millennials, young families and college students, Choice Market captures this audience at its newest store. The location also provides an opportunity to attract Generation Z shoppers from the high school down the block. Clocking in at 24 miles long, Colfax Avenue sees 50,000 cars per day and is considered “the longest, wickedest street in America,” according to Fogarty. This made it the perfect spot for the retailer to add fuel pumps to its list of offers, thanks to zoning that could accommodate it. The new flagship store also offers supercharging stations for customers with electric cars. Going forward, Choice will provide this service wherever it has more real estate to utilize. “Colfax is a major thread in the fabric of urban Denver with lots of history,” Fogarty explained. “The right real estate option became available and we jumped at the opportunity to have our flagship location on this famous street and capture the residents who have made Denver their home.”

New Physical & Digital Offers The new flagship store — which opened in August — signified the kickoff of phase one of Choice Market’s digital transformation, designed to drive incremental visits. More than two years ago, the retailer began vetting suppliers, technology and platforms that could evolve with more features and functionality. After about nine months, Choice Market had in place a new mobile app, e-commerce website, in-store kiosks, a loyalty app, and a native delivery program to offer its customers. “We launched [phase one] as soon as we possibly could and, most importantly, we limited the number of changes that our customers had to learn in order to streamline their Choice experience. We wanted to flip a switch and launch all of these key features at once,” Fogarty told Convenience Store News. “As we continue to grow, we can add additional functionalities, but the foundation is set. We’re already getting a lot of great feedback from customers who appreciate the convenience and ease that it’s bringing to their experience.” Since Sept. 18, customers can use Choice’s mobile app or website to order any item from the retailer’s diverse product selection — including alcohol. They can shop the entire store by dietary lifestyle or recipes for contactless pickup or delivery. The omnichannel retailer has hired delivery drivers who use a fleet of electric cars and bikes to fulfill orders. With the launch of this new digital experience, customers will receive personalized offers based on their shopping history, and loyalty members will earn points that can be redeemed for free food and drinks. According to the CEO, with consumers cooking and spending more time at home given the current environment, Choice Market’s business model can grow in multiple ways based upon the needs of the neighborhood. To that end, the East Colfax Avenue store has a product selection that leans a little more into grocery, with offerings such as fresh seafood, an extensive beer selection, and a lot more home and health items. The 2,600-square-foot store also features a full-service, fully scratch kitchen that is operated by classically trained and experienced chefs who work to develop seasonal menus and elevated food for on-the-go consumption. Embracing its Colorado pride, Choice Market works with local farmers to source the majority of its ingredients and products, including organic produce and antibiotic-free and nitrate-free proteins.

The Five-Year Plan Choice Market has big plans for growth. Its five-year business plan calls for roughly 30 Choice stores to be in operation across three or four markets — namely in Texas, California and the Pacific Northwest. Fogarty said he is focusing on choosing lower-risk options vs. traditional real estate transactions.

Customers can use Choice’s mobile app or website to order any in-store item, including alcohol, for contactless pickup or delivery. Drivers use a fleet of electric cars and bikes to fulfill delivery orders.

The retailer also plans to continue growing in the Denver market. A fourth Choice store is currently in the works in the Golden Triangle area of the city. This store will open on the ground floor of the Parq on Speer apartment building. Expected to debut in November or December, this location will usher in phase two of the retailer’s digital transformation. The store will feature frictionless technology whereby customers can download an app, enter their payment information, scan the app to enter the store, and then just walk out when they’re done shopping. Ceiling cameras and shelf sensors will determine what customers selected to buy and, moments later, an e-receipt will appear on their phone. “We want our guests to have the best possible customer experience. Anytime you’re interacting with Choice, you’ll be able to differentiate us from the competitors,” Fogarty told CSNews. “We’re building the architecture to scale this to multiple formats and stores — anything from a vending machine to a minimarket to a 4,000-square-foot location. All of them will be using the same underlying technology and platform. It’s not as much about taking labor out the equation; it’s more about becoming more efficient and leveraging technology. “We do have different formats and channels, but our goal is to leverage them to increase basket price, number of transactions, and higher revenue per foot per store,” he added. CSN NOVE MBE R

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Air Vacs


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2 0 2 0 Convenience Store News


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Covid 19 Cleaning Product

Foodservice Specialties


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Convenience Store News


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General Merchandise


Age Verifier

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Equipment / Supplies

Wholesale Refrigeration

Check Guarantee Services


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Convenience Store News


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ADINDEX Altria Group Distribution..........2

Neptune Retail Solutions.........7

Cafe Agave....................................59


CB Distributors Inc.....................17

Premier Manufacturing.............39

Forte Products.............................65

Procter & Gamble........................19

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health Care..............32–33

Reynolds American

Goya Foods Inc............................23 Hunt Brothers Pizza LLC..........27 Jack Link’s Beef Jerky...............29 Krispy Krunchy Chicken...........53 Liggett Vector Brands...............37 Living Essentials LLC.................5 Mars Wrigley Confectionery...13 McLane Company.......................88 Mondelez International.............15

Trade Marketing........................... 21, 35, 45, 55 Rutter’s............................................47 Strasglobal.....................................49 Swedish Match North America LLC.....................41 Swisher International Inc.......... .........................................................Front Cover, .........................................................9, 10–11, 51 Universal Merchants...................Outsert VOSS Water...................................25

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5/22/20 10:07 PM


COVID Contrasts A look at how male and female c-store shoppers are responding to the pandemic With more than 152,000 locations across the United States, more people visit a convenience store each day than any other brick-and-mortar retail outlet. In fact, industry research has shown that on average, half of the U.S. population was buying something at a c-store every day before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now that Americans’ daily lives have been upended by this highly contagious virus, it’s no surprise that the convenience channel is feeling the effects. A new, exclusive c-store shopper study conducted by Convenience Store News reveals some interesting differences in how male and female shoppers are pivoting amidst the pandemic.


17% 11% MORE





53% LESS

MEN are more likely than women to say they are shopping at convenience stores more today than before the pandemic. WOMEN are more likely to say they are shopping at c-stores about the same or less these days.



The NO. 1 cited reason by both genders is changes in their daily routine due to COVID-19.








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Significantly more male shoppers than females say they are now regularly or occasionally using delivery from a local convenience store:

44% of men vs. 27% of women

Caetlyn Roberts Giant Food

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McLANE’S TECHNOLOGY WILL POWER YOU FORWARD McLane understands the competitive advantage technology can provide, and we’ve made substantial investments in building technology solutions to address the specific needs of c-stores. Our hardware and software solutions help our customers improve order accuracy, reduce labor costs, optimize inventory and increase margins, just to name a few advantages. From the corporate office to the back office, McLane offers the technology solutions that help retailers buy better, sell smarter and profit more.

To learn more about McLane’s innovative technology solutions for c-stores, visit mclaneco.com/technology

© 2020 McLane Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

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