Page 1 | AUGUST 2021

PROOF OF AGE Secure, digital ID checks solve for friction and underage sales.



FUTURE DESIGN Consumers and technology influence store layout

Today, more than 20 million U.S. adult smokers are seeking potentially less harmful alternatives to cigarettes. We are committed to responsibly leading the transition of adult smokers to these alternatives. And to making sure that, even as the tobacco category changes, your retail success continues.


30 42 50 58 64 70

ech for Good T The new NACS TruAgeTM digital age-verification system is frictionless, secure and reliable. aking History M Convenience has had three waves. As NACS celebrates its 60th year, has the industry reached the fourth wave? e Got This W The NACS Show returns for a vibrant in-person experience in Chicago this October. he Storyteller T NACS Show speaker Kendal Netmaker draws on his indigenous roots to share his lessons in business success and resiliency. tudious Snacking S Retailers are ready with back-to-school promotions. trategy-Based Design S Technology, pickup/delivery and changing demographics are shaping convenience store design.


 @nacsonline    Subscribe to NACS Daily—an indispensable "quick read" of industry headlines and legislative and regulatory news from Washington, along with knowledge and resources from NACS, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. Subscribe at


AUGUST 2021 |



We partnered with local designers who helped us to push the envelope when it came to design.

We are seeing traditional immediate consumption occasions in sweet snacking rebound nicely.


IDEAS 2 GO, P. 26

08 From the Editor 12 NACS News 18 Good Work 20 Inside Washington

A dramatic increase in the federal tobacco tax will likely have the opposite effect of the bill’s intention; local fossil fuel bans: fantasy or foreshadowing the future?

82 Gas Station Gourmet

Old Snowmass Market is a gathering spot for authentic Mexican and European food and community.

84 Global Trends

Healthy options, sustainability and delivery are capturing customers worldwide.

90 Category Close-Up

Packaged sweet snacks are well-positioned for growth.

96 Back Page

26 Ideas 2 Go

Duchess updates a legacy brand to meet today’s convenience consumer.

76 Cool New Products 2

| AUGUST 2021

PLEASE RECYCLE THIS MAGAZINE The presence of an article in our magazine should not be permitted to constitute an expression of the association’s view. CONVENIENCE.ORG


PROFITS YOU CAN SEE Delivering monthly statements, and payments.

Learn more at: or call 800.776.8834



EDITORIAL Kim Stewart Editor-in-Chief (703) 518-4279

What’s top of mind in convenience? We’ll tell you. Download our weekly podcast today and gain access to industry knowledge and trends — all in 24 minutes or less! Tune in at

Sara Counihan Managing Editor (703) 518-4278 Lauren Brooks Digital Content Manager (703) 518-4283 CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Terri Allan, Sarah Hamaker, Al Hebert, Bruce Horovitz, Pat Pape, Renee Pas, Jerry Soverinsky DESIGN Beyond Definition



Examining the Conveniece Industry Forecast 2021 is shaping up to be a good year for c-store sales. NACS data will help inform critical decisions on the road ahead.

CHAIR: Kevin Smartt, Kwik Chek Food Stores OFFICERS: Lisa Dell’Alba, Square One Markets Inc.; Brian Hannasch, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.; Andy Jones, Sprint Food Stores Inc.; Ken Parent, Pilot Flying J LLC; Victor Paterno, Philippine Seven Corp. dba 7-Eleven Convenience Store; Don Rhoads, The Convenience Group LLC; Jared Scheeler, The Hub Convenience Stores Inc. PAST CHAIRMEN: Frank Gleeson, Aramark Northern Europe; Julie Jackowski, Casey’s General Stores Inc. MEMBERS: Chris Bambury, Bambury Inc.; Chris Coborn, Coborn’s Inc. Little Dukes; Joseph M. DePinto, 7-Eleven Inc.; Bhagdeep S. Dhaliwal, Dhaliwal & Associates Inc.; George Fournier, EG America LLC; Anne Gauthier, St. Romain Oil

Stacey Dodge Advertising Director/Southeast (703) 518-4211


Jennifer Nichols Leidich National Advertising Manager/ Northeast (703) 518-4276

CHAIRMAN-ELECT: Brent Cotten, The Hershey Company

Ted Asprooth National Sales Manager/ Midwest, West (703) 518-4277



PUBLISHING Erin Pressley Publisher and Vice President, Education & Media (703) 518-4208 Rose Johnson Audience Development and Production Manager (703) 518-4218

CHAIRMAN: Rick Brindle, Mondelēz International

Company LLC; Varish Goyal, Loop Neighborhood Markets; Christine Hogan, Wheels Convenience Stores; William B. Kent, The Kent Companies dba Kent Kwik Convenience Stores; Sydney Kimball, Shell International Petroleum Company Limited; Chuck Maggelet, Maverik Inc.; Ina (Missy) Matthews, Childers Oil Co.; Charles McIlvaine, Coen Markets Inc.; Lonnie McQuirter, 36 Lyn Refuel Station; Glenn M. Plumby, Speedway LLC; Robert Razowsky, Rmarts LLC; Richard Wood, Wawa Inc. SUPPLIER BOARD REPRESENTATIVES: Rick Brindle, Mondelēz International; Brent Cotten, The Hershey Company STAFF LIAISON: Henry Armour, NACS GENERAL COUNSEL: Doug Kantor, NACS

VICE CHAIRMEN: David Charles, Cash Depot; Kevin Farley, GSP; George Ubing, E&J Gallo Winery

Coca-Cola Company; TJ Lynch; Vito Maurici, McLane Company Inc.; Bryan Morrow, PepsiCo Inc.; Sharon Porter, Saputo USA LLC, dba Saputo Convenience; Lesley D. Saitta, Impact 21; John Thomas, iSEE Store Innovations LLC; Dean Zurliene, Monster Beverage Company

PAST CHAIRMEN: Kevin Martello, Keurig Dr Pepper; Brad McGuinness, Qopper Inc.; Drew Mize, PDI

RETAIL BOARD REPRESENTATIVES: Steve Loehr, Kwik Trip Inc.; Chuck Maggelet, Maverik Inc.

MEMBERS: Blake Benefiel, Altria Group Distribution Company; Alicia Cleary, Anheuser-Busch InBev; Tony Gaines, NVIP LLC; Mike Gilroy, Mars Wrigley; Josh Halpern, FIFCO USA; David Jeffco, Krispy Krunchy Foods LLC; Tim Knight; Kevin M. LeMoyne,


NACS Magazine (ISSN 1939-4780) is published monthly by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), Alexandria, Virginia, USA. Subscriptions are included in the dues paid by NACS member companies. Subscriptions are also available to employees of nonmember companies at a rate of $70 per year. Please add $15 for delivery outside the United States. Subscription requests: POSTMASTER: Send address changes to NACS Magazine, 1600 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314-2792 USA. Contents © 2021 by the National Association of Convenience Stores. Periodicals postage paid at Alexandria VA and additional mailing offices.

1600 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314-2792


Premier Manufacturing: Brands Built on Integrity Owned by a cooperative of proud American farmers using the best U.S.-grown tobacco blends among their competitors, Premier provides high-quality, value-priced cigarette brands for the adult consumer. C-stores across the country are buying in.

Commitment to Quality Premier Manufacturing, Inc. is the consumer products division of U.S. Tobacco Cooperative Inc. (USTC), an American grower-owned marketing cooperative based in Raleigh, NC.

500+ member farmers throughout the Southeast

Members maintain GAP Connections Trackable process includes all aspects of manufacturing under one roof Certification Standards Ensures sustainable, ethical agricultural practices Tobacco processing & stemmery Primary blending / Cigarette finishing

All products made in USA & 100% guaranteed

Robust Partnerships

A Cut Above the Rest

Premier’s support staff prides itself on meeting customer goals with seamless execution in achieving the highest regulatory standards.

Premier products use only top-end tobacco blends.

• Provides sales/service support across the U.S. • Develops POS materials for high visibility • Creates custom sales & merchandising programs • Maintains strong relationships with top distributors

• Partners with top national and regional retail chains

The finest flue-cured tobacco in the world • All U.S. grown • Environmentally sustainable • Compliant with every regulation The best blend among competitors • Highest concentration of flue-cured tobacco • Vibrant color • Blends provide exceptional aroma and flavor experience Manufactured on industry-leading equipment • Laser perforation • Inked code dating • Latest high-tech advancements

Your Trusted Premier Brands Choose the brand that suits your loyal consumers. Each brand features a variety of styles to satisfy every taste. Contact PremierManufacturing today!



Have a Plan Convenience stores are beacons in their communities, providing much-needed food and fuel to first responders and residents before, during and after an emergency or disaster. Don’t be caught without a plan when the unexpected hits. NACS has resources to help convenience retailers create or enhance their disaster planning procedures. Developed alongside the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA experts, the resources can help convenience retailers boost their businesses’ resiliency as they plan, prepare and recover from disasters. The first step is to review the Convenience Store Emergency Planning and Job Evaluation report to develop or assess store emergency plans and procedures. The second resource, Convenience Store Emergency Job Aids, contains 20 individual documents that serve as checklists for every situation from assigning emergency coordinators to closing stores, opening stores and communicating with journalists, customers and employees. And don’t miss the NACS webinar on convenience store emergency planning. These resources and more can be found at


U.S. convenience stores conduct 165 million transactions per day, meaning that the industry serves half the population daily. The 2.5 million convenience store employees who interact with customers significantly influence how consumers perceive the industry. NACS research helps define consumer perceptions of convenience store jobs, the company-level programs that can enhance recruitment and retention and how companies can benchmark their operations with other organizations. NACS also has developed partnerships with world-class organizations that can help members focus on ensuring that their employees are their greatest asset. Visit to learn more. CONVENIENCE.ORG Trade/Govindanmarudhai

Employee Engagement

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Merchandising Kit Just for signing up, you’ll receive

a merchandising kit designed to help you sell more 5-hour ENERGY. ®


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Members have opportunities to win additional prizes through retailer specific sweepstakes.

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Salt y snac k sanitizer— s and hand a winning c om b o

's app on Wawa ie g a o h a side Order it up curb and pick

Better With Age

“A Kim Stewart Editor-In-Chief

As convenience retailers well know, checking IDs for age-restricted purchases is critical.


| AUGUST 2021

ge is just a number,” said British actress and author Joan Collins, “unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.” The older I get, the more I can relate. Some people look far younger than their actual age, such as Jennifer Nichols Leidich, our national advertising manager. Jennifer is one of those people who is perennially youthful, especially in her outlook on life (a hearty congratulations to Jennifer and her new hubby, Steve Leidich, who just tied the knot). Then there’s my 19-year-old son, Cameron, who could easily pass for 21. A few years ago, I took him to lunch at a restaurant known for craft beer. When the waiter asked my son if he’d like to sample a flight of beer, I snapped back, “He’s 15!” As convenience retailers well know, checking IDs for age-restricted purchases is critical, and there’s always room for human error. That’s why we’re so excited about a new digital age-verification solution called TruAge™, from NACS and Conexxus. Our cover story (see page 30) explains how this groundbreaking app and program integrates with existing point-of-sale systems to take the guesswork out of verifying age—while preserving consumer privacy, speeding the checkout process for age-restricted items and most importantly, preventing sales to would-be underage purchasers. Improving the customer experience is certainly in sharp focus as we turn the corner on the pandemic. In many cases,

e ls waiting on th Fresh-to-go mea en crowd at 7-Elev back-to-school

designers are reworking store layouts to accommodate this technology-forward age of digital orders, curbside pickup and delivery and a new cohort of c-store customers. Read how retailers are re-imagining their stores in “StrategyBased Design” on page 70. Speaking of new beginnings, NACS is celebrating its 60th anniversary this month! We were founded in 1961 in Kansas City, Missouri. As an homage to our 60th and all things convenience, Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives, weaved together a must-read on the three— nay, four—waves of convenience in “Making History” on page 42. This August, life is edging much closer to “normal” than this time last year, and many students are stepping back into the classroom for the first time in many months. C-stores are hoping for more foot traffic, and they’ll have the foods ready that busy families crave as we share in “Studious Snacking” on page 64. Speaking of snacks, in July’s cover story, “The Hot Sellers,” I goofed and paired Pringles with the wrong manufacturer. Apologies to Kellogg Company, which has owned the iconic brand since 2012. I can think of no better primer on brands in convenience retailing than the 2021 NACS Show, October 5–8, at McCormick Place in Chicago. See you soon, my friends!




ZYN 3 MG or ZYN 6 MG CALL 800 - 367 - 3677 OR CONTACT YOUR SWEDISH MATCH REPRESENTATIVE FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS *MSA NP Category Volume Recent 26 wks 4/11/21. For Trade Purposes Only. ©2021 Swedish Match North America LLC

Vitamin Energy®





IN YOY $SALES^ ^SOURCE: IRI Total U.S. 13 Week Data, Q2 2021


To order call 1-800-420-3106 or Independent stores order via Password: retail21

Energy, With Benefits™ Vitamin Energy® is growing the highly profitable shot category!



IN YOY $SALES^ ^SOURCE: IRI Total U.S. 13 Week Data, Q2 2021

For fastest sell through, we recommend a $2.99 SRP and EDLP "2 for $4" to gain trial for the first 12 months. To order call 1-800-420-3106 or Independent stores order via Password: retail21



n July 24, convenience retailers around the U.S. participated in the NACS 24/7 Day initiative, which recognizes first responders, medical personnel and American Red Cross volunteers who work around the clock, 24/7, serving our communities to ensure people don’t face emergencies alone. The annual event helps raise awareness and donations for the urgent humanitarian needs of the American Red Cross and spotlights our industry’s important role in supporting local heroes and the communities we serve. “We know that our operations are 24/7, but we often don’t talk about things beyond just the convenience that we provide,” said Stephanie Sikorski, NACS vice president of marketing and director of the NACS Foundation. “Thank goodness that our stores are the fabric of communities


| AUGUST 2021

and that we have 24/7 operations. Whether it’s a snowstorm or a hurricane or a wildfire, because our stores are across the U.S. and centralized to those communities, it means that first responders have parking lots to set up shop and water and access to gas to be able to get to those sometimes-remote communities to do what they do,” Sikorski said. In 2018, 24/7 Day launched with three retailers: Sheetz, Wawa and RaceTrac. In 2020, the program grew more than 500% with more than 18 different retailers participating across more than 20,000 store locations. “It’s amazing to be able to say thanks and recognize heroes across the U.S.,” Sikorski said. “I don’t know [any] other industry that has this [type of celebration] from an industry standpoint.” For more on 24/7 Day and how you can participate in future years, visit CONVENIENCE.ORG

Spotlighting Heroes

Storewide Merchandising Solutions





American Manufacturing Manufacturing

WonderBar Merchandiser ®

For coolers, freezers and center store

Pusher Hook and Display Hook Label & Sign Holder System

Auto-feed Tray System Clear Scan® AdjustaView ® Label System

Glass, Wood & Solid Shelf Label Holders

Glass, Wood & Solid Shelf Label Strips

Wire Basket & Wire Shelf Label Strips

Magnetic Pallet Rack Label Strips

Electronic Ticket Label Strips & Holders

Wire Basket & Wire Shelf Label Holders Flip Scan® Hooks, Label Holders & Signing Accessories

WonderBar Trays ®

More ways to boost productivity

Mini Tray

Made from U.S. steel and heavy-duty wire frames. n Multiple-Depths range from 13" to 24". n Adjustable-Widths adapt from 1 3/4" to 17 1/2". n

Radius or Square Tray Sidewalls

Dual Lane Tray

Standard Tray with Finger Product Stop

Tool-free installation. n Bar and shelf capable. n Auto feed any product. n

Oversize Double-Wide Tray

Standard Tray with Locking, Molded Pusher

Display Cheese & Salad Improve rotation and reduce shrinkage


WonderBar® Trays n Face more packages, accommodate a wider range of shapes and sizes, restock easily, and manage dated produce better.

Air baffles maintain product temperature & extend shelf life. n Durable cooler-capable steel construction ensures long life. n Trays lift out for rear restocking & proper rotation. n Versatile spring tension is gentle on delicate produce.

Showcase More Products Create exciting new cross sells with Dual Lane merchandising

WonderBar® Dual Lane Trays n


Fit many more items, sell families of products in different sizes and increase impulse buying with cross-sells and adjacencies. Asymmetrical lanes sell different-width products.


Each lane adjusts to fit products as small as 13/4" wide.


Unique design features a separate paddle to push each item forward individually in its own lane.

Cooler-Capable EWT

Expandable Wire Tray for refrigerated retail

Quick drop-on, one-piece installation. n Accommodates any style or size package adjusting from 33/8" to 171/2" lane width. n Various built-in mounting capabilities available based on shelf component. n

Molded pusher paddle available, both locking and non-locking styles with wire- or metal-sided trays. n Auto feed any product. n Clear or Imprinted Front Product Stops. n Vends oversize items like pizza. n

Display & Scan Hooks Hooks for every purpose

Right Angle Label Holder Hook

A simple, inexpensive design. n Use with Quick Back® to maximize product density, provide easy mounting and relocation of stocked hooks in tight places, under shelves or in fully loaded displays, and speed re-merchandising and display changeover. n

Economical All Wire Hook

Slatwall Hooks

Safer, rounded Ball-End Tips are available on all hooks at no extra charge and no minimum order. n Use the Peg Hook Overlay to quickly convert All Wire Hooks to Scan Hooks. n

Pouch Hook Merchandising ™

A new venue of product promotion

Pouch Hook™ Merchandising n Standard and Gravity-Feed options keep items forwarded and automatically faced. n


Tool-free installation on most common gondola and cooler uprights. Stocked in 4 lengths compatible with all standard shelf sizes allowing mixed use in display.

Flip-front Label Holder swings up for easy access and product removal.

Protect Your Merchandise Anti-theft security hooks

Scan Lock® Hooks n Easy-to-use, inexpensive key-lock system. n Prevent the removal of any stock or display 1 or 2 items unlocked to prevent sweeping. Anti-Sweep™ Hooks n Camel-back profile prevents sweeping while providing direct access for customers. n Flip Scan® Label Holder swings up and out of the way. n Use of plain-paper labels can save up to 65% on labels and up to 75% on labor.



Adjustable Merchandising Tray For dairy, freezer and center store

Adjustable width trays, designed for yogurts, ice cream, and other difficult to organize products. n Trays lift out with easy-grip handles to allow quick restocking or cleaning. n

Molded-in openings improve refrigeration air circulation. n Top-tier sidewall available for support and containment of tall or multi-tier products. n

Clear Scan Label Holders ®

The complete shelf edge labeling system

Easy-to-use design flexes open at a touch for fast, drop-in, plain-paper labeling, then automatically springs shut to secure the label in place. n Unsurpassed range of sizes, styles & lengths. n Labels shielded from dirt, spills, moisture & wear so they last longer, read easier & scan more accurately. n Long lasting PVC construction retains “memory” and shape, resists yellowing, darkening & aging. n

Choice of magnetic, adhesive or clip-on mounting systems.

Being Seen Means Being Sold






American Manufacturing Manufacturing

©2021 Trion Industries, Inc. 297 Laird St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702 Ph 570-824-1000  |  Fx 570-823-4080 Toll-Free in the U.S.A. 800-444-4665

Scan the QR code to purchase one or both reports.

Future-Informing Insights Don’t miss your opportunity to own the NACS State of the Industry Report of 2020 Data, the convenience and fuel retailing industry’s premier benchmarking tool and the most comprehensive collection of data and trends. Today’s dynamic landscape requires agility, a balance of efficiency and effectiveness that can free up resources and fuel new growth. Success requires knowing where you must invest in technology and how to harness data to deliver targeted, personalized offerings and customer experiences—it’s essential to winning trips and edging out the competition. This report is ideal for: • Convenience and fuel retailers: Stay one step ahead with data and analysis that saves you time and money. Get a behind-the-scenes look at aggregate competitor data in critical areas, including financials, store operations, merchandising, foodservice, fuels and more.

• S uppliers: Streamline research and development resources with the report’s targeted insights that will help you discover your next big product innovation or development opportunity. • Investors, real-estate developers, appraisers, management consultants: Find out why investment partners and consultants are getting behind the $650 billion dollar convenience industry and adding it to their investment portfolios. Get savvy quickly and accurately with industry overviews, industry financial performance data and market performance comparisons. In addition to the report, consider accessing critical data and up-to-date standards in the key human resource categories of compensation, turnover, benefits and recruitment. The NACS State of the Industry Compensation Report breaks down the latest numbers in the convenience industry and is considered an essential guide for HR and operations professionals.

MEMBER NEWS SUPPLIER Kretek International Inc. announced a series of senior management promotions. Jason Carignan, currently chief marketing officer of Kretek, will become president of Phillips & King International and TMG International. Additionally, Albert Jose, currently director of Kretek marketing, has been promoted to senior vice president of sales and marketing for Kretek. RETAILER Savannah, Ga.-based Parker’s has hired Katie Kerney to serve as chief people officer. In her new position, Kerney is responsible for the company’s culture as well as the overall safety, welfare and


Katie Kerney

success of Parker’s team members. In addition, John Rudolfs was hired as chief development officer and is responsible for the company’s growth and overall network development strategy. John Rudolfs KUDOS The Spinx Company was named one of the “Best Places to Work” in South Carolina. The Best Places to Work initiative is dedicated to identifying and recognizing South Carolina’s most innovative and topnotch employers. “We’re incredibly fortunate that our ownership, the Spinks family, has always put people first. Both within and outside of the business,” said Stan Storti, Spinx president.

AUGUST 2021 |



NEW NACS MEMBERS NACS welcomes the following companies that joined the association between May 15 and June 15, 2021. NACS membership is company-wide so we encourage employees of member companies to create a username by visiting Create-Login. All members receive access to the NACS Online Membership directory, latest industry news, information and resources. For more information about NACS membership, call (703) 684-3600.

NEW RETAIL MEMBERS HD Riverstop LLC Springfield, LA Ameripol dba Indian Shores Mart Indian Shores, FL Jill Jk Inc. dba Bells Food Mart Greenville, SC

Catania-Spagna Corp. dba Catania Oils Ayer, MA Elixir Distribution Long Beach, CA

Robberson Thib's LLC dba Thib's Longville, LA Wilkinson Development North Platte, NE


NEW SUPPLIER MEMBERS Alsco Inc. Salt Lake City, UT

BARE International Fairfax, VA

| AUGUST 2021

Main Street Bakery Holdings dba Biscotti Brothers Bakery Greensburg, PA Mighty Cake Compan LLC Chicago, IL

Spectrum Marketing Concepts Atlanta, GA Summit Naturals Inc. Orlando, FL

Mountain Waffle Co. King Of Prussia, PA

TakeOver Industries dba NXT LVL Hydrogen Water Cave Creek, AZ

Oregon Fruit Products Salem, OR

teaRIOT LLC dba RIOT Energy Marina Del Rey, CA

Passage Foods North America Columbia, TN

Vape Guys Inc. dba VGI Distribution Colonial Heights, VA

Goodman Food Products LLC dba Goodman Gluten Free Madison, CT

PFSbrands Holts Summit, MO

Vive Organic Venice, CA

Hawaiian Springs LLC Keaau, HI

PRG LLC dba MyRetailBuddy Overland Park, KS

White Rhino USA Draper, UT

Jeremiah's Italian Ice Orlando, FL

Retail Zipline San Francisco, CA

Leaf Brands LLC Newport Beach, CA

Sevan Downers Grove, IL

Louisiana Food Service Equipment Inc. dba The Kitchen Guys New Orleans, LA

Smart Safe Funding dba USA Inc. Bayville, NY

Freshly Squeezed Beachwood, OH

McFarland Oil Salida, CO


BettermentRS Lubbock, TX

GardaWorld Cash Services Boca Raton, FL

Lula Inc. Voorhees, NJ

Spectrum Industrial Products dba Mopit Logan, UT



You always win with in-demand natural leaf. Featuring high-quality blends and engaging experiences for our fans, Optimo from Swisher Sweets helps you step up your game with a winning combination of effortless demand and increased sales. Please contact your Swisher Representative, call 800.874.9720 or visit



Recovery Leaders and Laggards As COVID-19 safety protocols relax in the wake of increased vaccination rates, shoppers are returning to stores and hitting the road again. The opportunities for convenience retailers to capitalize on increased trips and frequency as old routines and new patterns of behavior emerge have never been more important. Knowing how convenience categories performed in the earliest days of the post-pandemic period and how they are leading and lagging overall retail provides important insight into the opportunities that lie ahead. NACS takes a look at the 13 weeks ended May 29, 2021, and how performance by subcategory compares with the year prior. This time period coincides with the start of shutdown orders that predominately began on March 13, 2020.

13 Weeks Ended May 29, 2021 Total U.S. Convenience

Total U.S. Convenience

Total U.S. xAOC*

Total U.S. xAOC*

Total U.S. Convenience

Total U.S. Convenience

$ Sales

$ Sales % Change vs. YA

$ Sales

$ Sales % Change vs. YA


Units % Change vs. YA

Premium Cigarettes







Energy Drinks







Carbonated Soft Drinks













Smokeless Tobacco







Branded Discount Cigarettes







Imported Beer














Flavored Malt Beverages














Sports Drinks







Chocolate Bars Packs








Premium Beer

Source: NielsenIQ


| AUGUST 2021

* x AOC stands for “Extended All Outlet Combined,” which covers Food/Grocery, Drug, Mass Merchandiser and Convenience products.



Ensuring No Kid Goes Hungry


um & Go is fighting childhood hunger and food insecurity in its home state of Iowa by partnering with No Kid Hungry. The Des Moines-based convenience retailer has teamed up with Midwest Dairy, BODYARMOR, KIND, LifeWtr and Essentia throughout the summer to raise $85,000 for No Kid Hungry and give back to the communities they serve. “Thirteen million children in the United States live in food insecure homes,” said Emily Bahnsen, Kum & Go philanthropy manager. “It is a privilege for Kum & Go to be part of this program with a host of generous vendors who are committed to a better tomorrow.” “We are incredibly grateful for our new partnership with Kum & Go,” said Allison Shuffield, managing director at Share Our Strength, the organization behind the No Kid Hungry campaign. “With the continued support of committed partners like them, No Kid Hungry is helping children all over the country get the nutritious food they need to succeed.”

High’s Celebrates Employees


| AUGUST 2021

Effective June 21, High’s committed to increasing hourly associate wages by $1 an hour. An attendance bonus rolled out in July for hourly retail associates. Along with the wage increase, the starting wage also increased by $1 an hour, and potential new hires can earn up to $500 in a sign-on bonus. Productions

To show appreciation to current and future associates, High’s launched a campaign in June to thank frontline staff. “Our goal at High’s is to deliver the best guest experience, and we would not be able to accomplish this without our store associates.” said Brad Chivington, senior vice president and general manager of Baltimore, Maryland-based High’s. “Attracting and retaining top talent is a priority for High’s. Investing in our associates with competitive wages and providing a clear career path for our associates to see their experience at High’s as a steppingstone, learning valuable skills or even as a potential career.” June 14 kicked off employee appreciation week, which included a series of themed dress-up days. To show appreciation to the High’s retail staff, the corporate office staff visited stores throughout the week to support the theme of the day and raffled off summer-themed gifts and prizes.


Tiger Fuel Gives Back In June, volunteers from Charlottesville, Virginia-based Tiger Fuel joined a team from the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (AHIP) to help rebuild ramps for a local family with mobility challenges so they can get around their home. Also in June, Tiger Fuel’s gourmet-to-go convenience stores, The Markets, launched a round-up campaign to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge in Virginia. Through September 30, customers can round up their transaction to the nearest whole dollar at select Market locations to support Big Brothers

Big Sisters, where 100% of the funds will benefit the nonprofit. Gordon Sutton, president of Tiger Fuel, serves as a mentor and was named Virginia’s Big Brother of the Year in 2019. “The opportunity to give back to BBBS of the Central Blue Ridge means a lot to me. As a Big Brother for six years, I’ve experienced firsthand the immeasurable impact the mentoring model has on children’s lives. This pandemic has placed tremendous strains on resources and relationships, and I would love to do what we can to support BBBS of the Central Blue Ridge,” he said.

EG America Supports Veterans Westborough, Massachusetts-based EG America launched a national campaign to raise funds for Disabled American Veterans (DAV). The donations will help DAV ensure that injured and ill veterans access the full range of benefits available to them and are another way that the EG Group is giving back to the communities where it operates. From June through July, store employees asked customers to donate an amount of their choosing to DAV at checkout. Funds donated will help veterans: • Find meaningful employment • Receive assistance during times of disaster • Get the benefits they deserve • Receive transportation to medical appointments

EG America brands participating in the DAV promotion include Cumberland Farms, Certified Oil, Fastrac, Kwik Shop, Loaf 'N Jug, Minit Mart, Quik Stop, Tom Thumb and Turkey Hill. “Recognizing and giving back to those who have served our country is vitally important to the EG Group, which is why we are proud to partner with DAV in this important initiative,” said George Fournier, president, EG America. “Many of our team members and guests are veterans themselves, so this association with DAV allows them to connect with the communities where they live and work in a meaningful way. This fundraising effort hits home for the EG Group, and we’re looking forward to our guests playing a key role in this effort.”

GPM Investments Helps Virginia Nonprofit GPM Investments, a subsidiary of ARKO Corp., said its fas mart stores in Virginia helped to raise $23,326 for Friendship Circle of Virginia’s inaugural Walk N’ Roll, which took place Sunday, June 20. Friendship Circle of Virginia is a nonprofit that aims to create an inclusive community by facilitating friendships and social opportunities for people with and without disabilities to connect through meaningful social experiences at home and throughout the community. CONVENIENCE.ORG

More than 250 individuals participated in the event, which encouraged participants to walk, roll, ride a scooter or skate to raise money for the Friendship Circle of Virginia. GPM supported the event by providing fas mart Fuel Up stations around the course, as well as a petting zoo, pony rides, snow cones, cotton candy, swag bags and more. “We truly enjoy working with organizations in our community,” said Michael Bloom, executive vice president and chief marketing and merchandising officer. “We’re proud to have been an event sponsor for the inaugural Walk N’ Roll event and help support local nonprofits in Richmond, and we look forward to more opportunities to partner in the future.”

AUGUST 2021 |



Unintended Consequences

A dramatic increase in the federal tobacco tax will likely have the opposite effect of the bill’s intention. BY ANNA READY BLOM



Cost increase for a large pack of cigarettes with the proposed federal excise tax increase


Average cigarette sales per c-store in 2020


of c-stores sold cigarettes in 2020


| AUGUST 2021

Under current law, the federal tax rate for small cigars and roll-your-own cigarettes is at the same level as cigarettes. However, large cigars, smokeless tobacco and pipe tobacco currently have a lower rate. E-cigarettes are not currently taxed at the federal level but are taxed at the state level in 17 states. The legislation would peg the new tax rates to inflation. OUR POSITION NACS historically hasn’t taken a position on modest increases of the FET for tobacco since the increases have the same effect on every tobacco retail store across the country. However, when the increase is as severe as the Tobacco Tax Equity Act of 2021 proposes, it will not dissuade current users from purchasing the product. Instead, it will just shift them to the illicit CONVENIENCE.ORG


hen you dramatically raise the price of a good, consumers must grapple with paying the higher price or looking for it elsewhere at a lower price. When somewhere else is the illicit market, that creates a huge problem for society. And that’s the potential unintended result of current legislation in Congress that proposes sweeping federal excise tax (FET) increases on all tobacco and nicotine products. In April, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL8) introduced the Tobacco Tax Equity Act of 2021 in the Senate and House of Representatives. The legislation proposes substantially increasing the FET on cigarettes and taxing all other tobacco and nicotine products at the same level.

tobacco market where age isn’t verified, and products are unregulated. For this reason, NACS opposes a substantial increase of the FET for tobacco and nicotine products. A shift to the illicit market unlevels the playing field for tobacco retailers like convenience stores that spend significant time and resources to comply with tobacco regulations. This includes training employees in robust age-verification protocols, how to store and safely stock products, investing in signage and, in many cases, advanced technology. In addition, these retailers collect and remit the appropriate taxes on these products. In the illicit tobacco market, none of these safety procedures and protocols occur. Sellers operate completely outside of the law, offering unregulated products to users of all ages. This is the opposite of Congress’ intention when it passed the Tobacco Control Act in 2009, giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco and nicotine products. Part of the FDA’s job is to oversee the manufacturing of these products, which includes in-depth scientific reviews and scrutiny before a product is approved for the market. Yet illicit market products and counterfeit goods are completely outside of FDA scrutiny. Tobacco has an entrenched problem of illicit market sales that has never been adequately addressed. Earlier this year, the FDA announced that in coordination with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, it had seized more than 33,000 units of counterfeit e-cigarettes at a value of $719,453. “Many counterfeit, unapproved or unauthorized products are likely produced in unregulated facilities with unverified ingredients posing a serious health concern to consumers. It is especially alarming when these types of counterfeit and unauthorized products find their way into the hands of children as studies indicate,” said U.S. Customs CONVENIENCE.ORG

and Border Protection Port Director Timothy Lemaux in an FDA news release. The proposed FET increase will only exacerbate the existing problem of the illicit tobacco market. LEGISLATION STATUS The Tobacco Tax Equity Act of 2021 will need 60 votes to pass the Senate, and given the dynamics among lawmakers, it is unlikely to garner the support needed to pass as a stand-alone bill. However, with Congress trying to pass massive legislative packages, such as infrastructure, lawmakers need to find sources of revenue, colloquially referred to as “payfors,” to fund all they are proposing. The sponsors of the FET increase could try and attach it to a larger bill as a “pay-for.” NACS is organizing tobacco retailers to oppose this effort. As it stands, the proposed FET increase for tobacco is not going to result in consumers quitting the products, as the bill’s sponsors intend. Instead consumers will turn to an illicit market—the ultimate unintended consequence.

Anna Ready Blom is the NACS director of government relations. She can be reached at

TAX HIKE The proposed federal tobacco tax increases include: • Doubling the federal tax rate on cigarettes (raising the tax on a carton of large cigarettes from $105.69 to $211.38) • Applying tax parity across all tobacco products by increasing the federal tax rate for all other tobacco products to match the new tax rate for cigarettes including: o Smokeless tobacco, which includes “Discrete Single-Use Units” (any tobacco or nicotine product not intended to be smoked and is in the form of a lozenge, tablet, pill, pouch, dissolvable strip or other discrete single-use or single-dose unit) o Large and small cigars o E-cigarettes/vapes o Pipe tobacco o Roll-your-own tobacco

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While much media attention has been on efforts by the federal government and international community to address climate change, climate activists are pushing their environmental agenda at the local level. City halls and local zoning boards across the country have been looking at changes to local ordinances and regulations to lower carbon emissions. Switching over local government fleets, such as buses, police cars, fire trucks and other vehicles, to alternative fuels, like electric vehicles, along with implementing more stringent energy efficiency standards at public buildings and installing solar panels at large publicly owned parking lots or garages, are just a few of the initiatives that city councils and county supervisors have been debating. Climate activists have been pressing city councils for fossil fuel bans across the country. According to a report released in early 2021

comparing various climate-related initiatives, the United States had the most cities in the world that had enacted some sort of ban on fossil fuels at the local level by the end of 2020. California led the nation with over 35 cities enacting limits on fossil fuels. And in 2021, more cities are considering or have passed similar bans. These local fossil fuel bans have focused on two sectors—building and transportation. With respect to the building sector, cities have restricted fossil fuel use in new construction, such as bans on natural gas hookups for new homes. Berkley, California, was the first city in the world to implement a ban on new natural gas hookups in 2019. New York City announced at the beginning of 2021 that it would ban all new natural gas hookups by 2020. Brookline, Massachusetts, followed Berkley’s lead, but state law initially preempted the local law until a workaround was finished. While some states are embracing these local measures, others are trying to stop this proliferation of patchwork fossil fuel bans by preempting local initiatives. In addition to the building sector, environmentalists have taken aim at the transportation sector. Earlier this year, Petaluma, California, became the first city in the United States to ban both new construction of gas stations and the addition of more gasoline pumps at existing stations. Beyond these bans, climate groups are pressing local zoning commissions to block new applications for


Richard W. Abel Jaco Oil Company Fastrip Food Stores

Ian Davis C.H. Guenther and Son

Scott Hunt Hunt Brothers Pizza

William B. Kent Kent Companies

Gus Olympidis Family Express Corporation

Riaz Ahmad NSR Petro Services LLC

Varish Goyal Loop Neighborhood Markets

Mike A. Jones Good Oil Co. Inc.

Kevin Kraft FIFCO USA

Dell Cromie Glassmere Fuel Service

Josh Halpern

Doug Kantor NACS

Gabe Olives Impact 21

Paul D. Reid Reid Petroleum Corporation


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G. Christopher Riley Community Service Stations Inc. Randall Sheetz Sheetz Inc. Joseph Vonder Haar iSEE Store Innovations LLC CONVENIENCE.ORG

NACSPAC was created in 1979 by NACS as the entity through which the association can legally contribute funds to political candidates supportive of our industry’s issues. For more information about NACSPAC and how political action committees (PACs) work, go to NACSPAC donors who made contributions June 1-30, 2021, are:




Paige Anderson is the NACS director of government relations. She can be reached at

new gas stations or expansion of existing ones. In Sonoma County, California, three applications have been blocked in the past year. These local successes have emboldened groups like SAFE Cities (Stand Against Fossil Fuel Expansion) and CONGAS (Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations) to build support for these bans in other cities like Seattle, Portland and other regions around the country. These local fossil fuel bans, combined with state zero-emissions mandates and bans on the sale of new gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, plus numerous state and federal incentives to transition to new, cleaner alternative fuel vehicles, such as electric vehicles, are all attempts to accelerate carbon emissions reductions. Every success inspires other local grassroots efforts. For convenience and fuel retailers, what may seem like a small, innocuous proposal can lead to bigger policy implications that no longer seem so modest.

Now more than ever, it is imperative that retailers engage with their representatives—whether it be at the federal, state or local level. NACS can help you navigate the political process and provide resources to build these relationships at the federal level and help connect you to state associations representing the industry at the state and local level. As the old saying goes, keep your seat at the table or you may end up on the menu. With the convenience and fuel retailing industry selling over 80% of the motor fuels in the United States, ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) requirements will have an impact on retailers. Whether it be publicly traded convenience retailers having to disclose ESG-related information or privately held retailers seeking investors, insurance coverage or loans, depending on what information is required and what information is used to make a financial decision, ESG policy will have an impact on the industry.

ONE VOICE This month, NACS talks to Amanda Gray, executive director, Arizona Petroleum Marketers Association. What role in the community do you think convenience stores should play? My neighborhood c-store when I was growing up in Phoenix was a fixture in the Amanda Gray fabric of our community. Today’s objectives and expectations are even higher: partnering with the community on charitable missions, selling healthy food options and household items on the go, retailing age-restricted products responsibly, employing area residents, providing critical goods in emergency situations and more.


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What does NACS political engagement mean to you, and what benefits have you experienced from being politically engaged? Because information is power, political engagement matters enormously. Advocacy is the most important component of association membership in my view. When we tune in and speak up, we can make a difference, but if we don’t, no one else will on our behalf. What federal legislative or regulatory issues keep you up at night? A one-type-fits-all approach to the nation’s future energy supply is my big picture concern. Convenience stores need a level playing field to provide the fuel and food that customers want, whatever that fuel future looks like. What c-store product could you not live without? Absolutely nothing beats a fountain Diet Coke.



Building Into the Future

Duchess updates a legacy brand to meet today’s convenience consumer. BY SARAH HAMAKER

We wanted to create a farmers market feel instead of having everything on a peg or shelf.

The New Albany, Ohio, location is the first Duchess convenience store built with an all-new design featuring modern elements like polished concrete floors, tile, bright lighting and eye-catching signage.


ince 1975, Duchess convenience stores has served customers in central Ohio. “We are a legacy brand and feel very strongly as a brand to continually evolve,” said Nathan Arnold, director of marketing for Heath, Ohio-based Englefield Oil Company, the parent company of Duchess. The family-owned

SEE MORE! Ideas 2 Go showcases how retailers today are operating the convenience store of tomorrow. To see videos of the c-stores we profiled in 2020 and earlier, go to


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company celebrated 60 years of business in 2021 and currently operates 119 convenience stores throughout Ohio, with one West Virginia location. In early 2019, the company decided it was time to bring Duchess into the 21st century. “We wanted to introduce something new to our customers without alienating our current customers, as well as show we were not your typical convenience store,” he said. The things Duchess was known for—fresh food, fresh coffee and clean, bright stores— would stay the same. The new prototype would build on those traits with a refreshed brand ready to meet the future. CENTERED ON FRESH In November 2020, the first new Duchess opened in New Albany, Ohio. “At 5,500 CONVENIENCE.ORG


The New Albany store features in-store seating, an expanded deli section that includes sushi and charcuterie boards, plus treats from a local bakery. A large window looks into the kitchen where sandwiches and salads are made.

square feet, it’s about 1,000 to 1,500 square feet larger than our typical store,” Arnold said. This allowed the company to transform the store’s layout. “We wanted to create a new shopping experience for our customers, including new ways of displaying merchandise and a way to showcase our fresh food,” he said. For example, the new stores—as of June 2021, the concept has three locations—have an expanded deli section with additional coolers dedicated to the on-the-go consumer, featuring chilled bottles of wine and sparkling water, sushi and charcuterie boards. “We wanted to make it convenient to get quick meals and healthy snacks,” Arnold said. A large window looks into the kitchen, where employees make sandwiches and salads. A local bakery provides fresh donuts and cake pops, among other baked goods. Graphics placed throughout the store change to correspond to the current daypart to let customers know what food offers are available now. “We dedicated a whole wall of our store to the deli and fresh foodservice,” he said. “We pride ourselves on providing breakfast, lunch and dinner offers. Our moniker ‘A Fresh, Family Tradition’ became kind of a theme for our new prototype, especially with our foodservice.” A FRESH TAKE The new concept changed the look of the store, too. “We partnered with CONVENIENCE.ORG

Name of company Duchess

local designers who helped us to push the envelope when it came to design,” Arnold said. The team went into existing stores to watch customer behavior to gauge how to make the concept’s flow easier. “For this new flagship, we wanted to make sure we had the right strategy for creating a good experience for customers through the layout, lighting and overall look.” The refresh kept the brand colors of red and gold, but within the store, new elements were introduced, including more hanging graphics that featured

Date founded 1975 # of stores 120 Website

BRIGHT IDEAS In the new Duchess concept, Ohio-made products take pride of place. “We have a couple of tables completely dedicated to locally made items, from honey and soap to popcorn, jams, jellies and salsas,” said Nathan Arnold, director of marketing for Englefield Oil Company, which owns Duchess. “We also feature Ohio-made ice cream and chips and a wide selection of Ohio craft breweries and wines with special signage in the store.” The company worked with local vendors and suppliers to bring the best of Ohio to the store. “Because we’re an Ohio brand ourselves, we wanted to introduce products made in Ohio in a special section,” he said. “We’re proud to tell their story alongside our own story.”

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Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and NACS Daily and NACS Magazine contributor based in Fairfax, Virginia. Visit her online at www.

local breweries and vendors. The concrete floor is complemented with rich wood tones. “This is a more modern building, but we’ve incorporated wood cabinets mixed with frosted acrylic and stainless steel, along with updated signage and graphics,” he said, adding that the latter elements are being rolled out companywide. Some of the shelving has been replaced with tables holding merchandise in baskets. “We wanted to create a farmers market feel instead of having everything on a peg or shelf,” Arnold said. “It’s a little bit of a different approach to merchandise items and allows us to highlight our Ohio-made products, among other special items.” The community has been very supportive of the new store, which replaced

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(in a new location) the previous New Albany store. “Many customers say they can’t believe this is a convenience store because it looks more like a retail store in a mall or shopping center,” he said. Englefield will bring elements of the new concept to four other stores slated for a refresh this year. “We plan to incorporate the new Duchess concept where we can into existing stores and carry it into new builds as well,” Arnold said. Overall, the new concept is an extension of how Duchess views its customers and employees. “We truly feel our customers and team members are family,” he said. “There aren’t many family-owned businesses in the convenience sector, and we want to keep that family feeling throughout our company and our stores.”

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The new NACS TruAgeTM digital age-verification system is frictionless, secure and reliable. BY JERRY SOVERINSKY


here are any number of perennial watchouts that threaten retailers’ bottom lines, from rising swipe fees and labor costs to shrinking tobacco and gasoline sales. Apart from a pandemic, one of the most disruptive threats to operations comes from within—selling age-restricted products to a minor. Last year, two convenience store cashiers in Clarence, New York, were caught in a state police compliance sting and charged with selling alcohol to people under 21 years of age in violation of the New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. Such arrests jeopardize a store’s alcohol license, not to mention the risk of heavy fines and other consequences. The long-standing problem is not a matter of retailer complicity. The internet is replete with offers for near flawless reproductions of personal identification documents, and their use is a persistent problem in college towns. In an industry where those tasked with age verification have consistently high turnover rates, add in an operational mandate for brisk transaction processing, and it’s understandable how certifying age has its vulnerabilities.


Of course, sales can penetrate the most conscientious store protocols, too: That’s where minors hand $5 or $10 to an age 21-plus adult, who purchases the restricted products on their behalf. When the underage consumer is caught, the regulatory presumption and minor’s alibi invariably is, “I bought it at my convenience store.” The ease of accessibility has led to the proliferated usage of restricted products by minors, which in turn has prompted states to pass outright bans on certain items—flavored tobacco, e-cigarettes and vaping products, among others. California, for example, banned the sale of flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes, in August 2020, with underage use a key focus of the legislation. Eliminating sales of age-restricted products to minors is a universal aim of convenience store retailers. The solution, they argue, is not to ban the products; rather, it’s to bulletproof age verification for purchasing them. The distinction is an important bottom-line concern for retailers. Age-restricted products drive trips and basket size:

AUGUST 2021 |


“ NACS and Conexxus are trying to be the great example for how society should prove identity values down the road.” • Transactions with age-restricted products average a $2.85 higher ring than those without such products, according to SwiftIQ data for 2019. • Sales of age-restricted products in the convenience channel topped $95.58 billion in 2020, up 7.5% from 2019, according to NACS and NielsenIQ data. • More than 20% of all age-restricted items are sold during the afternoon daypart from 3 to 5 p.m., according to SwiftIQ data for 2019. As a result, when California banned the sale of flavored tobacco products, the commercial impact was significant. “When they took the sales away from the market, we did a back-of-the-envelope assessment of the impact, and it was huge,” said Gray

Taylor, executive director of Conexxus. “For just the convenience store industry, the sales loss was about a billion dollars a year. Very serious business.” Moreover, piecemeal state legislation did little to reduce access of restricted products by minors. Massachusetts was the first state to pass a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products, and while the law had its intended effect within the Bay State, purchases simply bled across state lines to Massachusetts’ neighbors. “I challenge anyone to demonstrate how this ban has been effective,” said Jonathan Schaer, executive director of the New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association, earlier this year. “New Hampshire and Rhode Island imports have replaced sales once made in Massachusetts by licensed retailers.” As a result, the industry, led by NACS and Conexxus, got to work, eager to find a solution. The goal was to build a more reliable and consistent age-verification process, reducing the need to ban products for all consumers and instead focus on keeping them out of the hands of minors. “We recognize that it’s impossible to completely eradicate the problem of youth getting access [to age-restricted products],” Taylor said. “We are fighting for a stronger age-verification process that will get us much closer to this goal and are seeking to work with state ID issuers in the future to further reduce availability.” TruAgeTM also positions convenience retailers to more seamlessly sell CBD and cannabis and opens up new channels to sell these products:

The Evolution of Age Verification NACS has led efforts to restrict youth access to age-restricted products for the past half-century:



First ageverification training video is released.

“ I.D. Please: It’s the Law” program to prevent illegal sales of alcohol to minors launches.


| AUGUST 2021


NACS is a founding member of the We Card program to provide employee training and educational programs to prevent age-restricted product sales to minors and promote responsible retailing, consistently driving down youth availability in retail. The We Card program has provided retailers with over 1.1 million in-store educational kits and has trained more than 350,000 retail employees nationwide. We Card is supporting NACS in its effort to bring TruAgeTM to market.



NACS supports the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, which regulates the online sale and delivery of tobacco products and closed loopholes for minors to acquire tobacco products.

NACS supports the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act. The law requires online e-cigarette sellers to ensure that delivery carriers verify the age of recipients upon delivery. CONVENIENCE.ORG




GAMECIGARS.COM © 2020 SMCI Holding, Inc.


NACS TruAge™ is supported by more than 133 retail companies that represent 22,000-plus convenience store locations in the United States, plus four industry POS providers. But the technology isn’t just for convenience stores. Any retailer of age-restricted products can use TruAge™ to securely verify a customer’s age at all points of sale. It is free to retailers, consumers and POS providers, and its relevant intellectual property will be placed in the public domain—removing significant barriers to adoption. Learn more about the TruAge™ program and opportunities to participate at

in-store purchases, online orders, curbside pickups and home deliveries. To be effective and accepted by retailers and consumers at all points of sale, the TruAgeTM development process had to incorporate numerous value benefits: It had to be more reliable than existing age-verification procedures; integrate with existing retailer technology stacks and loyalty programs; easy to use and deploy; protect customers’ personal data; and deliver a faster, frictionless retail experience. And it had to be free for all retailers to adopt and operate. No easy task. Yet on May 11, 2021, the work was complete: NACS formally announced its TruAgeTM digital age-verification initiative. The open standard solution includes a digital TruAgeTM app that makes the traditional carding experience more convenient and accurate, applying to in-store ordering, home delivery and curbside pickup. “TruAgeTM provides the least expensive method to reliably verify the age of our customers through the numerous face-to-face authentications already conducted in our stores. It does not expose sensitive personal information and is an important step toward eliminating youth access to adult products. No standalone POS system can do this today,” said 2020-21 NACS Chairman Kevin Smartt, in announcing TruAgeTM. Smartt is CEO of the Texas Born (TXB) convenience chain, based in Spicewood, Texas.


| AUGUST 2021

TruAgeTM makes it easier and more accurate to verify a customer’s age when purchasing agerestricted products, while minimizing the risk of identity theft. A user’s date of birth and photo verify his or her identity. Once the consumer’s age is confirmed, TruAgeTM provides a unique identifier to the POS (not simply an age value) to prove age was checked and to enable forensic proof should civil or regulatory sanctions be lodged against the store. TruAgeTM also lifts store age verification to another important level, by providing a means— through its industry standards approach—to verify age online and in remote delivery situations. Once consumers elect to board the TruAgeTM digital program, they never need to show their license to a TruAgeTM retailer, and they can even purchase agerestricted products online for curbside or delivery. When retailers incorporate TruAgeTM into their loyalty apps, age verification becomes frictionless, eliminating both personal data and the extra effort required to manually verify customer age. TOP-DOWN DEVELOPMENT, GROUND-UP SUPPORT The best description of what TruAgeTM represents is a description of what it is not: a self-serving industry program. Indeed, TruAgeTM aligns with consumer sentiment that has specifically appealed for this type of ubiquitous solution. A national consumer survey conducted by NACS in 2020 revealed the following: •9 0% of Americans surveyed support a nationwide standard for age verification •5 2% “strongly support” such an initiative • 7 8% of consumers favor a mandatory “We Card”-style approach • 76% of Americans would support an age-verification program developed by major retailers •M ost consumers ages 21 to 30 would download the TruAgeTM app and use it when purchasing age-restricted products “Our industry conducts 165 million transactions a day, and 50 million of them involve agerestricted products. Consumers tell us that age verification is essential to restrict access and sales to minors, and it is even more important today as CONVENIENCE.ORG m info@fre • 801-838-7147 ezingpo m

*Source: Sales data from 1,100+ stores that switched to Frazil from other FUB programs during 1/1/2019 – 12/31/2020

new forms of last-mile delivery add challenges to making sure all online orders and deliveries of age-restricted products are legal,” said NACS President and CEO Henry Armour. 22,000 STORES AND COUNTING TruAgeTM was developed in concert with retailer feedback from across the country, ensuring it delivered not just robust age-verification capabilities but also a frictionless retail experience for consumers. At its launch, the program had already garnered the support of 130 retail companies representing more than 22,000 convenience stores in the United States. Major vendors are also onboard, including 14 POS providers, and Molson Coors Beverage Co. is the first major global beer company to support TruAgeTM. Anheuser-Busch, Altria Group and Juul Labs have also been prominent supporters of the program. To encourage adoption, the digital age-verification solution is free to all retailers, consumers and POS providers, and its back-end intellectual property has

TruAgeTM only shares the user’s date of birth and photo to verify identity— the leading-edge method of reducing identity theft and preserving consumer privacy. been placed in the public domain. “We believe that consumer preferences for fast, safe and accurate digital age verification are important as channels blur and more age-restricted products are sold through nontraditional formats,” added Armour, noting that TruAgeTM will expand beyond the convenience retail channel and become “the de facto standard for age verification across all businesses that sell age-restricted products, such as restaurants and bars, as well as online providers.” SAFE AND SECURE A major benefit of TruAgeTM for retailers of age-restricted products and their employees is that it takes the guesswork out of the age-verification process. Manual ID checks leave room for error. They aren’t foolproof or future-proof. Automating the process helps retailers stay ahead of ever-changing legal requirements and things like manufacturer-set limits on certain purchases. Privacy is another selling point. The solution incorporates emerging industry standards on identity championed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), federal agencies and other standardssetting bodies to assure privacy while increasing the reliability of age verification. TruAgeTM is the first solution to embrace the best practices of our digital ID and commerce future, Taylor notes.


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Old World Industries has been a trusted supplier of automotive products for many years to Convenience Stores, by providing the highest quality products that meet or exceed OE specifications.

For Distribution and Promotional Opportunities, contact:

Andrew Kloep • (847) 443-0703 or Email • © 2020 Old World Industries, LLC. All Rights Reserved. PEAK, PEAK & Mountain Graphic, BlueDEF Platinum, BlueDEF Platinum & Drop Graphic, BlueDEF, BlueDEF & Drop Graphic, and FINAL CHARGE are trademarks of Old World Industries, LLC.

Convenience stores sell

Convenience stores sell more than



of the nicotine products purchased in the U.S.

of the beer


of all dollar sales are from agerestricted products


of all unit sales are generated from age-restricted products


of all transactions include age-restricted products

purchased in the U.S. (including on-premise sales)

TruAgeTM includes ID-validation and agecalculation procedures that are not available when a paper identity is used. During a customer transaction, the app provides single-use digital tokens that eliminate all personal information needed to verify age—a capability that satisfies emerging privacy regulation and reduces the risk of identity theft. While standard driver’s licenses contain over 30 separate lines of information that can be accessed in current age-verification practices, TruAgeTM only shares the user’s date of birth and photo to verify identity. This process of “data minimization” is the leading-edge method of reducing identity theft and preserving consumer privacy. TruAgeTM operates on a standardized, verifiable credential “wallet” that houses and maintains verifiable credentials compliant with emerging Department of Homeland Security/W3C standards. “It contains only the identity credentials necessary to prove the document and prove the customer’s age but no payment or commerce functions, which is critical for maintaining security,” Taylor said. However, TruAgeTM—by design—can still integrate with a store’s mobile or loyalty app, with those targeted credentials conveyed without friction in a normal transaction. Once consumers download the TruAgeTM app, the boarding process is simple: “They go back to their favorite convenience store to get validated,” Taylor said. “And now they have a digital token on their mobile device, which is a token capability online, too. So, if they go up to a gated manufacturer, they can issue a token to prove they are of legal age.” That token now facilitates future transactions, eliminating the need for driver’s license scans, which reduces friction at checkout. “We’re creating this crowdsourced and trusted database of people and their age identity through the anonymous token, and we’re allowing the consumer to use this anywhere they want,” Taylor


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said. “It provides them with a ubiquitous way of proving how old they are without telling you anything more about them.” A PHASED APPROACH To encourage adoption and minimize disruptions, NACS and Conexxus are deploying a three-phase approach for TruAgeTM: •P hase 1, Retail-Focused (2020-21): Adopt new retail processes, access scalable and secure hosting systems that tokenize, trace, track, limit and report. •P hase 2, Consumer-Focused (2021): Eliminate personal data at POS; begin piloting the smartphone application to replace the need for a driver’s license scan. •P hase 3, Capability Expansion (2021+): Add retailer- and supplier-desired capabilities, including loyalty programs and 1:1 couponing; add consumer-desired capabilities elites, such as payments tied to ID wallet. LEADING CHANGE The ultimate success of TruAgeTM will depend on how well it is able to prevent sales of age-restricted products to minors, while preserving the safety and security of consumer identities. And for that, NACS and Conexxus are headed in the right direction. “This is a very deep subject; it touches a lot of philosophical things like digital identity and the right of the individual to transact online without needlessly giving up their identity,” Taylor said. “NACS and Conexxus are trying to be the great example for how society should prove identity values down the road.”

Jerry Soverinsky is a freelance writer and NACS contributor. See his work at


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30 YEARS OF PARTNERSHIPS & 8,000 STORES CONVERSATIONS WITH HUNT BROTHERS® PIZZA C-STORE OWNERS Hunt Brothers® Pizza began as a family business founded by four brothers. Today, under the leadership of CEO Scott Hunt, the second Hunt family generation (Bryan Meng and Britt, Erin, Adam and Frank Hunt) keeps the original values going strong. This year, the company is celebrating thirty years of growth in the convenience store industry and reflecting on how the four Hunt brothers laid the foundation for a simple branded pizza program built on serving c-store owners well.

“The Hunt brothers—Don, Jim, Lonnie and Charlie—set out with a focus to help others be successful,” Hunt Brothers Pizza CEO Scott Hunt says. Having grown to 8,000 stores nationwide, Hunt Brothers Pizza recognizes that any larger growth is a result of strong c-store partnerships.” Let’s explore what sets Hunt Brothers Pizza apart by connecting with the true heroes of the business—the c-store owners themselves.

A BRANDED PIZZA PROGRAM DESIGNED FOR C-STORES C-Store: Complete Stop 12 Owner: Ramsey Ali Location: Lafayette, Louisiana After partnering with Hunt Brothers Pizza in 2007, Ali found the branded pizza program’s design to be crucial to his company’s success. “You don’t need to include more employees or extra hours to make the pizzas,” he says. This efficiency helps keep Ali’s business running smoothly while turning a profit. “Hunt Brothers Pizza is one of the best food programs for convenience stores with minimum labor involvement and a small footprint,” Ali adds. By including a branded pizza program with proven success in his store Ali can be a onestop shop for his consumers, serving the community he loves.

C-store owner Harrill enjoys relationships built over time working with Hunt Brothers Pizza. Courtesy: Lee Harrill

RELIABLE FOODSERVICE MAKES LOCAL IMPACT C-Store: Gunter Oil Owner: Mike Gunter Location: Birmingham, Alabama and Surrounding Areas Uniquely, Hunt Brothers Pizza began in rural areas that could be considered food deserts and that trend continues today. “In a few of our locations, Hunt Brothers Pizza is the only real foodservice in the area,” Gunter says. “This helps us build strong ties as we have customers who come in regularly to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner.” Involvement in the community has also been a pillar for Hunt Brothers Pizza for years. “We get to know our community, supporting the local schools and first responder organizations,” Gunter says. Hunt Brothers Pizza’s reliability, combined with a true value placed on supporting each store’s community engagement efforts, makes the Hunt Brothers Pizza branded program a great fit.

UNPARALLELED SERVICE AND SUPPORT Guided by their values and principles, Hunt Brothers Pizza has grown by focusing on being a blessing to each store through Account Managers who provide direct store delivery. C-store owner Ali collaborates with a Hunt Brothers Pizza representative. Courtesy: Ramsey Ali

QUALITY, CONSISTENT FOOD OFFERINGS C-Store: Drop-In Food Stores Owner: Lee Harrill Location: Forest City, North Carolina The consistent All Toppings No Extra Charge® promotion stands out to Harrill as a key to success.

“The ability to make the pizzas special—whatever anyone wants—for one price is great,” he says. Harrill also enjoys the way Hunt Brothers Pizza spices up their offerings with Limited Time Offers (LTOs). These offerings in addition to topping flexibility for one price brings in customers and keeps them as repeat business. From the beginning keeping it simple was the name of the game, which continues to help c-store owners like Harrill drive success.

“Besides being great support on a daily basis, our Account Managers have always risen to the occasion,” Ali says, “even if they had to visit on a Sunday to fix an oven or deliver extra pizzas.” For Harrill, it’s simple: “They look after us,” he says. “They’ll do anything for you.”

LOOKING AHEAD TO YEARS OF BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS Without strong partnerships with customers, Hunt Brothers Pizza couldn’t have enjoyed the 30 years of growth we celebrate today. The company puts their customers first because without customer dedication, growth would be hard to come by. With 8,000 stores actively benefiting from Hunt Brothers Pizza’s leadership in the industry many more are sure to follow, promoting the Hunt brothers’ original vision of being a blessing for years to come.

Mak 1913 Hi On December 1, 1913, Gulf Refining Company opened the nation’s first drive-up service station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, designed and built specifically to sell fuel. On that first day, the station sold 30 gallons of gasoline—less than 1% of the daily sales volume of a fueling station today. Customers at that first station would not recognize today’s fueling outlets. Gasoline retailing has evolved from full-service attendants with crisp, white uniforms to modern, stateof-the-art convenience stores offering self-service gasoline (except for New Jersey and Oregon where self-serve is prohibited). In addition, today’s gas stations sell far more than auto-related products like motor oils, lubricants and batteries, and are known as much for their in-store snacks, drinks and food. And, of course, gas prices have changed. Despite the higher posted prices of today, gasoline is a relative bargain. In 1913, gas cost 27 cents a gallon—which equates to $6.39 per gallon in today’s dollars.


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ing story


Convenience has had three waves. Are we already in the fourth?


hink “beyond the box”—that’s the mantra in retail today. How can retailers grow sales beyond the physical “box” that is their store, whether through delivery, curbside pickup, drivethrus or some combination of them all, tying it all together with internet and app ordering and payment? Industry experts call this convenience revolution “last-mile delivery,” and it has seen massive growth during the past year, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. While these new conveniences may feel like an overnight success, in many respects they have been around for decades or even centuries. The key to determining which of these so-called pivots will gain traction and grow in popularity—or even spin off new conveniences—will hinge on consumer demand and retailer execution. This month, in honor of the 60th anniversary of the founding of NACS in Kansas City, Missouri, we take a look back—and ahead—at how the meaning of convenience has evolved. There have been three distinct waves of convenience, with each one coming twice as fast as the previous one. And the fourth wave looks to be here. “There is no question that key events from our industry’s past have shaped what and who we are today and that changes in our industry have accelerated in size and intensity in the past few years,” said Steve Loehr, vice president of operations support, Kwik Trip, and 2014-15


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Wood Brothers, a 150-year-old dairy company, needed another distribution option for its milk and opened its first convenience store in 1964, now known as WAWA.



NACS chairman. “I think COVID has had and will continue to have a dramatic effect on our industry. Hands-free contactless transactions, self-checkouts, third-party delivery and curbside pickup are all things that have become a part of our industry and will grow in importance in the future.” Frank Gleeson, region president/CEO Northern Europe for Aramark and 2018-19 NACS chairman, agrees. “Technology is such an integral part of every shopping mission, whether it’s voice-activated ordering on your phone or kiosk to a full frictionless environment of an autonomous store,” Gleeson said. “I feel that retailers who don’t embrace this change in some manner or form which is relevant to their offer and location will not deliver a good customer experience.” HOME DELIVERY: 1785-ON Home delivery and the United States almost share the same birthday. Milk delivery was introduced in 1785 in Vermont, when milkmen traveled through neighborhoods with essentially a giant vat of milk, | AUGUST 2021

and residents would use any containers they had handy to fill up. It was more than a century until the patented milk bottle (1878) and eventually insulated containers would be brought in for the milkman to deliver milk and other products directly to a subscriber’s doorstep. Mail-order delivery predates America’s July 4, 1776, founding. Benjamin Franklin created the mail order catalog in 1744, offering book delivery to people’s homes—the same concept Jeff Bezos used to create 250 years later. Over the next century, other specialty catalogues sold seeds or other items for home delivery. The general interest mail-order catalog was introduced in 1872 by Montgomery Ward, although Sears Roebuck perfected the offer. It was once possible to buy a house through the Sears catalog: Everything to build the house, including nails and other fasteners, was sent to your home— or at least the location of your new home. Then there’s food delivery. The first pizza “delivery” took place in 1889 when Queen Margherita of Savoy, who was tired of the local cuisine while on travel, asked a nearby restaurant to prepare traditional Italian food and bring it to where she was staying. That first delivery included a special pizza that featured the colors of the Italian flag: red (sauce), white (mozzarella cheese) and green (basil leaves), which then became known as a Margherita Pizza. That moment did more than create a popular pizza—it planted the seed that to modern consumers seems so basic: Cooking at home or dining in a restaurant aren’t the only ways to get a meal. The Kin-Chu café in Los Angeles offered delivery in 1922. It was the booming economy following World War II that made delivery a trend, and New York City pizzerias began offering call-in, pickup pizzas. In Los Angeles, a few restaurants introduced pizza delivery, a practice that picked up nationally around 1960, the same year that Domino’s, first known as DomiNick’s, opened its first location in Michigan. The strong post-war economy helped spur the suburbs’ growth in the 1960s, but the greater distances for travel between customers made traditional milk delivery from a dairy location cost inefficient. Wood Brothers, a 150-year-old dairy CONVENIENCE.ORG


Milk delivery was introduced in 1785 in Vermont, when milkmen traveled through neighborhoods with essentially a giant vat of milk, and residents would use any containers they had handy to fill up.



CARRYOUT CONVENIENCE WHITE CASTLE introduced a different level of convenience with its carryout sack in 1927. Customers could order food and take it to go to consume later or eat while driving, known as “dashboard dining.”

The first pizza “delivery” took place in 1889 when QUEEN MARGHERITA OF SAVOY, asked a nearby restaurant to prepare traditional Italian food and bring it to where she was staying.

company, needed another distribution option for its milk and opened its first convenience store in 1964, now known as Wawa. Today, Wawa embraces home delivery of almost everything sold in the store, including milk. Wawa is one of many c-store companies that can trace its roots to the dairy industry, and the word “farms” in the name is usually a key indicator, as with Weigel’s Farm Stores, Rutter’s Farm Stores and Cumberland Farms. There wasn’t much of a need for retail fuel delivery during the 20th century with 200,000-plus fueling locations across the United States. Change came in 2015 with technology advancements. Several on-demand fueling companies emerged, including


Purple, Yoshi and Filld. For a delivery fee of $5 to $7, customers could have five, 10 or 15 gallons delivered to their vehicle. The offer was extended to fueling cars on demand at other locations, including office parking lots. And now EVs can have on-demand fueling via companies like SparkCharge and ChargePoint. Electric vehicle growth has presented new opportunities to refuel vehicles, especially in Norway, where most new vehicles are EVs. In addition to its extensive network of charging units along busy roadways in Norway, Circle K continues to install charge points at convenient locations, including chargers in more than 4,200 homes and workplaces.

WAVE 02 DELIVERY SERVICES TO VEHICLES: 1913-ON The invention of the automobile created a second “place” for Americans beyond their homes. It ushered the second wave of last-mile delivery—to the car, beginning with fuel. Karl Benz invented the first gasoline-powered automobile in 1885; however, fueling the first models was inconvenient. Early fueling sites were a patchwork of pharmacies—many vehicles ran on ethanol—or ramshackle sheds and blacksmiths’ shops, where fuel was dispensed from a container into a vehicle’s tank. This early method for refueling changed in December 1913 when Gulf Refining Company opened the nation’s first drive-up service station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, designed and built specifically to sell fuel. The station focused on servicing

The same year that the first gas station opened, the Lincoln Highway Administration was set up and a special fund was established for highway construction. Baum Boulevard, the site of that station, was on the Lincoln Highway and was likely a major reason that the site was selected. Today, all that remains at the location is a historical sign. CONVENIENCE.ORG

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While self-serve fueling had been around in some form since 1947, state and local fire codes kept the concept from growing.

the vehicles. Attendants wore crisp, white uniforms and provided a full-service experience for drivers. Eventually, the service stations specialized in “TBA,” otherwise known as tires, batteries and accessories. Like any new idea, the idea of a true gas station took time before consumers fully embraced the concept. That Gulf station only sold 30 gallons of fuel on its first day, less than 1% of the amount sold at a typical convenience store in a given day. But it was the first of several important redefinitions of retail convenience that focused on the vehicle and expanded during the next two decades. In 1913, the total number of vehicles on the road first topped one million. These car owners wanted to keep their expensive new purchases in tiptop shape. And a year later, the first car wash, the “Automated Laundry,” opened in Detroit. However, it was far from automated, with workers washing, rinsing and drying cars that moved along a conveyor. Now, car care complements fueling, with about 65% of all car washes at businesses that also sell fuel—in other words, at convenience stores. Today, the concept of

DRIVE-THRU CONVENIENCE WAWA garnered a lot of positive press and accolades in January 2021 when it introduced its first drive-thru convenience store, a concept that has been around in the industry for decades, even if they looked slightly different.


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delivery to the car goes beyond washing and fueling. Curbside delivery, for example, is a variation of the “carhop.” In 1921, a Texas BBQ joint called Kirby’s Pig Stand pioneered the concept of delivery to the car. Parking spots surrounded the building on all four sides, and the servers, known as carhops, brought food to people in their cars. White Castle introduced a different level of convenience with its carryout sack in 1927. Customers could order food and take it to go to consume later or eat while driving, known as “dashboard dining.” This concept continues to be embraced by convenience store customers today: 65% of the items purchased at a convenience store are consumed immediately. Curbside pickup and the carryout sack combined create another last-mile delivery concept: the drive-thru, which debuted in 1948 when In-N-Out Burger in California introduced an order system for its burgers, fries and drinks via an intercom and pickup at a window. Many convenience stores embrace this model, whether for food or other items. Wawa garnered a lot of positive press and accolades in January 2021 when it introduced its first drive-thru convenience store, a concept that has been around in the industry for decades, even if they looked slightly different. Other convenience retailers have embraced the drive-thru, whether it’s a drive-thru-only concept like Swiss Farms or one where customers can drive up and order in-store merchandise like at Pak-A-Sak in Texas. Convenience stores may not have flourished without one innovation: self-service shopping for groceries. Before 1916, grocery shoppers presented their orders to clerks, who gathered the goods from store shelves while the shopper waited. (The baseball term “can of corn” describes an easily catchable ball and refers to that time period when clerks knocked cans of corn from upper shelves and caught them in their aprons.) But Clarence Saunders saw that this method resulted in wasted time and expense, so he came up with a solution that would revolutionize the entire grocery industry: a way for shoppers to serve themselves. Saunders showcased CONVENIENCE.ORG


The gas fueling industry continued to stagnate through World War II because of rationing. Customers gathered at this Washington, D.C., station to find fuel before tougher restrictions were to take effect. Gasoline rationing also was used during the 1973-74 oil crisis, and odd-even rationing was mandated in a handful of states during the 1979 oil crisis and briefly in New York and New Jersey following 2012’s Superstorm Sandy.

this concept in the first Piggly Wiggly store in Memphis, Tennessee. Now that shoppers could select their own items, the stage was set for convenience stores, and the first convenience store opened in May 1927 in Dallas, Texas. At the time, ice houses sold big blocks for use in iceboxes, precursors to modern refrigerators. Icehouses were open 16 hours, unlike grocery stores that closed at 5 p.m., to make it convenient to pick up blocks of ice in the cooler evening hours. “Uncle Johnny” Jefferson Green, who ran the Southland Ice Dock, realized that customers sometimes needed to buy things such as bread, milk and eggs after the local grocery stores were closed. So, he decided to stock a few of those staple items. The idea turned out to be very convenient for customers. Joseph Thompson, one of the founders and later president and chair of The Southland Corporation, saw the potential of Uncle Johnny’s big idea and brought it to other ice docks, which were open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Eventually, the company rebranded its stores around its hours: 7-Eleven. Convenience stores are responsible for a significant car-based convenience: self-serve fueling. While self-serve fueling had been around in some form since 1947, state and local fire codes kept the concept from growing. And it wasn’t truly selfserve since an attendant was still required at the forecourt to collect money and authorize the pump. In June 1964, the Big Top convenience store chain introduced the first remote self-service gas pumps in Westminster, Colorado. On that first day, fuel sales only totaled 124 gallons, but this event ushered in the modern era of self-serve fueling. Self-serve gas had massive implications for convenience during the next half century. By the mid-1960s, 7-Eleven had introduced self-serve, to-go coffee and self-serve fountain soda. By the decade’s end, the first ATM was introduced. Today, customers can order groceries by scanning QR codes located on digital signs in train terminals. They can order groceries online and schedule an at-home delivery. They also can make deposits into checking accounts by scanning paper checks via mobile banking apps. The possibilities are extraordinary, and most involve a mobile device. CONVENIENCE.ORG

It took the loosening of restrictions—only 13 states permitted self-serve in 1964 but that number increased to 42 by 1972—and the oil price shock of 1973-74 for self-serve to take off. In 1973, convenience stores sold less than 1% of the fuel in the United States; by 1982, that figure topped 12% and is over 80% today.


WAVE 03 DELIVERY VIA MOBILE DEVICES: 1985-ON Home delivery has historically been linked with a device. Originally the device was a pen and a catalog order form, which was mailed to a business. Later, the device used most for placing orders was a landline telephone. In 1982, a new device was added: The television set became the equivalent of a print catalog with the debut of the Home Shopping Club, a local cable TV channel that evolved into the national Home Shopping Network in 1985. New devices also were introduced at convenience stores in the 1980s. First it was pay at the pump, introduced in Europe in 1982 and in the United States in 1986 by E-Z Serve and its subsidiary AutoGas in Abilene, Texas. The dispensers featured a built-in credit/debit card reader system. Sharp-eyed movie-goers will recognize E-Z Serve from the 1979 movie “The Jerk.” Long-time Abilene resident Steve Martin requested that the gas station where his character worked be converted to an E-Z Serve.

1980s Pay at the pump was introduced in Europe in 1982 and in the United States in 1986 by E-Z SERVE and its subsidiary AUTOGAS in Abilene, Texas.

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AMAZON opened its first Amazon Go convenience store in 2018.


In 2016, EXXONMOBIL released the Speedpass+ app, which allows consumers to pay for gas directly from their smartphones.

Some retailers feared that self-serve fueling would discourage in-store purchases. Instead, pay at the pump increased industry sales, and customers who only wanted fuel embraced the added convenience. Meanwhile, pay at the pump increased in-store foot traffic because it shortened lines by eliminating the fuel-only customer, unless it was a cash purchase. Convenience is closely tied to speed of service and that was also enhanced at the pump in 1996 when Wallis Companies, a Cuba, Missouri-based convenience store chain, served as the test market for Speedpass. In tests, Speedpass reduced the average three- to four-minute fueling time by 30 seconds. Within five years, more than five million customers were considered regular Speedpass users at Mobil-, Esso- or Exxon-branded stations. Altoona, Pennsylvania-based convenience retailer Sheetz pioneered touchscreen kiosks for food ordering in 1993, replacing the cumbersome golf pencil and strip of paper traditionally used at delis to place orders. By 1996, every Sheetz store had the technology, and today the touchscreens are common at c-stores, allowing customers to choose and customize their orders. Touchscreens soon evolved outside the store. In 2004, Sheetz became the first company to experiment with touchscreen kiosks at the pump, where customers could order foodservice items to pick up after they refueled. Sheetz abandoned the idea because it was difficult to execute.

The idea was sound, however, and two University of Pittsburgh students agreed. Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian conceptualized an idea to order Sheetz sandwiches from the pump using their cellphones. They pitched their idea to a start-up investor in 2005, who suggested they try something easier. So, Huffman and Ohanian developed a new concept, launching the popular social news aggregation, web content rating and discussion website called Reddit. Order-by-device innovations set the stage for how retail could take advantage of the coming digital revolution, which blended the in-store experience with the online experience, aided by mobile devices. The device became more convenient when the iPhone debuted in June 2007, followed by Apple’s App Store in 2008. Smartphones quickly moved from a nice-to-have device to something essential to stay connected to each other and to mainstream businesses. In 2016, ExxonMobil released the Speedpass+ app, which allows consumers to pay for gas directly from their smartphones at the pump at thousands of Exxon and Mobil locations across the United States. Hundreds of convenience stores also have their own apps to facilitate orders and payments. Brick-and-mortar retailers continued to rapidly add an online component to their offers. And then something interesting happened: Online retailers wanted to open brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon opened its first Amazon Go convenience store in 2018. Companies like Skip have introduced similar technologies embraced by convenience stores like High’s in Maryland. Russell’s Xpress uses a different technology but with similar applications at completely unmanned stores in Denver. And then there is China, which pioneered the concept of “New Retail,” the melding of the online and in-store shopping experience.


SHEETZ pioneered touchscreen kiosks for food ordering in 1993, replacing the cumbersome golf pencil and strip of paper traditionally used at delis to place customized orders.


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DRIVING THE BUSINESS While fuel demand decreased sharply in 2020, fueling remains important for convenience retailers, both in driving revenues and driving fueling customers inside the store. Some convenience retailers, like BUC-EE’S, have stores that feature more than 100 fueling spots.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped convenience with a warp-speed focus on take-home and pickup items and an ever-expanding number of items that can be delivered. Convenience retailers like The Goods Mart in New York City offer curated snack boxes focused around themes, expanding its customer base far beyond its neighborhood. “Technology has changed everything—even more so in COVID times—from delivery to curbside pickup, technology has changed the way shopping is done,” said Rahim Budhwani, CEO, 6040 LLC (dba Encore Stores) and 2016-17 NACS chairman. “With the labor market changing, it has caused some change in how we operate our stores, so self-checkout kiosks are growing in popularity, and self-ordering is really catching up. Age verification has also become important, as age-restricted items can now be delivered. In some markets, you can have your favorite restaurant deliver a pitcher of freshly made margaritas along with that Margherita pizza. It’s created enormous new opportunities as well as some concerns: How can age-restricted purchases be properly vetted like they are in person? As with most challenges related to emerging trends, equally innovative solutions will be developed (see page 30). “The strength of our industry is that we are so close to our customers that we spot trends and needs directly from the source,” said Jeff Miller, chairman and CEO of Miller Oil Co. and 2010-11 NACS chairman. “What makes us unique is that we are so nimble and customer driven that we respond to these insights quicker and more genuinely than other channels. Do we ‘reinvent convenience’ or do we just do a world-class job of knowing our customers and deliver on their


changing definition of convenience?”

WAVE 04 APPROACHING? In looking at the first three waves of convenience, each wave was roughly half the length of the one prior. Wave No. 1, focusing on the home, was around 128 years until wave No. 2 focused on the car. And that wave lasted 62 years until wave No. 3 emerged, incorporating the device. It’s now been 36 years since the last wave, so it’s possible that we are now in wave No. 4 of reinventing convenience. “Consumer needs will continue to evolve as they have for centuries but with more emphasis on quality, taste, customization and, of course, speed,” said Gleeson of Aramark. “Retailers who can move faster and be consistent will continue to win more market share.” Convenience continues to advance because consumers value convenience as much as anything at retail, including price. That means that all retailers, regardless of channel, must sell convenience. While that makes the competition that much tougher for convenience retailers, it does reinforce two longheld beliefs: Convenience is king, and those who will win are those who can continue to redefine it. “There will be many more changes ahead,” said Loehr of Kwik Trip. “I am confident our industry will be on the forefront of those changes and ready to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers.”

Jeff Lenard is NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. He can be reached at

Today, you are more likely to see EV charging stations at convenience stores in addition to—or instead of—fuel pumps. And startups like ChargePoint and SparkCharge offer EV charging on the go.

Scan the QR code to see a visual history of some of the biggest moments in convenience and fuel retailing.

Smartphones quickly moved from a nice-to-have device to something essential to stay connected to each other and to mainstream businesses. Hundreds of convenience stores also have their own apps to facilitate orders and payments.

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Conference: October 5–8, 2021 Expo: October 6–8, 2021 McCormick Place, Chicago


fter over a year of lockdowns, merchandise shortages and supply chain disruptions, the convenience store industry has never stopped running. We’ve adapted to whatever the world threw at us and continued to meet the evolving needs of our customers and communities. Now, it’s time to look ahead. The 2021 NACS Show is where we can come together to share innovative ideas, solve problems and seize new opportunities, side by side. Now more than ever, it’s important for our industry to build a stronger, more connected community. Don’t miss the opportunity to expand your skills, learn from industry leaders, explore cutting-edge technologies and bring back crucial information, innovations and opportunities for your business.


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EXPLORE THE EXPO Walking through the expo at McCormick Place gives attendees the chance to meet with hundreds of companies and thousands of colleagues—sharing the newest, most exciting innovations of the industry. The expo floor boasts 420,000 square feet of exhibit space, featuring more than 1,200 exhibitors across several categories of interest: • Merchandise • Candy and Snacks • Technology • Facility Development and Store Operations • Fuel Equipment and Services • Food Equipment and Foodservice Programs IDENTIFY COOL NEW PRODUCTS Be the first to see what’s new, what’s inspiring and what will take the convenience and fuel retailing industry to the next level. The Cool New Products Preview Room is loaded with new innovations, products, services and other growth opportunities. The Preview Room is segmented into seven areas to help you easily locate new products: Green (eco-friendly), Health & Wellness, New Design, New Flavors, New to the Industry, New Services and New Technology. Here, you can capture product details and access exhibitor contact information, as well as print your custom “shopping list” for a visit to the main expo. Get an early and up-close look at industry novelties, trends and must-haves since this room is open earlier than the expo floor for retailers.

store market, including emerging categories. Located on the expo floor, the New Exhibitor Area features only supplier companies that have never exhibited at the NACS Show before. Get ahead of the game and your competition with these new products that are ready to hit the shelves and make your cash registers and attendants busier than ever. This area opens earlier than the expo so retailers can get a first look.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? The NACS Show provides the most comprehensive representation of products and services for the convenience and fuel retailing industry, and you don’t want to miss it. Registration is open now. Save your spot and get the pre-show rate. Register today at

DISCOVER THE NEW EXHIBITOR AREA Be the first to engage with the latest technology, products and companies entering the convenience


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INTERACTIVE EDUCATION When it comes to learning, the power of peers is unequaled. Who better to learn from than the real-world industry insiders and retailer superstars who are shaping our industry’s future? NACS Show education sessions are designed—by industry peers—to make you and your entire team better. With learning opportunities ranging from category best practices to fully reimagining business operations to implementing technology innovations, there are education sessions specific to every convenience role and pain point. With more than 40 education sessions, attendees can connect directly with industry experts and analysts and dive into key insights and industry trends to keep your business one step ahead. Choose topics that best fit your needs. Sessions will help you solve the problems you are facing today, including: • Top strategies for transforming a fragile supply chain • Creating an integrated mobile experience • Why cross-channel competitors are winning trips • Roundtable discussions on recruiting and retaining employees • Determining the perfect product mix • A nd more!


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There’s no other gathering, workshop or school on earth that can match the industry-specific educational opportunities found at the NACS Show. To guide your session selection, NACS has developed three segments based on where you are in the business lifecycle in a certain topic: Launcher, Experimenter or Transformer. To use the segments when planning your education experience at the NACS Show, read each session description and look for the segment identifier to understand if the session is designed for your current needs. You might fit into all three segments during the Show depending on where you are in your business. SMALL OPERATOR TRAINING If you want a deep dive into issues unique to small operators, NACS offers four sessions specifically designed for retailers who operate five or fewer stores. Some of the courses allow attendees to obtain nationally recognized certifications. The sessions are free; however, advanced registration for the classes is strongly recommended. (Walkins may be accommodated if space is available.)


TEAM EFFORT Bring your entire team and attend all of the education sessions applicable to your business—this way you won’t regret missing a session. You and your team will learn from thought leaders and visionary thinkers on topics that will help you grow your competitive position.

curriculum, this in-person workshop will incorporate industry data and offer collaborative work sessions designed for maximum learning and retention. Upon completion, each participant will earn a CCACM certificate from NACS and Impact 21.

PREGAME YOUR LEARNINGS NACS offers two advanced courses that can be completed while in Chicago on the first day of the NACS Show. CATEGORY MANAGEMENT CERTIFICATION Earn the NACS Certified Convenience Advanced Category Management Certification (CCACM) by completing a hands-on education session. Comprised of key strategic planning and analytical skill-building programs, the six-hour interactive workshop is tailored for experienced category management and merchandising professionals from retailers and suppliers in the convenience and fuel retailing channel. Completion of the online NACS Certified Convenience Category Manager (CCCM) course prior to this event is strongly encouraged since this advanced program is designed for people who already understand basic category management principles. Drawing on the fundamentals included in the online NACS Advanced Category Management

MULTI-UNIT LEADERSHIP Author Jim Sullivan brings the principles from his bestselling book, Multi-Unit Leadership: The 7 Stages of Building Profitable Stores, to the NACS Show for a one-day workshop to help retail c-store managers build the needed skills to transition to multi-unit leaders. In this six-hour interactive workshop, Sullivan addresses one of the most challenging transitions in a store leader’s career: the move from single-store manager to multi-store manager. Before arriving, attendees should read Sullivan’s book, which will be provided to all registrants prior to the workshop. Register for either of these workshops today at

EDUCATION SEGMENTS: YOU CHOOSE! I have an idea—now what?

How can I simplify/enhance?




You know it’s important to build a strong foundation/ understanding before embarking on a new initiative.

You are focused on growth beyond the foundation/basics, and are starting to develop and implement more complex processes, standards and consistency.

You often look outside the cstore channel for ideas, examining alternative growth opportunities.

Launchers are looking to dip their toe into new waters, desiring to master the basics.

Experimenters are still in testing mode, but looking to set their company apart within a given area.

How-tos and best practices


This is working! How do we take it to the next level?


Transformers are looking to build resource and bench strength for big moves. They are innovators and risk takers within a given topic.

Inspirational, forwardthinking thought leadership

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SCHEDULE OF EVENTS OVER FOUR ACTION-PACKED DAYS, the NACS Show has a full schedule of activities for every kind of convenience and fuel retailer and everyone on your team. Convenience store distributors, retailers, wholesalers and exhibitors/vendors will all uncover the most innovative products and technologies, tap into impactful education sessions and access engaging networking opportunities.

Tuesday, October 5

Wednesday, October 6

7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

8:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Cool New Products Preview Room (Retailers Only)


9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Preconference Workshop: Advanced Category Management Certification (pre-registration required) 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Preconference Workshop: Multi Unit Leadership Training (pre-registration required) 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Cool New Products Preview Room (Retailers Only) 12:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Education Sessions

8:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.

Education Sessions

10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. General Session with Kendal Netmaker 10:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. New Exhibitor Area (Early Access 10:30 a.m.) 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Expo (All Exhibits) 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Cool New Products Preview Room

3:45 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Opening General Session with Jennifer Powers


5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. NACS Show Kick-Off Party (ticketed event)

Kendal Netmaker is an award-winning entrepreneur, author and keynote speaker who is on a mission to empower and motivate people worldwide by sharing his message: Regardless of where you come from and what challenges you face, you have the power to enact change. From Sweetgrass First Nation, Netmaker and his siblings were raised by their single mother. Life wasn’t easy growing up on the reserve surrounded by poverty and few chances for opportunities. Netmaker is a master storyteller and a leading entrepreneur whose passion to succeed is contagious. One of Netmaker’s companies is Neechie Gear—a lifestyle apparel brand that gives back a percentage of its profits to fund underprivileged youth to empower them to take part in sports. He is the author of the book Driven to Succeed.

GENERAL SESSION WITH JENNIFER POWERS As a coach, speaker and best-selling author, Powers has spent the last 15 years helping people remove the mask, crack open their outer shell and reveal the power that lies beneath. She’s coached hundreds of professionals and mentored and trained more than 2,000 coaches. Based on the teachings and strategies found in her best-selling book Oh, shift! and her recent book, Good shift!, Powers uses wit, humor and audience interaction to help participants access tools to better handle change and discover ways to can help themselves (and others) be better. Powers will share easy-toremember, simple, yet life-changing tools to react to change better and to view it in a much more positive light. 54

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Tight on time?


GAMECIGARS.COM © 2020 SMCI Holding, Inc.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS Thursday, October 7

Friday, October 8

7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

7:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.


8:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. Education Sessions

8:15 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.

General Session

8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Cool New Products Preview Room

8:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Cool New Products Preview Room

10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. General Session

9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Expo (New Exhibitor Area and Main Exhibits)


10:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. New Exhibitor Area (Early Access 10:30 a.m.) 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Expo (All Exhibits)

YOUR SAFETY IS OUR PRIORITY The No. 1 priority of the NACS Show remains the health and safety of attendees, staff and partners. NACS has worked hard to develop Show enhancements that will ensure everyone’s well-being. Learn more at


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The NACS Show speaker Kendal Netmaker draws on his indigenous roots to share his lessons in business success and resiliency. Conference: October 5–8, 2021 Expo: October 6–8, 2021 McCormick Place, Chicago


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Kendal Netmaker NACS Show 2021 General session—October 6 10:30–11:45 a.m.




ACS Show speakers sometimes like to brag a bit about their many successes. Not Kendal Netmaker. Never mind that he’s a wildly successful businessman, entrepreneur and motivational speaker who was raised on an indigenous reservation in Cut Knife, Saskatchewan, Canada. When Netmaker gives his keynote speech at the NACS Show in Chicago October 5–8, he will laser-focus on the life lessons he has learned about the ultimate rewards of honest-to-goodness selflessness and how it can uplift your c-store business—and your life. But it wasn’t Netmaker who was the selfless one. It was his mom. And her generosity was soon followed by a life-changing act of kindness from a family friend. These two tandem acts of selflessness made all the difference in Netmaker’s life. They made him who he is, and learning from them could even help improve your ability to communicate with your employees. There is, perhaps, a critical lesson to be learned here by the $256 billion c-store industry as it climbs out of the haze of a pandemic year and regroups in 2021-22. At its simplest: Real success isn’t just about the bottom line—it’s also about giving back. “Life is all about helping each other to succeed,” said Netmaker, 34, who has founded and invested in five businesses, authored a book and won more than 25 small business awards. “That’s what I’ll bring to the table during my speech.” As a child, Netmaker was twice the beneficiary of unusually kind acts. Netmaker’s mom, Inez Weenie, a single parent who left her emotionally abusive


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husband, raised her son and three daughters on her own, sleeping on the couch so her children could have bedrooms. “I grew up in poverty with a lack of basic necessities,” Netmaker recalled. The four siblings and their mom bounced from shelter to shelter until they landed in a tiny home on the reservation, and his mother made certain that Netmaker finally had his own room. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. Perhaps even more unbelievable were the actions of a fifth-grade friend and his family. They not only provided the necessary funds for Netmaker to play recreational soccer but also gave their car to Netmaker’s mom when the school friend’s family had to relocate. Suddenly, Netmaker and his sisters had a way to get to afterschool sports, and his mother had a car to run errands and buy groceries. DRIVEN TO SERVE This act of selflessness utterly changed Netmaker’s life and his family’s. That’s why Netmaker has since dedicated his own life to helping others. His most successful business, Neechie Gear, a lifestyle apparel brand, gives a percentage of its profits to IndigiFund, a nonprofit Netmaker co-founded to


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empower indigenous youth through sports, education and culture. Truly successful business owners should practice this same level of selflessness, he said. “I am a product of my mother’s sacrifices and the sacrifices of others,” he said. “When I started bringing more of that giving back into my businesses, things got better,” he said. “You will have a better performing organization if you do this.” Netmaker knows this firsthand. He’s hired more than 100 employees and takes special pride in learning how to work with people from different backgrounds. Although his business is now run 100% online, he owned 10 retail stores over a 10-year span and has sold his apparel at dozens of retail outlets across Canada. Along the way, he’s learned to constantly nurture his employees by making their jobs aspirational—and surprising them with small ways to say thank you. Sometimes it’s buying them all pizza. Sometimes it’s handing out movie passes. And other times it’s handing out unexpected bonuses. “Your staff should be your No. 1 focus,” he said. “Make them family to you, and they will act like family to you,” he said. Success requires constantly giving employees hope, he said. They, in turn, will pass that same hope along to customers. “When I speak, I try to speak to individuals within the crowd and encourage them to find the space in their heart that wakes them up in the morning and gets them excited,” he said. Convenience retailers need to approach their employees in this same way, he said. Retaining employees, particularly great employees, requires creating a special work environment that makes workers want to stay. Why go elsewhere if your current employer is treating you special? That said, employers can’t ignore the fact that some employees won’t be there forever. Even then, it’s critical to embrace the time you have with them. After all, even though people leave, they will talk about you and your company after they do— and once in a while, they even come back. CONVENIENCE.ORG

Sometimes our greatest failures present the greatest opportunities. DRIVEN TO SHARE Your staff needs to learn about your brand and share its unique story with customers. For a brand to succeed, he said, it needs to be able to tell a compelling story. Netmaker learned the art of storytelling from his mother and grandmother, and it’s this ability to tell and share folkloric stories that helps set him apart from other business leaders. It wasn’t always that way. Growing up, he was terrified of public speaking. Then, as a young man, he entered a competition to write and pitch his own business plan. He reached deeply back into his roots. “This is one of the things we do to pass on ancient knowledge,” he said. “It’s done through stories.” So, he loaded his new business pitch with stories—and he won. Similarly, he said, every c-store must nurture, create and pass on its own story. He’s learned from his failures, too. One of the first brands he created—Moose Meat Apparel—ultimately failed because of intellectual property conflicts around his company’s name. It was that experience that taught Netmaker to be a smarter businessman. “Sometimes our greatest failures present the greatest opportunities,” he said.

It’s also learning about your employees. All of them. “Before you get to team building, you have to understand your team members,” Netmaker said. “If we don’t take the time to understand where they come from, it creates ignorance and leads to problems,” he said. This is particularly true in the hiring process, he said. Hiring is much more than looking at someone’s resume. It’s also about understanding them and their story. The best way to do that, he said, is often by asking this critical question during the job interview: “Can you tell me the story that brought you here today to apply for this position?” he said.

DRIVEN TO LEARN There’s another critical key to success, he said, in the c-store industry: learning. The more retailers learn about best practices—especially ideas found at the NACS Show—the better they can improve their business. “The more we learn the more we grow,” he said. CONVENIENCE.ORG

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Before you get to team building, you have to understand your team members.

When you ask that, he said, most folks will tell you something you never expected to hear. “Something happens when people tell a story that nothing else can accomplish,” he said. Ultimately, Netmaker said, the best hire isn’t necessarily someone who seems to fit the job description. Rather, it should be someone who is coachable and eager to learn. “Anyone who is coachable you can teach skills. You can’t teach a know-it-all,” he said. Teaching employees is key, especially when you can present them with “win-win” situations of learning. For example, there might be a new technology you need them to learn that also could apply to their endeavors beyond your c-store. As part of that life learning, he said, everyone needs a coach or mentor who can constantly show them the way. “All great leaders have great coaches from day one. That keeps them accountable and moving forward,” he said. Great leaders also learn from their own experiences. When Netmaker was a young child, going to a c-store with his family often felt uncomfortable. Instead of hearing a friendly greeting, what they typically received were suspicious looks and eyes that watched them everywhere they went. “When we didn’t feel welcome, we never came back to that store,” he said. Today, Netmaker has two children, and when the family walks into a c-store, they more often than not are greeted with smiles. One c-store owner even calls them by name—a welcome that Netmaker said lures them back again and again. So, when NACS members settle in to hear Netmaker’s motivational advice, don’t expect to see statistics or data points or bottom-line lingo. Expect to hear stories.

Bruce Horovitz is a freelance journalist and national media training consultant. Contact him at


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chools all over the U.S. are gearing up for a return to in-person learning, giving retailers an opportunity to meet the anticipated need for snacks, as well as on-the-go breakfast and lunch options. “We expect to see our guests continuing to return to new routines this fall, and we’ll be ready to serve them,” said Tom Brennan, chief merchandising officer for Casey’s. “We are especially focused on the morning daypart and the opportunity the back-to-school season presents for morning routines.” In June, the Mastercard Spending Pulse forecasted back-to-school U.S. retail sales growth of 5.5%, signaling pent-up demand ahead of reopenings. “Back to school has always been a prime season for retailers,” said Steve Sadove, senior adviser for Mastercard. “This year, the broader reopening brings an exciting wave of optimism as children prepare for another school year, and the grown-ups in their lives approach a similar ‘return-to-office’ scenario.”


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Convenience retailers can partner with schools in unique ways—and boost their standing as the go-to place for snacks and grab-and-go meals. Franklin Bros. Market in Berkeley, California, works with the local elementary school to provide a safe location for field trips. For example, students would often come to the store to spend reward money earned by good behavior in the classroom. Owner Jennifer Freese even hosted second-grade classes for hands-on lessons about money. The class would walk to her store—just down the block from the school— to see what their coins could buy. “I’d hand out a printed list of items and prices, and they’d count out their money to see if they could get a banana and a bag of Goldfish crackers, for example,” she said. “It was a lot of fun for the students and for us, too.”


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ON-THE-GO SNACKING As the go-to for snacks, convenience stores should ensure they are well-stocked ahead of local schools restarting late summer and early fall. As families orient to new routines, they will be looking for portable snack options. “We’ve always been known as a good place for grab and go, especially for last-minute lunch box ideas,” said David Hopper, owner of Dia’s Market in Austin, Texas. Known for its healthy alternatives, Dia’s Market provides the basics to create a healthy lunch that includes a protein, carb and veggies or fruit, which are popular during the school year. The store also stocks up on healthy salty snacks this time of year. “We tend to sell plenty of our healthy salty snacks in the beginning of the school year as everyone gets back into their routines,” Hopper said. Hormel Foodservice suggested retailers could promote snack packs from its popular lines, including Nut-rition, Hormel Natural Choice and Wholly Guacamole to capture the back-to-school crowd. “Snacks are such a big part of how we are eating, even away from home,” said Annemarie Vaupel, vice president of marketing for Hormel Foodservice. “Retailers can emphasize the wide variety of shelf-stable options by promoting unique menu items and portable, prepared foods in different categories.” Added Andy Mecs, vice president of marketing and innovation for StarKist, “We understand the challenge for convenience retailers to provide more healthy, delicious and convenient food options, especially as consumers are back on CONVENIENCE.ORG; Ilya Machulsky/Alexius Septimo/Sergey Bagretsov


For convenience retailers, especially those located near schools or universities, back to school represents a chance to promote snacks, easy breakfast and lunches, and special treats. “Aside from more packed lunches, parents are also anticipating more time spent in the car with a return to in-person classrooms and after-school activities resuming full force,” said Toby Johnson, senior vice president of sales at Campbell Snacks. “This shift will result in a need for portable, on-the-go snack options. Convenience stores are an ideal channel for parents to find these solutions at their fingertips.”

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A REINVIGORATED MORNING The breakfast daypart has been struggling, but retailers are expecting more robust morning sales as schools reopen in late August and early September. “We anticipate our back-to-school marketing will be heavily focused on the breakfast daypart and the new routines as consumers fully emerge from pandemic mode,” said Tom Brennan, chief merchandising officer for Casey’s. To generate excitement during the morning daypart, Casey’s will be launching a coffee offering specifically for morning commuters, including those heading to school. Parents and students have always stopped by Franklin Bros. Market in Berkeley, California, on the way to and from school, given the store’s proximity to a local elementary school. “I’ve also offered parents coffee and pastries in the mornings and kids snacks after school,” said owner Jennifer Freese. “I’m looking forward to getting back to normal in the fall with the school open full time.”

the move.” The company’s new StarKist Creations Microwavables line of readymade meals and its StarKist Lunch To-Go pouch kits “offer smart solutions for this space,” Mecs said. At Mendez Fuel, a four-store convenience chain in Miami, the return of students to school hopefully means a boost to snack sales. “We’ve definitely missed the kids coming in after school buying snacks,” said Michael Mendez, owner and founder. He noted that business didn’t fall off as much as he had expected when schools moved to virtual. “We’ve had more kids and families coming to grab a snack throughout the day, and time will tell if our volumes will return to pre-pandemic numbers around the morning and afterschool dayparts,” Mendez said. SPECIAL MOMENTS Retailers should consider putting together bundles with popular snack and beverage items to create interest from busy families. “Bundling opportunities with simple solutions for the daily


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needs that shoppers will experience as old habits are re-established will be a place for retailers to focus,” said Johnson. For example, Dia’s Market beefs up its meal kit offerings at the start of school. “We’ll make sure we have plenty of rotisserie chickens and sides available for busy families to pick up after school,” said Hopper. “That way, parents don’t have to worry about making another meal on their way home.” Another way retailers can tie purchases to back to school is by providing celebratory products for parents, teachers and students. “Shoppers use snacking occasions to treat themselves, create moments of indulgence and cope with life’s everyday stresses,” said Johnson. To fill that need, Campbell Snacks brought back limited-time offers of Snyder’s of Hanover Chocolate Rounds, Chocolate Pretzel Dips and Peanut Butter Filled Pieces for the fall. Parents have looked to Franklin Bros. Market in Berkeley, California, as a place to give their kids a special treat at the end of the school week. “I called it ‘treat Friday’ with my own kids, and it’s nice to see other parents have the same tradition,” owner Jennifer Freese said. “We have to make sure we have enough ice cream and popsicles for the treat rush because some weeks, the kids clean us out.” GRADE A FUTURE Overall, suppliers and retailers emphasize the need to capitalize on the excitement of returning to school. “The 2020-21 school year was unprecedented and uniquely challenging for parents and students,” Johnson said. “Both are excited about the return to normalcy and their back-to-school routines this fall. Ensuring shoppers’ favorite brands are offered in the right assortment is critical to winning these visits and leaving big smiles on shoppers’ faces as they reset their routines for the school year ahead.” Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and NACS Daily and NACS Magazine contributor based in Fairfax, Virginia. Visit her online at


July 25-29, 2021 The Dyson School Cornell University Endowed by:

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Fall programming kicks off this October!

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Questions? Contact: Brandi Mauro | NACS Education Manager (703) 518-4223 |

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Technology, pickup/delivery and changing demographics are shaping convenience store design. By Renee Pas


orward-thinking. Flexible. Technology. Not the typical lingo anticipated around design chatter, but today’s c-store design experts are more in tune with their clients’ overall game plan than ever before. Finessing the aesthetics and discussing a color palette comes afterward. Consider it strategy-based design, said Mike Lawshe, president of Paragon Solutions, based in Fort Worth, Texas. When he’s approached with a plug-and-play idea someone suggests because they saw it at another store, his first question is, “Why do you want to put that in your store?” His least favorite answer is, “Because it works over there.” “There needs to be a fundamental understanding around why you are doing something,” said Lawshe. “Sometimes it’s about expanding your own knowledge base and walking through what it means when you hear the phrase ‘form follows function.’ Bringing in textures, materials and graphics all comes into play after the functional side.” So, what are the critical components around the functional side of things today in the c-store segment? No single answer covers it all, Lawshe admits. “You have to strip it down to the core customer experience.” The pandemic has altered that customer experience. From a broad viewpoint, he pointed to an increase in touchscreen/frictionless shopping experiences, greater allocation of space between areas throughout stores and a rethinking of customer flow and queuing, both at the checkout and in any foodservice component. Much of this was


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ly g n i m e e s n s r i e c e r n o c The s s e l e l t t i a l lienatin g g a in k r a e v m o y b ’ a ‘ Bubb re nicer. o t s e h t


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already in play pre-pandemic, but he believes the pandemic accelerated each of those areas. A c-store evolution toward a more upscale approach also continues, said Christopher Studach, creative director at King Retail Solutions in Eugene, Oregon. That includes a greater focus on female shoppers, unique foodservice and beverage lineups and Wi-Fi in stores. Again, not necessarily entirely new avenues but accelerated ones. What’s new, he said, is seemingly a little less concern over alienating “Bubba” by making the store nicer. Essentially, the broader base of c-store operators is now elevating stores, rather than mainly the larger chains, and that pushes the entire industry forward as a result. “That longstanding fear of alienating Bubba by elevating store design … the industry seems to be getting over that,” he said. Design today challenges the standard c-store on many levels, said Studach. He noted that his recent projects take an elevated approach to retail. “One of the trends we are finding is that customers that may have utilized a franchised brand prior are now looking to create their own unique brand and are designing the store around that idea,” he said. For Pennsylvania-based Coen Markets, which remains in a process of reimaging/rebranding/ redesigning efforts to unify the 57-store chain with one image and one voice, connecting with customers on multiple levels is critical, from what the store sells to how it looks. The true test of success in terms of branding for Charlie McIlvaine, chairman and CEO of Coen Markets, is if customers connect that they are inside a Coen Market even if they entered blindfolded. “Would they know it’s our store? That occupied a lot of our thinking during the reimaging. With distinct architectural features, our signature orange band, our brand wall, our famous chicken signage, we want customers to recognize it as part of our identity.” Even more important, the larger drive for design and layout considerations at Coen Markets centers around foodservice, said McIlvaine. “We have a complex, from-scratch kitchen, and that’s one of the first things we think about having to


Berlin in 2022 manage through with store design: the ergonomic flow from storage area to prep to cooking, etc., and then how we display the food,” he said. “The visibility with food is hugely important, particularly as guests ‘eat with their eyes.’” Touchscreen ordering systems and where to place those also influenced store design, McIlvaine added. “A lot of times, in a remodel scenario, we are constrained by existing infrastructure, unlike newbuilds which is more of a white sheet of paper. We call our remodels ‘snowflakes’—each store can be different. Therefore, we need to design with adaptability while keeping visual architectural features and functionality relatively consistent.” On the exterior, the chain opted to plumb for electric vehicles in its design but not put the stake in the ground quite yet on EV, said McIlvaine. “When we actually put in EV is a question. In our marketplace today, EV has fairly low penetration,” McIlvaine, said. “Until the technology advances and crosses that inflection point to include universal plugs and ultrafast charging times, I’m just not sure the profitability model is there. We created the opportunity for EV with the basic infrastructure and will be able to deploy at the right time when penetration and technology converge.” The chain is prepared to have select parking spaces to accommodate EVs when the revenue model makes sense. PICKUP DESIGN Since the pandemic, a new motivation has surfaced around technology and app usage, including picking up food at c-stores, said Joseph Bona, president of Bona Design Lab in New York. He encourages c-store retailers to embrace technology. “If you are going to do it,” he added, “do it right. It needs to be seamless and connected. When considering layout, it means specific places where employees can place food for pickup, he said, close to the operation. While delivery and pickup components are not widespread across the c-store industry, designs do need to take into consideration how to serve the delivery set of business that exists today, said Michael Davis, vice president, member services, NACS. He’s traveled extensively with c-store delegations touring on the international front.


Convenience store operators interested in fully immersing themselves in how other cultures approach convenience retailing should consider joining the contingency attending NACS Convenience Summit Europe May 31 to June 2, 2022, in Berlin. See firsthand how German retailers are redefining the shopping experience. Go to to reserve your spot.

C-store delivery models are common in China, Indonesia and Thailand and are growing in Japan, he said, but even neighborhood stores in the U.S. should be thinking about delivery. “If you are the neighborhood store, you should at least take into consideration now or in the future how to handle delivery services and pickup services,” he said, “both in the store and out in the parking lot.” Consider on the global front that some c-stores routinely have customer orders fulfilled multiple times a day, Davis noted, citing Hong Kong as an example. One c-store in a high-rise office building there serves a deliveryoriented customer base with what the store calls room service. “If you are a neighborhood store and people are still working from home, consider all the bells and whistles that people want,” Davis advised. “Design and merchandise around your location.” Davis also added: “Watch where you came from and look around the corner to see what’s ahead. Borrow or steal with pride as the Brazilians say. That’s why people come to the NACS Show, to see what’s happening, what the future looks like. Design has to be flexible to serve today and tomorrow.” INSPIRATION Airports have caught the eye of Bona in terms of presenting an elevated level of mega-functional layout. “There’s a whole new level of retail happening there,” he noted. “Consider how [airport

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spaces] design for quick solutions and a limited time span. How do they set it up? Welcome you in? Merchandise product?” Merchandising pods are a primary component of many airport retail offerings, what Bona refers to as four-way pods in the c-store industry versus long gondola-structured aisles. “We take inspiration from the pod approach,” he said. A simple example using the airport model is one pod encompassing all electronics, he explained, displaying items like earbuds and chargers that are commonly forgotten. “The pod holds all like items and easily, visually telegraphs where things are,” Bona said. “It almost eliminates the need for signage because it’s instinctive.” Whether airports or Starbucks or any other merchandising-centric segment, “always look for inspiration,” he advised. “Look outside our industry for a sense of discovery and experience. Retail has to be a little fun and experiential. In order for your brand to stand out it has to mean something to people. Design plays a role in that.” There is no lack of great retail design from which to draw inspiration, said Studach. King Retail Solutions drew from both historic soda fountains and new independent eateries for one recent project in Texas, which he described as a very different kind of c-store. “The large young professional/millennial demographic led us to create a very different c-store featuring a retro soda and ice-cream shop, a large selection of craft beer and cider, wine and cheese, as well as kombucha growlers to go, all wrapped in a very hip, fun package.”


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At the moment, Studach said there appears to be a post-pandemic surge when it comes to new designs and concepts. A big solution to staying open during the pandemic was much more online ordering and engagement, which he noted does affect store design. “That is probably the biggest takeaway that looks to remain post-pandemic.” Moving even more into the future, new directions “not only push us to new heights of design, but also our clients who may have not operated like this in the past,” Studach said. “In our opinion, the ‘blurring of c-store formats’ is a welcome trend. For too long c-stores have banked on simplicity almost solely, with minimal thought to offering the customers much more than speed. While that is still an important trait, the industry is looking for unique blends of products, services and, thankfully, customer experiences to create competitive differentials, attract and maintain new shoppers.” He added that featured focal points allow for “wow moments,” engaging and leading the shopper through the store. “Those defined spaces give the store the personality we are looking for rather than a homogenous ‘same old thing’ that traditionally defined convenience stores in general.” Renee Pas is a NACS Magazine contributing writer, and she can be reached at



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COOL NEW PRODUCTS This advertorial-style guide of services and packaging appears monthly and is an information-packed tour of ideas and approaches that can change how consumers view your store or choose your brand. It spotlights the newest thinking in convenience and fuel retailing and gives you an advance look at ways of staying in front of industry trends. Products are categorized the same way we organize the Cool New Products Preview Room at the NACS Show each year in October— New Design, New to the Industry, New Flavors, Health & Wellness, Green (EcoFriendly), New Services and New Technology. Products are considered “new” this year if they’ve been introduced since October 2020. The products featured here also can be seen at


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Crime can be costly for your store, so make sure that your team have effective real time communication with wireless headsets. When a potential shoplifter is spotted, staff members can alert the rest of the team without the shoplifter knowing that they are now being shadowed, potentially saving valuable stock, and avoiding unwelcome confrontation. Pro10 headsets are a huge team motivator, saving time and creating a calmer and safer environment for your employees and your customers. With wide range, Pro10 headsets are light and easy to use, they’ll transform your team’s productivity across the whole shop floor, prep areas, office, warehouse, external storage and car parking. Don’t forget to also ask about our Pro9 Headset System for your foodservice drive-thru window. Contact 888-575-1016 or visit CONVENIENCE.ORG

AUGUST 2021 |



Monster Energy Company Monster Hydro

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The New Monster Hydro design establishes clear “energy water” positioning, improves chug-ability, is preservative free and naturally flavored. Monster Hydro currently offers five refreshing flavors including the very popular watermelon and a zero-sugar offering. For more information, call (800) 426-7367 and visit



Federal Industries

Information On Demand, Inc.

Italian Glass

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| AUGUST 2021

IOD provides comprehensive background screening options for all industries. Our program is integrated with the who’s who of applicant tracking & HRIS solutions. We also offer applicant self-entry via our secure web-based platform and tailor packages for any business large or small. Our FCRA certified search team reviews all records before they are returned to the client, typically in six hours or less. A variety of packages and or a la carte services are available to best fulfill your hiring needs, with no contract or sign-up fees. Call us at (855) 914-4636. See us at NACS Show booth #7388. CONVENIENCE.ORG


PURELL® Brand PURELL® Foodservice Surface Sanitizing Wipes

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Our newest innovation, PURELL Foodservice Surface Sanitizing Wipes are formulated for food-contact surfaces with no rinse required. Packed with powerful efficacy and a worry-free formulation, this wipe kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria — including norovirus, Salmonella, Listeria, cold & flu. Kills Human Coronavirus (COVID-19) in 30 seconds. PURELL® Foodservice Surface Sanitizing Wipes make it easy to sanitize large hard-to-wash items, are always ready when speed is a priority, and leave a positive impression with customers. Demonstrate your commitment to a clean and healthy environment with PURELL branded products. Learn more by visiting



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The BIDI® Stick has a unique system that delivers a consistent experience in every draw. Embedded in the device is technology that ensures that each drag consistently provides an experience focused on the needs of adult consumers. The BIDI® Stick has also been awarded a UL 8139 certification for its battery and electrical systems’ durability, demonstrating Bidi Vapor’s commitment to providing a quality vape device for adult smokers and tobacco users 21 and over. For more information, visit wholesale. or email or call (833) 367- 2434.


AUGUST 2021 |




Dynamis Ventures Inc.

NACS; Good Jobs Institute

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NACS NACS State of the Industry Report® of 2020 Data

Discover What’s Next—And How To Get There Faster

Today’s dynamic landscape requires agility—a balance of efficiency and effectiveness to free up resources and fuel new growth. You have to know where to invest in technology and how to harness data to deliver targeted, personalized offerings and customer experiences—it’s essential to winning trips and edging out competition. So, what’s next and how can you get there faster? For more than 50 years, our industry has relied on this report to answer this question and more. Understand the ‘big picture’ with data and analysis on economic, market and shopper dynamics; Maximize effectiveness and profitability with insider access to aggregate financial, operational and category data from more than 27,000 convenience stores across the U.S.; and Benchmark against top performers in the industry and determine key drivers to their success. Get your digital copy and reap the future-altering benefits.


| AUGUST 2021




Old World Industries



NACS Certified Convenience Advanced Category Management

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Federal Industries..................................................................... 78 Monster Beverage Company................................................. 78 NEW FLAVORS

Monster Beverage Company ................................................ 76 Krispy Krunchy Foods LLC..................................................... 77 Nestle USA - Nestle Pro........................................................... 77

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Quail Digital................................................................................ 77 NEW TO THE INDUSTRY

Dynamis Ventures Inc..............................................................80 GOJO Industries Inc................................................................. 79 Bidi Vapor.................................................................................... 79 NACS SOI Report......................................................................80 NACS; Good Jobs Institute....................................................80 NACS

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NACS Certified Convenience Advanced Category Management....................................... 81


CNPbox_quartervertical_July2021.indd 1

AUGUST 2021 |


6/14/21 11:09 AM


Mountain Fresh

Old Snowmass Market is a gathering spot for authentic Mexican and European food and community. BY AL HEBERT

Javier Gonzales-Bringas and his wife, Laura Maine, own Tempranillo, a Spanish-Italian restaurant, and operate Old Snowmass Market in Snowmass, Colorado. They are pictured here with daughter Carmen and son Robert Gonzales-Bringas.


ne might not expect to find cheese and paté imported from Spain and Italy in a convenience store. When customers walk into the Old Snowmass Market they find that and a lot more in this Snowmass, Colorado, store off Highway 82 north of Aspen. Laura Maine and her husband, Javier GonzalesBringas, own Tempranillo, a popular Spanish-Italian restaurant just a few miles down the road in Basalt. Getting into the c-store business was not on the radar screen until they were approached by the previous owners to take over the little store. They saw the need for a convenience store that offered quality food. Plus, many of their restaurant employees were interested in additional work, and the store gave them that opportunity. “We did a full renovation with all new equipment, steam tables and display cases,” Maine said. The idea was to create a safe, comfortable space where customers could find great food made with high-end ingredients in a convenience store.


| AUGUST 2021

FRESH AND LOCAL Customers like the Mexican and European fare, which all starts with fresh, healthy, wholesome ingredients. From pork to pastries, many of the ingredients in the menu items can be found right in Maine’s backyard, which is a 13-acre ranch. “We raise pigs at our ranch. We know that antibiotics or hormones have never been used. We feel really good about serving it because we know how and where they were raised.” The family also raises chickens and sells the eggs at the market. “Our daughter Carmen bakes bundt cakes for the market. The flavors include lemon ginger, lemon blueberry, orange dark chocolate and strawberry white chocolate. She uses the eggs from our ranch,” said Maine. “Everything is made to order. We really stress fresh, high-quality ingredients. People really like authentic Mexican food,” she said. “Our tacos and our breakfast burritos are so big that customers eat half for breakfast and half for lunch. It’s made to order, but it’s fast. Our CONVENIENCE.ORG

Everything is made to order. We really stress fresh, high-quality ingredients.

Javier Gonzales-Bringas rolls out dough for empanadas, one of the specialties at Old Snowmass Market. Made-to-order tamales, tacos, burritos and homemade chicken tortilla soup also are on the menu. The market sells eggs from the family’s ranch, bundt cakes made by Gonzales-Bringas’ daughter and a range of other fresh foods.

tortillas, we get from New Mexico. They come partially cooked. We finish them on the griddle. People appreciate a nice fresh burrito,” she said, adding, “We also sell handmade empanadas and tamales, as well as homemade chicken tortilla soup. Lengua (beef tongue) and buche (pork stomach) are popular. “The Latino community really appreciates us, and the gringos who are familiar with authentic Mexican food like it. For people less adventurous, we have chicken, pork and beef,” explained Maine. As in most c-stores, customers can find gum, snacks and beverages, too. For people looking for something a little more high end, imported paté and specialty cheeses are always available. “People can stop here and find good quality items for appetizers if they are putting a tray together at home. We import products from Spain and Italy, and they sell out. We have Spanish Jamon Iberico, as well as imported chorizo and salami. Customers love the cheese and paté,” she said. THE COMMUNITY TABLE Creating a space where people could gather and feel at home was a priority for Maine and Gonzalez-Bringas. The only interior dining space is a community table that seats 10 people. CONVENIENCE.ORG

It’s a gathering spot for ranchers, tourists, workers, landscapers and others. “We don’t have rows and rows of chips,” she said of the way the store is laid out. “So the center is kind of open. It’s a fun place to be. People really appreciate having a place to sit down and enjoy the meal,” she said. Maine recounted a recent meal around the communal table. “A man and his daughter sat down, and we had the nicest conversation. The interaction was so sweet.” This simple scene is repeated often in the warm atmosphere of the store. That warmth extends to the staff, too. “We have a solid crew right now. We have a team of girls that are great. They are so friendly. My manager, Karen Vasquez, sets the tone and does the training,” said Maine, adding, “Everyone who comes in is greeted in English and Spanish. The people who come in are so nice. It’s the culture here.” Old Snowmass Market stands out for being more than a convenient place to stop between mountain towns. It’s a place where customers from all walks of life feel welcome and comfortable. Maine said, “What I find is every day, people walk in and think they’re walking into a regular convenience store. Then, they look around and look startled. It’s not what they expected.”

Al Hebert is the Gas Station Gourmet and showcases America’s culinary treasure— gas station cuisine. He shares these stories and on occasion, a recipe or two at www. He is a NACS Magazine contributor, bringing foodservice ideas to readers.

AUGUST 2021 |



Food Forward

Healthy options, sustainability and delivery are capturing customers worldwide. BY PAT PAPE

Unattended micromarkets offering self-checkout like this one in the Netherlands from Albert Heijn are gaining traction as grab-and-go spots in office buildings, hospitals and schools.


he pandemic generated a tsunami of changes in the grocery and foodservice industries, and it’s not over yet, according to global convenience store food experts speaking at the 2021 virtual NACS Convenience Summit Europe. Panelists Daan Merckx, manager, retail and innovation at Areaal Advies in the Netherlands; Jesper Østeergaard, managing director of Reitan, which has been the 7-Eleven licensee in Denmark since 1993; and Mary Rose Hannum, senior director, fresh food and beverage experience for Pennsylvania-based Wawa in the United States, discussed how their companies managed pandemic challenges and what future changes retailers can anticipate because of COVID-19.


| AUGUST 2021

At Areaal Advies, Merckx and his associates work closely with developers, recommending retail and foodservice concepts that will attract consumers and make shopping areas “future proof.” “We make shopping areas fun,” he said. Right now, “a trend we’re seeing in the Netherlands is that food retailers and grocers are looking for opportunities in foodservice.” Merckx provided several examples, including two involving SPAR, the private, multinational retail company based in Amsterdam. Last year, SPAR Supermarkets acquired 12 shops, which are named The Tosti Club in honor of a traditional Dutch sandwich. In addition to sandwiches, the chain’s menu features smoothies, pancakes, cakes, granolas, yogurt and the Tosti Slice, a Dutch version of CONVENIENCE.ORG

NACS GLOBAL CALENDAR AUGUST 17-19, 2021 NACS Convenience Summit Asia Live Virtual

OCTOBER 5-8, 2021 NACS Show Chicago, Illinois, United States

A trend in the Netherlands is the pairing of food retailers and grocers in concepts like the Tosti Club shops, owned by SPAR Supermarkets. SPAR is integrating the Tosti model into existing grocery stores to create a shop-in-shop concept.

pizza, all made with quality ingredients. The company promotes its efforts at sustainability and lets customers know that all food waste—even bread crusts— is collected and donated to a petting zoo at the end of the day. SPAR offers Tosti Club franchises and is integrating the Tosti model into the company’s existing grocery stores, a concept known as the shop-in-shop. The shop-in-shop is not new, but it’s gaining momentum. The mini stores can breathe new life into a large retail environment and often become destinations that boost foot traffic in the bigger store. Another novel foodservice concept is SPAR University, a chain of graband-go outlets located on university and college campuses. The unattended stores sell food and beverages, which change by daypart, plus coffee and other products students typically need. Shoppers select their merchandise and then self-checkout using their mobile devices. “Everything at SPAR University is super healthy,” Merckx said of the product selection. A third example is the partnership between Selecta Catering and Albert Heijn, the largest Dutch supermarket chain. When market research revealed CONVENIENCE.ORG

consumers’ growing need for tastier, fresher foods and drinks 24/7, the two companies teamed up to create FOODIE’S MicroMarkets. The current 20 stores, all unattended and located in office buildings, hospitals and schools, are furnished with innovative “smart fridges” stocked with Albert Heijn products. Plans call for opening 80 additional outlets over the next few years. According to the FOODIE’S website, a MicroMarket can be installed and operating within four weeks. ONLINE OPPORTUNITIES When the pandemic closed businesses around the globe and employees began working from home, consumers everywhere became online shoppers out of necessity. There are pros and cons to that, Merckx said. “Look at Amazon or Hello Fresh or the startups like Flink or Gorilla. They make a lot of money disappear from the local economy,” said Merckx. “That’s dreadful for the local economy because that kind of company won’t support, for example, the local football club. But [that same situation] also opened doors for creative local initiatives.” According to Østeergaard of Reitan, the pandemic forced Scandinavian

Although not new, the shop-inshop concept is gaining momentum.

AUGUST 2021 |




grocers to quickly adopt online ordering and offer home For the past several years, 7-Eleven delivery. “Grocers have been stores in Denmark have focused on the only retailers open—other providing customers with vegetarian than us and pharmacies. and vegan food offerings and now They have actually introduced have 60 SKUs in that category. a big range of ready-to-go foodservice products, although we haven’t seen them establish separate brands,” he said. “But they’re growing their foodservice business in general.” Reitan Convenience Denmark was recognized with the 2019 NACS International Convenience Retailer of the Year Award. Hannum of Wawa said that U.S. retailers haven’t seen the changes currently under way in the Netherlands, “but supermarkets had the opportunity to capitalize and promote the convenience of delivery, and we’re concentrating on the competition they bring to that morning daypart.” Wawa stores have long been a part of many commuters’ morning routine, she explained. “But as we saw during

NACS CONVENIENCE SUMMIT EUROPE 2022 The NACS Convenience Summit Europe took place virtually June 1-3. Next year, the event takes place live in Berlin, Germany, from May 31 to June 2, 2022. Visit for more information.


| AUGUST 2021

the pandemic, especially in the morning, those routines have changed. Many people aren’t going out of their homes to work or, if so, it’s much later in the day. They’re purchasing products—coffee or whatever—and having them at home, which is an easy solution for grocery stores to provide.” Understanding the need to be as convenient as possible despite the pandemic’s business disruptions, Wawa also offered shopping options, such as mobile ordering, curbside pickup and home delivery. “We’ve been in that world for over a year now,” Hannum said. “We saw fantastic growth during the pandemic, and it’s continuing.” Wawa has relied on Grubhub, Uber Eats and other delivery platforms to get food into customers’ hands. But when a customer uses a third-party’s app to place an order, they also see what the competition is offering. In response, Wawa developed its own proprietary ordering app. “It’s a constant battle,” she said of the competitive foodservice industry. “But it keeps you on your toes.” GEN Z SHOPPERS “What about Gen Z, the swipe generation?” Merckx asked the panel. “If you look at them, they appreciate sustainability and health products, but they’re less loyal [to brands].” “That’s happening in Scandinavia, as well. They shop all around,” Østeergaard said of the consumer group born between 1997 and 2015. “We’ve developed our own app, which creates some loyalty. We have a lot of active users, and obviously, we’ve been helped by the pandemic because not a lot of retail stores were open. It’s a challenge, and we’re not where we want to be yet. But I don’t think you ever reach that goal. You have to redevelop that all the time.” Hannum agreed that it’s difficult to capture and keep the attention of Gen Z CONVENIENCE.ORG

In the U.S., Wawa offers mobile ordering, curbside pickup and home delivery services. This store in Vienna, Virginia, has EV chargers but no gas pumps. In Scandinavia, Reitan’s 7-Eleven stores are promoting better-for-you food and drinks.

Gen Z appreciates sustainability and health products, but they’re less loyal [to brands].

shoppers. “We have the app, and they’re interested in ‘what is the promotion or the deal?’ and ‘can I get that someplace else?’ So, you’re tackling that,” she said. Fortunately, information from Wawa’s loyalty app—along with traditional research—helps the chain better understand what young people want to buy. “We find what Gen Z is looking for, such as clean-label products, and make sure we communicate that we have them,” she said. “We have a broad range of products—from the highly indulgent and typical convenience store items to clean products or what we would say is a Wawa-branded item. We ensure that we’ve removed all unnecessary ingredients. They may not be low-calorie, but they are clean items.” Gen Z customers tend to go for Wawa sandwiches, which provide a wide range of topping options, and the chain’s fullserve beverage line. “Throughout the pandemic and even into his year, we’ve had phenomenal growth in that area, particularly in the drinks,” Hannum said. “We’re finding it’s the younger consumers who want those types of items, energy drinks and things like

Pat Pape worked in the convenience store industry for more than 20 years before becoming a full-time writer. See more of her articles at


that. Seeing some of those new items dominate the stores’ performance month over month is fantastic, and we continue gathering information to better understand what Gen Z wants and how we can entice them back for that next visit.” Today, consumers of all ages have different dietary needs, and “retailers must offer a variety of choices,” Hannum added. “People eat in many ways. It’s our job to provide them with choices.” For several years, Scandinavian 7-Eleven stores promoted better-for-you food options. 7-Eleven management told suppliers what products they wanted to offer customers instead of accepting whatever merchandise the suppliers made available. But consumer interest wasn’t as great as management hoped. “We’ve increased our product range, and in the past two or three years, the consumer has begun demanding those items,” Østeergaard said. “Sales of traditional products remain relatively flat. Growth in food is coming from the demand for healthier choices, which increased during the pandemic. All the hard work we’ve done over the years is beginning to pay off, and it’s really exciting.”

AUGUST 2021 |


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Poised for a Comeback

Packaged sweet snacks are well-positioned for growth.


ith consumers continuing to crave nostalgic indulgences, packaged sweet snacks are wellplaced to regain losses sustained in 2020. “Packaged sweet snacks had a tough year but there are positive signs the category is beginning to rebound as people return

JUST THE FACTS Accounting for 1.61% of in-store sales, packaged sweet snacks brought in $43,686 in annual sales per store in 2020, according to the NACS State of the Industry Report of 2020 Data.


| AUGUST 2021

to more normal activities and work,” said Jayme Gough, NACS research manager. Nearly every convenience store sells packaged sweet snacks, and the category in the past has been a top 10 in-store sales and gross margin contributor. Last year, packaged sweet snacks brought in 1.61% of in-store sales, according to the NACS State of the Industry Report of 2020 Data. The category brought in $43,686 annual sales per store in 2020, a 2.7% dip year over year. NACS CSX monthly sales data show that during the first three months of 2020, packaged sweet snacks sales per store, per month were on track to increase over 2019, but in April, category sales dipped with the onset of COVID-19 and recovered the remainder of the year with numbers akin to 2018. “Gross margins for the category dropped from 41.00% in 2019 to 38.57% in 2020, leading to a total gross profit decline of 7.4% year over year,” Gough said. In terms of subcategories, according to the NACS SOI report, only muffins/donuts grew sales and gross profits in 2020. But 2021 growth in packaged sweet snacks in convenience stores won’t be without its challenges. The Hershey Company sees fewer trips as the biggest hurdle for packaged sweet snacks to overcome. “While trips are up versus last year for convenience, they are still off versus 2019 in CONVENIENCE.ORG


Industry Sales

% of In-Store Sales 2019


1.64% 1.61%

% of Stores Selling

Avg. Sales/Store 2019




99.6% 99.3%

$44,878 $43,686

Source: NACS State of the Industry Report of 2020 Data

the morning daypart,” said Glenn Frazier, director of category management for c-stores at The Hershey Company. “This is primarily from many companies still letting employees work from home, which has hurt packaged sweet snack sales.” Mindy Shaltry, director of category development for biscuits for Mondelēz, said, “Because of COVID-19, we saw convenience shopping missions shift more to fill-in trips and take-home consumption, which has meant some adjustments to package sizes.” She added, “Also, as the reopening continues this year and people are more out and about, we are seeing traditional immediate consumption occasions in sweet snacking rebound nicely.” As a result, Mondelēz has made a concentrated effort to provide a full range of sizes and varieties to meet the consumer need for on-the-go eating, as well as take-home options. A SWEET MERCHANDISE Consumers view the dessert and cookie subcategories of packaged sweet snacks as a “permissible indulgence,” said Gough. “Packaged sweet snacks can be one of the impulse purchase categories in a convenience store, so merchandising near the counter or coffee bar can drive even more category sales.” Emphasizing the portability of packaged sweet snacks can be another way to increase CONVENIENCE.ORG

sales. “Prepackaged items tend to be a great offer for consumers who are on the move and will eat while performing some other activity, which will likely pick up as more customers get back onto the road for work, school and other activities,” Gough said. Mondelēz has made a concentrated effort to provide more packaging options for the convenience channel to meet the consumer need for on-the-go eating as well as take-home and sharable options. Some retailers focus on a particular daypart with their packaged sweet snacks. Mendez Fuel, with four locations in Miami, has a small section of packaged sweet snacks. “We have mostly muffins, donuts and banana bread for breakfast time,” said owner and founder Michael Mendez. Other retailers concentrate on providing unique selections to grab customer interest. At Dia’s Market in Austin, Texas, unusual

We want to continue to engage those light and lapsed buyers in this category with these special offerings.

THE POWER OF CSX DATA CSX, the engine behind category metrics and NACS State of the Industry data, provides current and customizable tools for financial and operational reporting and analysis in the convenience industry. Retailers can measure their company by any of the myriad metrics generated via our live database. Contact Chris Rapanick at (703) 518–4253 or for a complimentary executive walkthrough.

AUGUST 2021 |







$2,902 $3,000



$1,500 JAN












Source: CSX;

As the reopening continues this year, we are seeing traditional immediate consumption occasions in sweet snacking rebound nicely.


| AUGUST 2021

packaged sweet snacks, like Crispycakes and Moondance gluten-free brownies, have been a hit with customers. “We don’t have a large selection of pre-packaged sweet snacks, but these two brands in particular fly off the shelf,” said owner and founder David Hopper. “In fact, we sell so many, our supplier can’t keep up with demand.” A SWEET SEASON Like with other categories, seasonal and limited-time offerings can be a hit with consumers and keep interest high in the category. “New package types or flavors of sweet snacks around holidays can catch the eye of consumers and invite them to purchase,” Gough said. Dia’s Market stocks a limited supply of seasonal packaged sweet snacks as well as popular flavors like birthday cake yearround. “We’ve found through trial and error which holidays are more popular with our customers and only order those seasonal sweet snacks,” Hopper said. For example, Halloween-, Christmas- and Valentine’s Day-themed packaged sweet snacks do well, along with mocha and mint

chocolate flavors, but Hanukkah and Easter flavors and colors do not. Mendez Fuel brings in seasonal packaged sweet snacks, including pumpkin spice in the fall and Christmastime flavors or colors in the winter. “Usually, these move pretty well for us, as people tend to buy more than one at a time for sharing, especially as offices begin to open up more,” Mendez said. “The seasonal items add a little pop to our packaged sweet snacks.” Mondelēz dipped its toe into the limitededition pool in 2019, with Oreo S’mores for the convenience channel. “We had done limitedtime offers for other channels, but this was the first time we had expanded to convenience,” Shaltry said. Since then, Mondelēz has added other limited-edition Oreo options, including Oreo Lady Gaga in the first quarter of 2021, Oreo Team USA available during the summer, and Oreo Gingerbread coming in November—all of which are supported by unique convenience activation. “We want to continue to engage those light and lapsed buyers in this category with these special offerings,” Shaltry said. “I think it’s one of the key ways that we can engage CONVENIENCE.ORG



SMIRNOFF ICE Premium Flavored Malt Beverage. The Smirnoff Co., New York, NY.

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Subcategory Performance PACKAGED SWEET SNACKS Snack Cakes/ Pastries/Desserts

Percent of Sales

Avg. Sales/Store






Avg. GP$/Store 2020


Gross Margin % 2020




































For more information on NACS category definitions, visit Source: NACS State of the Industry Report of 2020 Data

shoppers in packaged sweet snacks because we know they are looking for variety and seasonal flavors in their favorite sweet snacks.” Other ways companies have kept the category fresh have been mashups, like Reese’s Snack Cakes. “Despite the morning daypart being off, the product has performed well in the afternoon and evening dayparts at convenience stores because of the brand equity of Reese’s,” Frazier said. A SWEET FUTURE These suppliers and retailers believe the packaged sweet snacks category will

rebound in 2021. “As the workforce returns to the workplace, we envision that the morning daypart will come back, and we will encourage merchandising to welcome back those shoppers into the packaged sweet snack category,” Frazier said. Overall, the category is one that resonates with consumers. At Dia’s Market, Hopper will continue to stock packaged sweet snacks. “I don’t see us wavering from our current packaged sweet snacks,” he said. “I want to sell items that are fun and exciting, and the packaged sweet snacks we carry deliver that.”

ADVERTISER INDEX Contact Information


Altria Group Distribution Company................ Inside Front Cover Cash Depot.....................................................................................3 (800) 776-8834

Cool New Products Guide..................76-81

Century Snacks........................................................................................28 CHS Inc. (Cenex Petroleum)....................................................................75 Diaego Beer Company USA.....................................................................93 Dover Wayne Fueling Systems................................................... 57 FIJI Water.................................................................................................67

Contact Information

Thank you to these advertisers who have demonstrated their support of the convenience and fuel retailing industry by investing in NACS Magazine.


Contact Information


Hunt Brothers Pizza.............................................................. 40-41

Old World Industries............................................................................... 37

Invenco Group Limited ..........................................................................39

Premier Manufacturing Inc..............................................................5 & 63

Krispy Krunchy Chicken...............................................................17

Swedish Match North America (Zyn)...........................................9 (800) 367-3677

Liggett Vector Brands Inc...........................................................23 (877) 415-4100 Living Essentials LLC (5-hour ENERGY)........................................7 (866) 960-1700 MARS-Wrigley ............................................................................25 NACS Convenience Matters.......................................................................4 NACS Executive Education......................................................................69 NACS Foundation............................................................................................ 6 NACS Show Education ......................................................................88-89

Freezing Point LLC...................................................................................35

NACS State of the Industry Report .......................................................94

The Hershey Company................................................. Back Cover

NACS TruAgeTM .............................................................. Inside Back Cover


Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and NACS Daily and NACS Magazine contributor based in Fairfax, Virginia. Visit her online at

Swedish Match North America (White Owl)..............................29 (800) 367-3677 Swedish Match North America (Game Leaf)..............................33 (800) 367-3677 Swedish Match North America (Game Minis)............................55 (800) 367-3677 Swisher International Inc. ..........................................................15 (800) 874-9720 Trion Industries Inc................................................. Insert b/t Pgs. 12 & 13 (800) 444-4665 Vitamin Energy LLC.............................................................................10-11

AUGUST 2021 |



Diesel Oops

TikTok Don’t Stop Akram Mohsin, manager of the Tower Gas & Mini Mart in Fresno, California, has created a community inside the convenience store and online. It started with Mohsin recording homeless people who stop by the store, wanting to showcase the personalities that he was encountering, and some of the folks featured gained a fan base. One man, Chris, is known for his dance moves, and Mohsin has caught him on camera busting a move—one video even garnered seven million views. Another man has been captured singing on the TikTok account, and a fan sent him a karaoke machine. The videos have become so popular on social media that people around town have started visiting the Tower Gas & Mini Mart for the possibility of appearing on his TikTok account because patrons never know when Mohsin will ask a customer to sing a song in exchange for a soda. 96

| AUGUST 2021

New Jerseyites remember the first time they pumped their own gas outside of their native state. There’s a learning curve, but most come out of the process unscathed. One native New Jersey woman’s car did not, however, after her first solo pump—as captured on her TikTok. User @nessybabyyy pumped gas for the first time after moving from New Jersey to Maryland for college, and although the gas made it into the tank successfully, it was the wrong type of gas. She pumped her tank full of diesel and needed a tow because, of course, an unleaded-only vehicle won’t run on the green-nozzle stuff.

Famously Fixated Although HBO’s miniseries Mare of Eastown may be over, Wawa’s impact on the cast is not. Kate Winslet, who played Mare Sheehan, subscribed to the Delco Times to help her get into the role, as the series takes place in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and she said oftentimes there were articles about Wawa or offers in the paper. “It almost felt like a mythical place,” Winslet said in an interview. Winslet did finally walk into a Wawa and said it “felt like an honor.” Evan Peters, who played Colin Zabel on the show, said, “It’s a one-stop shop. It’s got everything in there.” Peters is a huge fan of the Gobbler, a hoagie available during the Thanksgiving holiday.


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