NACS Magazine January 2023

Page 1 Advancing Convenience & Fuel Retailing JANUARY 2023 FOOD TRENDS 23 predictions from foodservice pros AT THE HELM Meet the new NACS chairman RELIABLE RESPONSIVE What shoppers say they want now from c-stores
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STAY CONNECTED WITH NACS @nacsonline On the cover: David Peperkamp/Shutterstock. This page: Photography by Tom McKenzie A Time to Give Back New NACS chairman applauds the industry for giving. 36 FEATURES 28 Looking Backward— And Forward The NACS 2022 Convenience Voices survey finds today’s c-store shopper wants the store they know and love—but better. 44 Next-Level Goodness A Q&A with KeHE. 46 23 for 2023 Here’s what c-store foodservice pros see
on-trend. 50
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What’s Your Food Safety Culture? The inaugural NACS Food Safety Conference explored ways to drive change and manage risk in c-store foodservice programs. ONTENTS
2 JANUARY 2023 The presence of an article in our magazine should not be permitted to constitute an expression of the association’s view. PLEASE RECYCLE THIS MAGAZINE somchaisom/Getty Images CATEGORY CLOSE-UP PAGE 60 IT’S A FACT $2,562 The average monthly sales per store of milk in 2021. DEPARTMENTS 6 From the Editor 8 The Big Question 10 NACS News 18 Convenience Cares 20 Inside Washington Here’s what to expect in the 118th Congress. 26 Ideas 2 Go Ewing Oil strives to fulfill its mission of excellent customer service in a friendly atmosphere. 56 Cool New Products 58 Gas Station Gourmet From chili dogs to live worms to beauty supplies—this is what convenience is all about. 60 Category Close-Up The milk category in convenience stores has been trending upward. 64 By the Numbers ONTENTS NACS / JANUARY 2023


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

Lisa King Managing Editor (703) 518-4281

Sara Counihan

Contributing Editor (703) 518-4278


Sarah Hamaker, Al Hebert, Bruce Horovitz




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

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

Ted Asprooth

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


Stephanie Sikorski

Vice President, Marketing (703) 518-4231

Nancy Pappas

Marketing Director (703) 518-4290


CHAIR: Don Rhoads, The Convenience Group LLC

OFFICERS: Lisa Dell’Alba Square One Markets Inc.; Annie Gauthier, St. Romain Oil Company LLC; Varish Goyal, Loop Neighborhood Markets; Brian Hannasch, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.; Chuck Maggelet, Maverik Inc.; Ken Parent, Pilot Flying J LLC; Victor Paterno, Philippine Seven Corp. dba 7-Eleven Convenience Store

PAST CHAIRS: Jared Scheeler, The Hub Convenience Stores Inc.; Kevin Smartt, TXB Stores

MEMBERS: Chris Bambury, Bambury Inc.; Frederic Chaveyriat, MAPCO Express Inc.; Andrew Clyde, Murphy USA; George Fournier, EG America LLC

Terry Gallagher, Gasamat Oil/ Smoker Friendly; Douglas S. Haugh; Raymond M. Huff HJB Convenience Corp. dba Russell’s Convenience; John Jackson, Jacksons Food Stores Inc.; Ina (Missy) Matthews, Childers Oil Co.; Brian McCarthy, Blarney Castle Oil Co.; Charles McIlvaine, Coen Markets Inc.; Lonnie McQuirter, 36 Lyn Refuel Station; Tony Miller, Delek US; Jigar Patel, FASTIME; Elizabeth Pierce, Applegreen LTD; Robert Razowsky, Rmarts LLC; Richard Wood III, Wawa Inc.

SUPPLIER BOARD REPRESENTATIVES: David Charles, Cash Depot; Kevin Farley, GSP




CHAIR-ELECT: David Charles, Cash Depot

VICE CHAIRS: Josh Halpern, JRS Hospitality; Vito Maurici, McLane Company; Bryan Morrow, PepsiCo Inc.

PAST CHAIRS: Brent Cotten, The Hershey Company; Rick Brindle, Mondelez International; Drew Mize, PDI Technologies

MEMBERS: Tony Battaglia, Juul Labs; Alicia Cleary, AnheuserBush/In Bev; Jerry Cutler InComm Payments; Jack Dickinson, Dover Corporation; Matt Domingo, Reynolds; Mark Falconi, Oberto Snacks Inc.; Mike Gilroy, Mars Wrigley;

Danielle Holloway,Altria Group Distribution Company; Jim Hughes, Molson Coors Beverage Company; David Jeffco, Dirty Dough LLC; Kevin Kraft, Q Mixers; Kevin M. LeMoyne, Coca-Cola Company; Lesley D. Saitta, Impact 21; Sarah Vilim, Keurig Dr Pepper


REPRESENTATIVES: Scott E. Hartman, Rutter’s; Steve Loehr, Kwik Trip Inc.; Chuck Maggelet, Maverik Inc.



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 qualified recipients. The publisher reserves the right to limit the number of free subscriptions and to set related qualifications criteria.

Subscription requests:

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to NACS Magazine, 1600 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314-2792 USA.

Contents © 2022 by the National Association of Convenience Stores. Periodicals postage paid at Alexandria VA and additional mailing offices. 1600 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-2792

/ JANUARY 2023
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How It Used to Be

Some of the COVID-19-inspired business practices have stuck around now that we are nearing the end of year three of the pandemic. Can you believe it? Take mobile apps, for instance. Before 2020, I was an infrequent user of the Starbucks mobile app and rewards program and had a smattering of other apps for convenience stores and QSRs on my phone. If the apps aren’t clunky—and the rewards are decent—I use them. Ordering and paying in-person for a beverage or food item that I intend to consume on the go seems so dated. I even use a mobile app to activate the fuel pump and pay for my purchase when I buy gas. That said, I seldom use curbside pickup now, but I did frequently when the risk of contracting COVID-19 seemed quite high. One thing I’d wished had stuck around: vigorous cleaning of everything from the floors to the pin pads on the POS system. Those are things that shoppers appreciate anytime.

Our cover story unveils the findings of the 2022 NACS Convenience Voices mobile shopper insights survey. The upshot? Convenience store shoppers want the c-store of yesterday—and the one of the future. Convenience in terms of location is still the No. 1 reason why consumers visit a particular c-store. Increasingly, consumers are looking at price, rewards and loyalty programs, plus product assortment and speed of service, when they decide where to shop. They also want quality food and ease of checkout, especially mobile payments.

What would the first issue of a new year be without predictions? To that end, we asked some foodservice pros

We’ve come a long way from the ribbon typewriter era to mobile apps for paying at the pump.

to share their thoughts about what lies ahead for c-store foodservice operations (Think: value, simplicity, local, LTOs, coffee). Here’s mine: By the time 2024 rolls around, people will have grown tired of the spicy/sour/flavor mashup craze in favor of simple, classic foods, whether healthy or indulgent.

Finally, welcome to Don Rhoads, our new NACS chairman. Get to know Don and his plans for the year ahead in “A Time to Give Back.”

I hope your New Year is off to a great start! Here’s to new beginnings, my friends.

6 JANUARY 2023
Photography by Kim Stewart
Convenience store shoppers want the c-store of yesterday— and the one of the future


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I think we are forced to creatively solve a lot of problems that are unique to the time we’re in. I just earned my blue belt in jujitsu, and I like to draw analogies to being a small operator. You have an opponent, right? And your opponent could be federal government regulations, for example. It could be the person across the street who might be a Wawa or Sheetz or someone who has it dialed in so well.

It’s your job to think about the angle you approach things with, and moving forward is one move but not always the right move. Sometimes when you look at the scenario, moving backwards makes more sense. In jujitsu, you have to think in 3D, and there are times on the mat when you realize moving forward is the worst place to put yourself in.

During COVID, a lot of places slowed down, but our industry sped up. For two years it was to stay open— that’s still very challenging. Some of my colleagues have had to close doors because they don’t have anyone to work. Is there another angle? Is there an opportunity to be nimble and move faster than your opponent when it comes to innovation or getting the store staffed in a creative way? In terms of innovation, I don’t know that it’s always this big thing. Sometimes it’s just solving problems on the fly and in a new way.

Handling product availability is one example. We’ve always said stay open, keep the store staffed, well-

lit, friendly, clean and well-stocked. Well-stocked is an issue right now, so instead of that forward momentum of saying we need to keep the store stocked, maybe it’s, ‘let’s reduce the stock and create more space. Let’s create a new, more inviting environment that doesn’t feel so crowded.’ Or, ‘let’s highlight the things that our customers really want.’ I’ve noticed my competitors are doing

that. In one store I just visited it was all foodservice, and the actual shelf space and the gondolas in the store set were very minimal.

Everyone in this industry says what you always did isn’t good enough anymore. You have to constantly reinvent yourself, and I think this period is showing us that that’s absolutely necessary, because if you want to be viable to your customers and continue to be convenient, the fast-forward button has been pressed.

One of the things that’s really important about NACS is you get to collaborate with people. When I’m in jujitsu class, my training partner is a black belt and my instructor is a 4th degree BJJ black belt, brown belt in judo and a karate master. You can literally stop in the middle of a roll and be like, ‘hey, I’m stuck. What advice do you have for me?’ And they’ll show you things that you don’t even realize—like you think you’re trapped and there’s no way you’re going to get out of this. And it’s like, ‘OK, bridge your hips up and move this way, and you’re like, ‘oh, I didn’t see that.’

It’s this big moving puzzle of problem solving, and if you train at the right place, the people around you are vested in your success . It’s not unlike NACS. It’s having people around you that help you solve problems.

As a small operator there are a lot of problems to solve right now, and sometimes you feel like you are being crushed by a 200-pound opponent, and you’re not. Sometimes it takes people on the outside to see what you don’t see and to give you the advice you need to move. You don’t have to be the biggest, strongest person in the room. It’s about using leverage, angles, space and the stronger parts of you against the weaker parts of your opponent.

8 JANUARY 2023
 Lisa Dell’Alba is president and CEO of Square One Markets Inc., based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and a member of the NACS executive committee.
What are some of the challenges of being a small operator?


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Register for NACS HR Forum

If you are a human resources professional, you are fully aware that the current labor market and hiring practices are in a period of extraordinary transformation. What are the lasting changes? How do other departments manage attracting stellar staff and retaining top performers?

During the 31st meeting of the NACS Human Resources Forum, set for March 20-22 in Savannah, Georgia, you will get the opportunity to talk with other

HR leaders, develop new ideas and exchange insights into the top issues in the industry. Participants will forge lasting connections and share innovative solutions to stay on top of current challenges throughout the year.

“As an HR leader in our industry, I attend the NACS HR Forum because it is a great place to network and meet new people who are facing and dealing with the same issues as I am—plus, all the legal updates keep me out of

trouble and in compliance,” said Kurt Weigel, recruiting manager for Weigel’s Stores Inc. He adds, “It is great to hear from peers I have known for a long time, sharing insights near and dear to their hearts and the companies they represent.”

This exceptional event educates and connects HR professionals specifically working in the convenience retailing industry. Attendees receive engaging presentations on topics vital to their job, case studies that can generate new ideas and valuable opportunities to build relationships with peers.

Here’s what you can expect when you attend:

Exceptional content—We provide custom-made, high-level content that fosters a fruitful dialogue among participants.

Working group discussions— Engage in in-depth discussions on how HR can innovate within recruiting, retention and development.

Legal and data-driven insights— Sessions are delivered by legal counsel and focus on new laws and regulations that impact the convenience industry; exclusive NACS data on compensation and hiring is also presented.

Lasting relationships Attendees build a strong peer network that can function as a personal board of advisers to help with work issues and opportunities throughout the year and in years to come.

HR solutions—Firsthand look at HR solutions and technologies via a curated list of HR partners who will help prepare you for the future of work.

CEU credits—Participants will receive CEU credits from HRCI and SHRM.

Attend the NACS Human Resources Forum and leave with the toolkit you need to deliver next-level human resource expertise. Register today at HR-Forum

10 JANUARY 2023 UP FRONT NACS NEWS PeopleImages/Getty Images

Future Capabilities of ICE Vehicles and Liquid Fuels

The U.S. transportation sector includes nearly 300 million internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and American consumers were on pace to purchase another 14 million in 2022. Despite the rapid increase in electric vehicle sales, the market will continue to be dominated by ICE vehicles for decades to come. In the pursuit of reducing carbon emissions from the transportation sector, finding solutions for these vehicles must be a priority.

The Fuels Institute report “Future Capabilities of Combustion Engines and Liquid Fuels” presents a high-level summary of research and development projects focused on improving ICE efficiency and emissions and reducing the carbon intensity of liquid fuels. Understanding the objectives and potential benefits of such initiatives is important to better evaluate the potential emission contributions of the transportation sector.

Despite reports that work on ICE technology has ceased and that no additional improvements can be had, this study found thousands of current citations pertaining to research that could yield significant improvements in the performance and environmental footprint of these vehicles.

The report is a snapshot of what might be possible on the path to decarbonizing transportation. Decision-makers should seek viable solutions and support further progress in technology and fuel formulations to achieve a lower carbon future.

Start 2023 With NACS Membership

NACS membership is the best way for convenience retailers and industry suppliers to thrive today and solve for tomorrow’s challenges. Don’t be left behind!

Whether you want to launch your membership or learn about NACS offers for your entire company, NACS is here for you. By becoming a NACS member, your teams will have access to exclusive benefits that you can’t find anywhere else. Learn more about your NACS membership benefits at


Expand Your Fuels Knowledge

Fuels Market News (FMN), published by NACS, is the downstream petroleum industry’s trusted source for fuels-related news and information, covering the fuel marketer and the fuels of today and tomorrow.

Fuels Market News Magazine explores topics from a high level all the way down to the operational details that readers need to stay profitable. is the content-rich news website that reliably covers all things related to the fuels industry—from refinery supply to terminal and bulk plant storage to transportation via pipe-

line, barge, rail and truck, to wholesale distribution and retail marketing.

The Fuels Market News Weekly e-newsletter offers OPIS fuel price data each week through a special arrangement with OPIS, a Dow Jones Company. The data are regional, encompass both retail and rack and cover gasoline (all grades), ULSD, E85 and DEF. This provides retailers and distributors with useful benchmarking metrics to help evaluate their operations.

Accessing the data is as simple as subscribing at

2022 FMN Fuels Innovator of the Year Award Winners Celebrating Innovations and Excellence at the Forecourt SPECIAL ISSUE 2022 In the Lead: Kum & Go’s Brad Petersen Biofuels Don’t Ignore Advanced Biofuels in the Pursuit of Zero Carbon Return
Majors? Some oil companies are re-exploring direct retail opportunities FALL 2022 2023 FEBRUARY NACS Leadership Forum February 08–10 | Eden Roc | Miami Beach, Florida NACS Convenience Summit Asia February 28–March 02 | Waldorf Astoria Bangkok | Bangkok, Thailand MARCH NACS Day on the Hill March 07–08 | Washington, D.C. NACS Human Resources Forum March 20-22 | The DeSoto | Savannah, Georgia APRIL NACS State of the Industry Summit April 18-20 | Hyatt Regency DFW International Airport | Dallas, Texas NACS Leadership for Success April 30-May 05 | Virginia Crossings Hotel & Conference Center | Glen Allen (Richmond), Virginia MAY NACS Convenience Summit Europe May 30-June 01 | Intercontinental Dublin | Dublin, Ireland
NACS Financial Leadership Program at Wharton July 16-21 | The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania NACS Marketing Leadership Program at Kellogg July 23-28 | Kellogg School of Management | Northwestern University | Evanston, Illinois NACS Executive Leadership Program at Cornell July 30-August 03 | Dyson School, Cornell University | Ithaca, New York
NACS SHOW October 03-06 | Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, Georgia
NACS Innovation Leadership Program at MIT November 05-10 | MIT Sloan School of Management | Cambridge, Massachusetts Calendar of Events For a full listing of events and information visit In the Lead: Powerhouse’s Alan Levine E-Fuels A future carbon-neutral alternative to fossil fuels Training Up Truckers SUMMER 2022
of the

Member News


Kwik Trip CEO and President Donald P. Zietlow retired effective December 31, 2022, after 52 years with the Wisconsin-based retailer, including 22 years as CEO and president. Under Zietlow, Kwik Trip more than doubled its store count, launched new foodservice programs and debuted its loyalty program. Scott Zietlow took over as president and CEO on January 1, 2023, after retiring from his role as a professor of surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Pilot Company announced Angie Cody is now director of inclusion, diversity and equity. Cody will manage current inclusion, diversity, equity and awareness efforts, craft strategic action plans for the advancement of an accessible, equitable and inclusive work environment and help increase the company’s diversity recruitment pipeline.

Stewart Spinks , founder and chairman of the board of The Spinx Company, received the Order of the Palmetto at the company’s 50th anniversary celebration. Presented by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, the award honors people who have generously served the state and its inhabitants by recognizing their achievements and contributions to the community.


Petroleum Equipment Inc. (PEI) has named Joe Barker president and owner of the fourthgeneration, family-owned business. PEI focuses on designing mission-critical fuel systems. Founded in 1932, by Bill Morgan, the company has since operated under continual family leadership.

Dave Hinton has joined Flexeserve Inc. as president of the Americas. Hinton will lead the Flexeserve team at its new headquarters and culinary support center in Southlake (Dallas), Texas. Hinton was most recently group vice president of Middleby Corporation’s Star Holdings Group, where he was responsible for eight different commercial equipment brands. He also has worked for European-based Electrolux Professional.

Chris Howard now serves as executive vice president, external affairs and new product compliance at Swisher. Howard succeeds Joe Augustus, who recently announced his retirement. Howard will lead Swisher’s external affairs strategic objectives and provide regulatory approval and compliance support for new product development. Howard previously held the role of senior vice president, general counsel and chief compliance

officer at E-Alternative Solutions (EAS), a Swisher company.

Zach Duesler was promoted to vice president of design and architectural services at Food Concepts Inc. Duesler is a registered architect with 18 years of experience, including over a decade working for Cuningham Group Architects. Duelser will draw on his broad project experience and design influence with a focus on providing inspired design of branded foodservice programs, proprietary equipment and improved aesthetics to the retail marketplace.

Food Concepts has promoted Jake Kneebone to vice president of operations.

Kneebone is an 11-year veteran of the company who came with a degree in construction management and a background in cabinet building. Kneebone reorganized operations and led improvements in printing, cabinet building and general assembly operations.

Alex Kulis was promoted to vice president of national accounts at Food Concepts. Kulis joined FCI in 2009 as a design consultant. Kulis’ background includes a degree in architecture and expertise in construction, hospitality, manufacturing and in supporting large retailers.

Donald P. Zietlow Dave Hinton Chris Howard Zach Duesler Angie Cody Joe Barker Alex Kulis Jake Kneebone Stewart Spinks

New Members

NACS welcomes the following companies that joined the association in September and October 2022. NACS membership is company-wide, so we encourage employees of member companies to create a username by visiting All members receive access to the NACS Online Membership directory, latest industry news, information and resources. For more information about NACS membership, visit


1207 Convenience LLC dba Country Farm Monroe Township, NJ

A Plus Pawn Shop Inc. Bartow, FL

Aden Investment Inc. dba Super Stop Tuscaloosa, AL

AleSat Combustíveis S/A São Paulo, Brazil

Australian Association of Convenience Stores Burleigh Heads QLD, Queensland, Australia

Beyond Food Mart Chino, CA


Compket Trading Rabat , Morocco

DAR USA Inc. Albany, OR

De Vapors Vape Lounge Yuma, AZ

Domans General Store Inc. Vassar, KS

Enterprise America Dallas, TX

Estepp Energy LLC Lexington, KY

Fen’s Market Inc. Woodstock, NB Canada

Fraziers Newnan, GA

Granada Fuel & Food Livermore, CA

Have A Snack Valero Highland, CA

Hump Convenience Texarkana, TX

Hough Petroleum Corp. Ewing, NJ

Jamoline LLC Lacombe, LA

JFC Tobacco Corp Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

Jitterbugs Box Elder, MT

Kajy Petroleum Company Farmington, MI

Kaya Inc. Hammond, LA

Kimura General Store Hilo, HI

KWIK SERV/Joe’s Gas & Smog Oxnard, CA

Little Snap Stores La Grange, TX

M&M Market Lynn Haven, FL

Maggie’s Mini Mart Laverne, OK

Mercier Enterprises Inc. dba Chuck’s Corner Market Burbank, CA

Morgan Fuels Ireland Killean, Newry, County Down, Ireland www.morgan

Pit Stop Express Dorton, KY

Priya Nidhi Inc. Calhoun, GA Raje Inc. Jefferson, GA

Ray’s Oasis Harlowton, MT

RockAndRoll GmbH Dessau-Rosslau Germany

Rodeo West LLC Cody, WY

Samcor Fuel & Tobacco Mount Vernon, WA

Suncor Energy Inc. Calgary, BC, Canada

TA Express Cookeville Cookeville, TN

The New Era/ Uncle Abe’s Pizza Bedford, IA

The Trails Burien, WA

Tobbins Inc. Bakersfield, CA

Trashless Inc. Austin, TX

TyKo Gas & Go Kanab, UT

Welch’s Stop N Shop LLC Oakdale, LA

Wills Investments Group Flower Mound, TX


Bucked Up American Fork, UT


4SCORE® Wixom, MI

Anigriv LLC New York, NY

Atlantic Beverage Distributors Holliston, MA

Bay Labs Inc. Baldwin Park, CA

Beaver Street Fisheries Jacksonville, FL

Bedrock Analytics Oakland, CA

Beverage Parts Source Norton Shores, MI

Bonneval Waters LLC Atlanta, GA

BURRITOBAR USA Inc. Toronto, ON, Canada

Canadian Canning Inc. Hamilton, ON, Canada

Car IQ Inc. Oakland, CA

Celegans Labs Inc. dba AtoB San Francisco, CA

ChargePoint Campbell, CA

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Salt Lake City, UT

Cloud Foodie LLC Las Vegas, NV

CoBank Greenwood Village, CO

Converge IoT Coral Springs, FL

CS Hudson Inc. Hauppauge, NY

Dakota’s Best Distributing Rapid City, SD

DARI LLC Clinton, WI

16 JANUARY 2023


Tomball, TX

Delta Munchies Los Angeles, CA

Dewey’s Bakery Winston Salem, NC

Dible Dough LLC Fayetteville, AR

Dispositivos Mecanicos RB Temecula, CA

Earthly Treats Inc. Boonton, NJ www.fromthegroundupsnacks. com

Electric Era Seattle, WA www.electriceratechnologies. com

Elite Beverage International Miami, FL

Energy and Environmental Design Boca Raton, FL

Freedom Beverage Group Irvine, CA

Fresh Farms E-Liquid Costa Mesa, CA

Fresh Products Perrysburg, OH

Finish Line Sales

Brokerage & Marketing Sunland, CA

Fire Department Coffee Rockford, IL

Furmano Foods Inc. Northumberland, PA

Gaming Hospitality Solutions Inc. Aurora, CO

GC3 West Des Moines, IA

Generation 195 San Francisco, CA

GLOW Beverages Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Granite Bay Gourmet Foods San Rafael, CA www.granitebaygourmetfoods. com

Growers 2 Home Corporation Doral, FL

Grupo Nutresa South Pasadena, CA

Heartland Works Charlotte, NC

Hempsi LLC Vancouver, WA

Hilt Ventures LLC Las Vegas, NV

Hygeia Carson City, NV

ICON International Inc. San Clemente, CA

Iconex North Chelmsford, MA

Integrated Cash Logistics Wilmington, DE

Investors Gone Wild Panama City, FL

Juxta Kensington, London United Kingdom

KBI - Kens Beverage Montgomery, IL

Kepak Convenience Foods Dublin 15, Ireland

Lactalis Heritage Dairy Chicago, IL

Landmark Snacks LLC Beatrice, NE

Le Nid Consortium International Scottsdale, AZ

LifeMade Products LLC Greer, SC

LionExt Santa Fe Springs, CA

Locatium Madrid, Spain

Made In Nature LLC Boulder, CO

Mananalu Boone, NC

Metaplus SA de CV MERIDA, Yucatán, Mexico

Mountain/Service Distributors

South Fallsburg, NY

nData Services LLC Centennial, CO

Novamex El Paso, TX

Nutrislice Denver, CO

Olivier Agency Chicago, IL

Original New York Seltzer Cornelius, NC

Point Mobile Seoul, South Korea

Proximo Spirits Jersey City, NJ

Reckitt Benckiser Parsippany, NJ

Republic Amusements

Arvada, CO

Riboli Family Wine Los Angeles, CA

RYSE Up Sports Nutrition Frisco, TX

Services Petrolier Harrisson Joliette, QC, Canada

Shopworks Limited TRING, United Kingdom

Shout About Us Del Mar, CA

Smart Soda Mayfield Heights, OH

Snacks R Us San Bernardino, CA

SSE Group LLC Houston, TX

Star Snacks Jersey City, NJ

Strateq Sdn Bhd Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

SZCO Baltimore, MD

TankU Ltd Haifa, Israel


T-DOH Packaging Salt Lake City, UT

The Cronos Group Toronto, ON, Canada

The Plascon Group Traverse City, MI

Tru Fru LLC Salt Lake City, UT

UNiTE Yorba Linda, CA

Unity Wholesale Centerville, GA

VMT Distribution Paterson, NJ

VendPro Inc. Riverside, CA

Vermont Cider Company Middlebury, VT

Veroniusa Swedesboro, NJ

VMT Distribution Paterson, NJ

Wasserstrom dba Amtekco Industries Inc. Columbus, OH

White Sign Texarkana, TX

Wise Power Inc. Las Vegas, NV

World Wide Foods Las Vegas, NV



7-Eleven Expands CMN Fundraising

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and 7-Eleven last year launched a holiday fundraising campaign at participating 7-Eleven, Speedway and Stripes stores. Through January 10, customers can round up their purchase at checkout or donate $1 to help support more than 105 member hospitals in communities across the country.

“Following a successful Speedway Miracle Tournament and Celebration Dinner this summer, which raised nearly $3 million, we are excited to expand our support of CMN Hospitals with the launch of a holiday fundraising campaign in 7-Eleven, Speedway and Stripes stores,” said Rankin Gasaway, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for 7-Eleven. “Funds raised through this campaign will help advance pediatric health care by providing critical lifesaving equipment and much needed resources to treat children throughout the communities we serve,” Gasaway said.

“The holiday season is always a special time of year—a time for reflection and giving back,” said Teri Nestel, president and CEO of CMN Hospitals. “Roundup campaigns hosted by our corporate partners, like 7-Eleven, make it easier

for consumers to share the holiday spirit this season and support their local CMN Hospital. Their generosity will help ensure kids have access to holistic, best-inclass care to unleash their full potential.”

7-Eleven began its partnership with CMN Hospitals during 2022 to help protect kids’ health and well-being across local communities. Since 1991, Speedway, a part of the 7-Eleven family of brands, has partnered with CMN Hospitals to raise more than $150 million for local children’s hospitals through in-store campaigns, promotions and its annual Speedway Miracle Tournament and Celebration Dinner. In 2021, Speedway’s generous customers, vendor partners and associates raised more than $19 million for the nonprofit organization.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds for 170 children’s hospitals that support the health of 10 million kids each year across the U.S. and Canada. Donations go to local hospitals to fund critical life-saving treatments and health-care services, along with innovative research, vital pediatric medical equipment, child life services that put kids’ and families’ minds at ease during difficult hospital stays and financial assistance for families who could not otherwise afford these health services.

Every year, the convenience and fuel retailing industry dedicates billions of dollars to advancing the futures of individuals and families in our communities. The NACS Foundation unifies and builds on NACS members’ charitable efforts to amplify their work in communities across America, and to share these powerful stories.

Learn more at


1 Carroll Fuel and High’s raised more than $100,000 to support the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center through two campaigns: the 16th Annual Doug Miller Sr. Golf Tournament and the High’s Keep the Change program. The annual golf tournament was recently renamed to honor the late Miller, who had been a part of the Carroll Fuel organization for over 40 years. High’s launched “Keep the Change” in November of 2021 to support organizations within Carroll Fuel and High’s community, including the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, local animal shelters, food banks, The American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society.


2 Casey’s has partnered with Gatorade to provide $60,000 in funding to three youth sports organizations in Knoxville, Kansas City and Oklahoma City through Gatorade’s Fuel Tomorrow initiative. The funding provides $20,000 to each of the organizations for equipment and resources to better serve youth in underserved communities.

18 JANUARY 2023
In The Community


NACS encourages retailers to share their giving-back news on social media using #ConvenienceCares.

“Casey’s is proud to partner with Gatorade to ensure the athletes of tomorrow have a level playing field,” said Katie Petru, director of communications and community at Casey’s. “From purchasing necessary sports equipment to hiring new coaches, our combined resources are allowing these young athletes the chance to excel at their passions, and we couldn’t be happier to fuel a better tomorrow for these rising stars.”


3 The GATE Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Jacksonville-based GATE Petroleum Company, and GATE customers raised $40,000 in support of Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October. Funds were raised in GATE convenience stores in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina through the company’s “Buddy for a Buck” paper icon campaign. From October 1 to 21, customers could donate $1 and sign their name on a paper icon displayed in the GATE store. Customers could also donate by rounding up their purchase to the nearest dollar. Funds were allocated to local Down Syndrome associations in the communities where collected.


4 OnCue collected $60,236 in nonperishable items from stores to distribute to local food banks and other high-impact community organizations in 2022, along with $19,713 in monetary donations for specially labeled sales items in stores. The largest recipi-

ent of donations was the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, which received over 3,500 pounds, the equivalent to 2,916 meals for those in need. The organization also received over $14,000 in financial support through the sale of select wines at OnCue stores. Our Daily Bread, a food resource center in OnCue’s hometown of Stillwater, Okla., received over $11,000 worth of food products and $5,706 in financial support. In 2023, the sale of reusable fountain cups under the OnCue Gives program will benefit the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and Our Daily Bread through the end of March. For each cup purchased, 50 cents will be donated.


5 Rutter’s Children’s Charities donated $20,000 to PA Wounded Warriors in honor of Veteran’s Day. The statewide nonprofit provides support to Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, veterans in crisis and their families. “We’re very appreciative of all those who selflessly serve our country each and every day.” said Chris Hartman, president of Rutter’s Children’s Charities. “It was an easy decision to support PA Wounded Warriors because of the

amazing work they do for any veteran in need of assistance throughout our communities.”


6 Sinclair Oil’s fall giving campaign, Fueling Folds of Honor, raised nearly $1 million to support the children and spouses of fallen or disabled veterans and first responders by providing educational scholarships. A portion of fuel bought at participating Sinclair stations was set aside for Folds of Honor during the campaign. Sinclair anticipates awarding more than 180 educational scholarships of $5,000 each to families of fallen veterans in areas served by Sinclair stations. “Words cannot express how grateful and humbled we are by the actions of our Sinclair family during this campaign,” said Jack Barger, senior vice president of marketing for HF Sinclair. “Together I believe we have done something meaningful for the next generation, and we’re honored by how our station partners embraced this program.”

1 2 4 5 6 3

Divided Government

Key Figures 1st

Sen. Patty Murray will be the first woman to be Senate president pro tempore.

2The number of years that the 118th Congress will meet.

It wasn’t until eight days after the 2022 midterm elections closed that most media outlets made the call that Republicans had successfully wrested the majority control in the House of Representatives from the Democrats. It was only a few days before that they were able to make the call that the Democrats had retained their majority control in the Senate when they reached the 50-seat threshold, guaranteeing the majority regardless of the outcome of the December 6 runoff in Georgia, thanks to Vice President Harris’ tie-breaking vote. Such was the result of hard-fought midterm elections which saw tight races in both chambers.

Once these final outcomes were in hand, the members of both chambers turned their attention to leadership elections, and Republicans looked forward to taking control of the House and setting the agenda on the floor and in committees. While Republicans did swing control of the House, they fell far short of what many expected to be a red wave. They even lost a seat in the Senate and failed to pick up the Georgia seat, which was retained by Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who defeated Herschel Walker.

The results were particularly discouraging to many Senate Republicans who had hoped to take the majority in that chamber. In the aftermath, some members organized an ill-fated challenge to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) leadership position. National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.) stepped up to challenge McConnell for party leader but was defeated easily in a caucus vote. At the same time, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) was reelected as Republican Whip, and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) was reelected as Republican conference chair. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) claimed the vacant Republican Policy Committee chair, and two new members of the caucus joined the leadership table. Sen.

20 JANUARY 2023 INSIDE WASHINGTON Andrii Yalanskyi/Getty Images
Here’s what to expect in the 118th Congress.

Shelley Moore-Capito (R-W.Va.) claimed the vice chair of the conference seat, and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) will replace Scott at the helm of the NRCC.

Senate Democrats chose to hold their leadership elections after the Georgia runoff in December, and no major changes were expected. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will remain majority leader. Majority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Assistant Leader Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Communications Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) were not expected to face challenges. The only change to Senate leadership will be president pro tempore. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) holds that position but is retiring. The job, while largely ceremonial, presides over the

Senate in the vice president’s absence, and the position is third in the line of presidential succession. Traditionally, the role goes to the most senior member of the majority party. For the 118th Congress, Sen. Schumer has tapped Sen. Murray to be the first woman to hold that role in Senate history.

While NACS has enjoyed positive relationships with most of these members, some of have presented challenges to our industry. Sen. Thune opposed NACS efforts to protect SNAP data, Sens. Murray and Stabenow have both been staunch opponents of certain health initiatives, including menu labeling and SNAP hot foods. On the positive side, Sen. Durbin has long been our industry’s champion on swipe fees, and Sens.

Barrasso, Ernst and Moore-Capito have been our allies on energy policy.


On the House side, the fact that Republicans won fewer seats than expected impacted their internal leadership races, most notably for speaker. Rep. Kevin McCarthy has been the Republican leader since 2014, serving as majority leader under speakers John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and minority leader since 2018. He sought the speakership after Boehner’s resignation but was blocked by the party’s right wing, resulting in Ryan’s election to the position. It is that same right flank of the party that challenged him again. In the end McCarthy easily won the internal vote and, as of this writing, is expected to earn the majority vote he needs on the House floor. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was unopposed in his bid for majority leader. The third-ranking position of majority whip was a spirited three-person race, ultimately won by Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Wis.), who has chaired the Republicans’ campaign arm for the past four years. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) beat back a challenge to remain conference chair. Wrapping up the elections, Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) joins the leadership as conference secretary, and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) will take the helm of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

After losing the majority, the Democrats saw a seismic shift in House leadership. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the first woman to hold that position, and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) have held the top two positions in House Democratic leadership for the past two de-



cades. In an impassioned floor speech in November, Pelosi reflected on her years as leader and announced her intention to step down from leadership but remain in Congress. Hoyer followed by announcing the same decision. The Democrat caucus elected Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) as party leader, and Rep. Katherine Clarke (D-Mass.) was tapped as party whip. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) will be caucus chairman. Beyond that, the other positions may have competitive races, though Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has served alongside Pelosi, and Hoyer is also expected to seek the assistant Democrat leader position he has held in the past.

NACS has good relationships with many of these members. Reps. Scalise and Emmer have participated in NACS In Store events, and the others have enjoyed a strong relationship with the industry. On the Democrat side, Jeffries and Clarke are members with whom NACS has worked with in the past and will seek to continue to foster those relationships. In both chambers, changes among the key committees will impact legislation brought forward at those panels and then ultimately to the floor. Here is a look at how those changes may impact key industry issues.


The Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee have jurisdiction over banking and financial services industries, including Federal Reserve oversight. While the issue of swipe fees falls mostly under the jurisdiction of these committees, their leadership has tended to shy away from the issue given the strong views of both the retail and banking industries. In the Senate, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) will remain chairman. In the House, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) will take the gavel. Rep. McHenry participated in a NACS In Store event at a QuikTrip in his district in 2018. He has said he will focus on digital assets and privacy as chairman. NACS and the Merchants Payments Coalition will continue to engage the committees and their members on the need for a competitive payment system.

Last year, the Senate Judiciary, chaired by Sen. Durbin, held a hearing looking at the anticompetitive practices of Visa and Mastercard. Sen. Durbin has long been a champion of the convenience industry on payments policy. He sponsored the Durbin Amendment in 2010 and last year introduced the Credit Card Competition Act. He will remain the Judiciary Committee chairman in the new Congress, which may present opportunities for the committee to analyze and address the monopolistic control of dominant credit card brands.


The main responsibility of both the Senate and House Agriculture committees next year is drafting the Farm Bill, which authorizes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and is set to expire in 2023. In the Senate, Chairman Stabenow will remain at the top of the committee. With Republicans holding the gavel in the House, Rep. G.T. Thompson (R-Pa.) will become the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Rep. Thompson participated in a NACS In Store event in 2018 at a

22 JANUARY 2023
Andrii Yalanskyi/Getty Images

Sheetz in his district and understands the critical role convenience stores play in the program. NACS will work with both parties as the 2023 Farm Bill process begins and will advocate for two changes to the program. First, NACS is asking that Congress remove the restriction on hot foods to give SNAP families needed flexibility with their benefits and to ease administrative burdens within stores. Second, NACS is asking that the ban on processing fees, which expires with the current Farm Bill, be made permanent.


Most tobacco policy in 2023 will come from the Food and Drug Administration, which is expected to introduce a proposed rule on very low nicotine this spring and potentially finalize rulemakings banning menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. With Republicans at the helm of the Energy and Commerce Committee, it is not expected that they will take up tobacco policy. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which also has jurisdiction over tobacco policy, will be chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has supported stronger regulation of the tobacco and vaping industries. It is unclear where tobacco will fall on Senate Democrats’ agenda.


The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee have primary jurisdiction over issues relating to the supply, production, refining, distribution, labeling and sale of motor fuels, including the Clean Air Act and Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. They also have oversight authority over the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which implements these programs. Both committees regularly hold oversight hearings on the EPA and the RFS program and will continue to do so in the 118th Congress. With the EPA working on the next stage of the

What does NACS political engagement mean to you, and what benefits have you experienced from being politically engaged?

Before I was involved with NACS political engagement efforts, I was skeptical as to how I can make a difference as a single supplier in a massive industry. As I got to know the retailers and fellow suppliers, I realized that NACS was so much more than the NACS Show. There are real issues that constantly affect our industry that need to be addressed. As our business grew in the industry, and I became aware of the issues that really mattered to the retailers in this space, I felt it was incumbent that I help address the issues that could impact this incredible family of retailers and supplier partners. Being involved with NACS became a real passion of mine. By participating, in addition to all the incredible relationships you make along the way, you are more in

RFS program and creating an e-RINs program, both committees will be actively reviewing the agency’s efforts. In the Senate, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Sen. Moore Capito will remain as chair and ranking member, respectively.

In the House, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) will lead the Energy


This month, NACS talks to Frank Squilla, EVP, industry and trade relations, InComm Payments.

tune with what is important to maintain and grow the business you have come to love, and the retailers recognize that you care about more than just your business. I can’t say enough about this organization and the benefits to my business and the long-term, sincere personal relationships that have been born out of mutual passion about a wonderful industry.

What federal legislative or regulatory issues keep you up at night?

I am not one to lose sleep on many items, but I always concern myself with federal overreach, especially on the current motor fuel and EV discussions. Mandating specific fuels or transportation technology is not good for consumers, the environment or the convenience industry. The government should remain technology neutral and let competition drive the best energy solutions to reduce carbon emissions. The force-feeding of EVs and the demonization of liquid motor fuels are truly concerning.

What c-store product could you not live without?

Being from Philadelphia, you know I need my Wawa morning coffee every day. Then, of course, the egg white breakfast Sizzli. It’s my go-to.

and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) will be the ranking member. Both Reps. McMorris Rodgers and Pallone and Sen. Carper participated in NACS In Store events. One of the top House Republican issues of the 118th Congress is to pass a comprehensive energy bill focused on domestic



energy production and encouraging an “all of the above” approach to energy supply. Although there may be attempts to make changes to the RFS program, past efforts to make even minor changes have proved elusive. These past debates have been more of a regional battle between the oil-producing Gulf region and ethanol-producing Midwest region.

Supply constraints and gas prices also have met congressional scrutiny with both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce Committee holding hearings during the last Congress. If high fuel prices continue, there could be another round of hearings, especially in the Senate. The Senate Commerce Committee, chaired by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), has also been trying to move pricegouging legislation, but efforts stalled last Congress. Sen. Cantwell will continue to chair the Commerce Committee, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will take over from Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mo.) as ranking member.


While it is unlikely Congress will move legislation on climate in the 118th Congress, the White House will use its


executive authority to advance its climate agenda, and agencies will pursue climate-related requirements within their authority. The executive branch will continue to implement the climate, EV and EV charging programs under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Republicans in the House are expected to use their oversight authority to review how these multibilliondollar programs are being implemented.

The chairs of the House Energy and Commerce, Transportation and Infrastructure and Oversight and Reform committees have indicated they will hold hearings.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) will be taking over the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), who retired. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) will be ranking member. Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) will lead the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Rep. Comer has participated in a NACS In Store event in his district. Following the primary loss of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who chaired the committee last Congress, Rep. Jamie Raskin (DMd.) will be ranking member.

The Senate Energy and Resources Committee will continue to be led by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) as chair and Sen. Barrasso. The committee has primary jurisdiction over issues related to electricity, the Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In the past, this committee has been able to function in a surprisingly bipartisan basis. Both senators have expressed concerns with the EV-only approach to climate and may provide an opening to inject a more technology-neutral and proprivate sector investment approach to the issue.


The Republican majority in the House will all but assure no dramatic tax policy changes. Divided government means that the Democrats will no longer have the ability to push their favored tax policies through the budget reconciliation process bypassing bipartisan agreement. Senate Finance Committee leadership will remain unchanged. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) will retain their respective positions of chair and ranking member. The top spot on the House

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 November 1-30, 2022, are:

Blake Benefiel Altria Group Distribution Company

Ned Bowman

Florida Petroleum Marketers Association

Stephen Brady Techniche

Brad Call

J&T Management

Benjamin Englefield Englefield Inc.

James F. Fiene Clark Oil Company Inc.

D. Brian Griffith Golden Pantry Food Stores Inc.

Robby Posener RaceTrac Inc.

Mark Reese RaceTrac Inc.

Don Rhoads

The Convenience Group LLC

Anna Serfass NACS

Eric Taylor Taylor Quik Pik

Richard Wood Wawa Inc.


Jared Scheeler

The Hub Convenience Stores Inc.

Brian Wright Executive Leadership Solutions Inc.

24 JANUARY 2023

Ways and Committee is vacant with the retirement of Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas). As of this writing, his successor atop the GOP side of the committee was undecided. The candidates are Reps. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) and Vern Buchannan (R-Fla.). Rep. Jason Smith is the top Republican on the Budget Committee, so if he is tapped for Ways and Means that will create another chair opening. On the Democrat side, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) will continue as the panel’s top Democrat.

Much of the committee’s time on the House side will be taken up with oversight of the Internal Revenue Service, which just received a significant boost in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act passed last year, of which the new Republican majority is skeptical. Both committees will begin tackling what to do about the individual tax cuts

from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in 2017 that will begin to expire in the coming years and what to do about the ever-present issue of tax extenders.


At the helm of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Sen. Sanders is likely to pursue an aggressive pro-organized labor agenda, but very few, if any, of the policies he will push in the panel will reach the Senate floor. The Republicans will elevate Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) to be the ranking member. The lack of bipartisan agreement on labor policy is likely to keep the issue muted in terms of actual legislation adopted.

On the House side, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) secured a waiver to continue as the top Republican on the Education and Labor Committee and is expected

to take the gavel. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), though, has announced he also will seek the chairmanship. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) will continue as the Democrats’ top member of the committee. The Republican majority will likely spend much of its time focused on oversight of the Biden Labor and Education departments as the White House is expected to continue to ramp up rulemaking and executive orders related to labor issues.

Jon Taets is NACS director of government relations. He can be reached at jtaets@


With a mission to serve its communities, customers and team members, Ewing Oil LLC has worked hard to become a unique shopping destination. “Our vision is to become the region’s leading customer service-oriented gas stations and convenience stores,” said Tyler Meyer, operations manager for the four-store chain headquartered in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Three of the stores are in North Dakota—Grand Forks, Drayton and Hillsboro—and one is in Warren, Minnesota.

In 2017, the owners heard about a co-op looking to sell its four convenience stores with fuel and decided to purchase the stores and make a go at being owners of a

Ewing Oil strives to fulfill its mission of excellent customer service in a friendly atmosphere. Service With a Smile Name of company: Ewing Oil Year founded: 2017 # of stores: 4 Website:

small chain. Ewing Oil—named for the 1980s “Dallas” TV show oil tycoon, J.R. Ewing—was born.

The long-neglected stores had an unappealing appearance when the new owners took over in September 2017. Meyer joined them in January 2018 and immediately set out to upgrade the stores. “We’ve handled most of the small upgrades ourselves, like replacing lighting with LED light fixtures to make the stores brighter,” he said.

They decided to leave the outside alone and focus on the interior. “We wanted people to feel welcome when they entered,” Meyer said. They started with the Grand Forks location, which had an early 1990s appearance with an orange coffee bar and front desk area. “We rebuilt the checkout and coffee bar, as well as refaced everything to transform it into a more modern convenience store,” he said.

One of the main things was to remerchandise the store to make it more shoppable. For example, the Grand Forks store had three, 20-foot selling units creating long aisles. With no tile underneath the units, a crew had to work overnight ripping out the old flooring and laying new tile. Then they replaced the longer shelving units with six four-foot and one eight-foot units on a diagonal to the front entrance. “Now customers can easily see 70% of the merchandise right when they walk in the door,” he said.

After revamping the store layout, Meyer focused his attention on the products. “Our Grand Forks location has more price-conscious shoppers, so we stock lower priced items there, and offer as many twofer deals as we can,” he said.

He trains the store managers to keep a close eye on the products and pull slow sellers every three to six months. “I also encourage the managers to discuss new items with our vendors and to not be afraid to try new products,” he

said. “That way, we’re giving customers a reason to keep coming back to see what’s new.”

Like many convenience stores today, three locations offer fresh foodservice through Cooper’s Chicken, Wingman Pizza and Hot Stuff Pizza. Grand Forks is the only store without foodservice. “It’s a small store, and we tried offering cooked food, but it didn’t sell, so we stopped,” Meyer said.

Foodservice sales at the other locations have been good, averaging $50,000 to $60,000 a month. “We know foodservice can be a great way to boost our bottom line, so I’m always checking in with our managers to make sure they have what they need to make the foodservice grow,” he said. In addition to fresh-prepared food, those stores offer grab-and-go items, too.


Because offering customers a warm and inviting experience depends more on staffing than a store’s appearance, Ewing Oil takes the time to get the right mix of workers. “We are always trying to find ways to engage potential employees,” Meyer said.

The training process builds on skills, so as employees grow in the position, the manager will give them more and more responsibility. “In this industry, we know that not all employees (especially younger staff) will stick with us for the long term, so our goal is to train them to be the best they can be for any job in the future. However, we do have quite a few longer-term employees, including several who were at the stores before Ewing Oil bought them,” he said.

“This helps with overall staff retention as the newer workers can see it’s a company worth sticking around in.”

While Ewing Oil does have plans to eventually expand with more stores, for now, Meyer is satisfied when “customers leave in a better mood than when they walked in the door.”


To Todd Meyer, operations manager for Ewing Oil, customer service tops the list of how to provide guests with a unique experience. “Our focus on customer service has done more to grow our business than fixing things up on the inside,” he said. “We really push our employees to greet everyone who walks in with a hello and smile. Great customer service is an absolute—you have to make sure you greet customers and treat them with respect, or you won’t have repeat guests.”

While the typical convenience store customer is only inside a store for a few minutes, “that’s enough time to let them know we care about them and that our employees are trying to make their experience—and their day—better,” he said. This emphasis on customer service fulfills the company tagline: Fuel your way to a great day with Ewing Oil.

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

Ideas 2 Go showcases how retailers today are operating the convenience store of tomorrow.

To see videos of the c-stores we profiled in 2022 and earlier, go to



Sometimes what is old is new again and for convenience stores, shoppers want their beloved convenience store of old (pre-2020). But at the same time, the shopper has changed, and they expect the c-store to not only change with them and meet their evolving needs but also be a step ahead of them, providing them with in novation and even more convenience, according to results of the 2022 NACS Convenience Voices survey, conducted July 10 through September 10.

“Shoppers want us how they remember us before the pandemic,” said Leroy Kelsey, NACS director of research. “They want us in stock, friendly, fast and efficient. But convenience stores need to be more to shoppers.”

That “more” includes the ability to consoli date their trips. During a time of decades-high inflation and skyrocketing prices, convenience store shoppers want to conserve their resources (gas, time) and move around less, said Kelsey. “When they do move, they’re making sure that they’re getting a lot done at every interaction and at every stop,” he said.

28 JANUARY 2023
The NACS 2022 Convenience Voices survey finds today’s c-store shopper wants the store they know and love—but better.

Convenience store shoppers not only expect their experience at a c-store to be the same as prior to the pandemic, but NACS data show those expectations are heightened. When asked why they chose to shop at a certain location, 66.7% of respondents cited a convenient location close to home, work or a sales route— in line with the 2019 survey—and 16.7% cited a modern, welcoming or well-maintained store, compared with 15.9% in 2019.

Of note, 22.6% of respondents answered speedy service and friendly staff, which was 4.7 points higher than those who answered in 2019. In the latest survey, 27.5% of respondents said that products were the reason why they stopped at a particular store, up 8.5 points from 2019.

“Shoppers want the same level of quality interaction they know and love from c-stores, but they now want these same attributes at an above average execution,” said Kelsey.

C-store shoppers are looking for the “three Rs” from convenience retailers, according to Kelsey. First, they want relevance , meaning they want the convenience store to be aligned with their needs and interests (e.g., a specific fuel, refreshment or service). Shoppers are looking for reliability with consistent execution in areas such as overall shopping experience and product availability and assortment, and they also want responsiveness . They want additional complementary products and services that enhance their experience, such as seamless checkout and in-store pickup.

FORWARD 15.9% 17.9% 19.0% 18.5% 67.1% 16.7% 22.6% 27.5% 29.9% 67.7% 0.0% 20.0% 40.0% 60.0% 80.0% Modern, welcoming or well-maintained store/lot Speed of service and friendly staff Products (merchandise, food, beverages) Price (discounts, coupons, rewards, fuel loyalty) Convenient location (close to home, work or sales route) Top 5 Reasons Why Shoppers Chose a Specific Location (2022 vs. 2019) 2022 2019 Source: 2022 NACS Convenience Voices, 2019 NACS Convenience Tracking Program

Not surprisingly, nearly twice as many shoppers in 2022 said that price was why they chose a certain store compared with 2019 (29.9% in 2022 vs. 18.5% in 2019). “Inflation is creating price sensitivity,” said Kelsey. “More shoppers are indicating they’re not buying products because they’re too expensive. Price has more of a priority.”

When shoppers were asked what about the prices made them choose to shop at a particular location, the top answer was low gasoline prices at 55.6%, up 7.5 points over 2019. However, the second answer was loyalty program rewards and discounts at 51.7%, up almost 18 points over 2019.

“More than 1 out of 2 shoppers (57.5%) were members of a convenience loyalty program in 2022, and they want an integrated loyalty program with exclusive, relevant rewards,” said Kelsey. “They want to feel understood and appreciated.”


According to the survey data, shoppers are increasingly deciding what to purchase on site, as opposed to a premeditated decision or en route to the convenience store. Nearly 20% (19.8%) of shoppers surveyed decided to purchase their products on site—up from 9.3% in 2019.

“This tells us that shoppers are looking for value and buying bigger baskets, consolidating trips and coming less often,” said Kelsey. “They are looking for deals and can be compelled to purchase unintended items with thoughtful promotion.”

The survey data show that customers are indeed visiting c-stores less often. In 2022, shoppers indicated that they are averaging 2.4 trips to convenience stores each week, which is down slightly from the average of 2.6 in 2021 and 2.7 in 2019.

When shoppers were asked what would make them shop at convenience stores more

frequently, 23.3% said a wider product selection. Kelsey said this indicates that shoppers now have higher expectations for assortment, including finding staples and essentials at a convenience store.

When asked what about the products made shoppers choose to shop at a particular convenience store, the top response was, “I can easily find what I’m looking for” at 56.9%, up nearly 7 points from 2019. The second most common response was, “The store is wellstocked” at 46.3%, also up nearly 7 points over 2019. Other top reasons included “good merchandise selection” (34.8%) and “good food prepared in store” (34.3%).

Looking at specific products that are bringing in customers, packaged beverages are key trip drivers. Among the shoppers surveyed, 18.5% indicated that packaged beverages were the most important item out of everything in their basket. In comparison, in the 2019 survey, shoppers were more likely to deem cold dispensed beverages as the most important item to buy on their visit to a c-store. Also in 2019, hot dispensed beverages were the fourth most important item that customers purchased in store, but in 2022, they were the 10th most important item.

“Shoppers shifted to packaged products during the moratorium on dispensed beverages in 2020, and dispensed beverages haven’t fully recovered,” said Kelsey, adding that the commuter still hasn’t returned to a traditional commute in many markets as remote work persists. The trip type of commuting was historically between 32% and 36% of total trips. Now, it stands at 27.0%, up from 25% the prior year.

However, prepared food is now among the top five main items that shoppers indicated purchasing in 2022, with 6.4% of customers saying prepared food was the main thing they planned to buy, up from 5.8% in 2019. “Customers are looking for great food on-thego, and retailers are leaning into foodservice with new builds to accommodate larger kitchens and renovations that emphasize food preparation and service,” said Kelsey.


Innovation has been a buzzword in the convenience retailing industry for a few years now, with experts saying innovation is what attracts new customers and builds loyalty. While this is true, and convenience stores have been innovating to meet the evolving consumer, the question now is, are those innovations paying off?

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1 9% 23 2% 39 6% 34 0% 48 1% 2 4% 36.9% 48 9% 51 7% 55 6% 0 0% 10 0% 20 0% 30 0% 40 0% 50 0% 60 0% Other Low food and merchandise prices Good sales, discounts and promotions Loyalty program rewards/discount Low gas prices What about the prices made you choose to shop at this store? 2022 2019
Shoppers want the same level of quality interaction they know and love from c-stores, but they now want these same attributes at an above average execution.”
Source: 2022 NACS Convenience Voices, 2019 NACS Convenience Tracking Program

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“Convenience retailers should be asking themselves, ‘What is the return on our innovations?’ and ‘How do we innovate during a period of uncertainty?’” said Kelsey. “As they look forward, retailers should anticipate shopper needs in 2023, as consumers get back into the swing of things, and how retailers can help shoppers get things done, keeping in mind many shoppers’ budgets have become limited.”

The survey data show that c-store shoppers are responding well to certain trends. When asked what about a certain c-store’s products made them choose to shop at that location, 44.4% cited quality fountain and frozen beverages, up 6 points over 2019. What’s more, 27.9% said quality coffee is the reason they chose to shop at a specific c-store, up 5.6 points over 2019, and 21.2% of shoppers cited the selection

of take-home items (up 4.81 points from 2019).

On the flip side, not as many customers indicated that pre-packaged food was the reason they chose to shop at a particular retailer, slipping 6.22 points in 2022 over 2019. Easing of food safety concerns during the endemic phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consistent availability of prepared food and ready-to-eat meal offerings reduced demand for sandwiches and wraps in 2021. This trend continued in 2022.

Mobile payments are also a more recent innovation that c-store customers are adopting, according to the survey. When shoppers were asked what about the checkout options made them shop at a particular c-store, more than half (51.5%) said mobile payments were the reason—the top answer. The second most popular reason was self-checkout at 44.4%.

“Speed and quick service still drive trips,” said Kelsey. “The convenience store adage of ‘we sell time’ still rings true today, especially as shoppers return to pre-pandemic habits like commuting, kids’ activities and travel.”


With the evolution of the convenience store shopper comes the entrance of new generations to the c-store shopper demographic, and Generation Z, born in 1997 through 2012, is now having a stronger influence on how c-stores cater to this evolving shopper. “A higher percentage of Gen Z is now legal in terms of the products they can consume from convenience stores, and they’re becoming

32 JANUARY 2023
0 0% 10 0% 20 0% 30 0% 40 0% 50 0% 60 0% Premeditated En Route On Site 43.6% 48.0% 36.6% 42.7% 19.8% 9.3% When did you decide to purchase your products? 2022 2019 Speed and quick service still drive trip occasions.” 0 0% 10 0% 20 0% 30 0% 40 0% 50 0% 60 0% What about the products made you choose to shop at this store? 2022 2019 50 0% 56 9% I can easily find what I'm looking for 39 3% 46 3% The store is well-stocked 38 4% 44 4% Quality fountain or frozen beverages 39 2% 37 0% Wide product selection 35 5% 34 8% Good merchandise selection 32 9% 34 3% Good food prepared in the store 22 3% 27 9% Quality coffee 25 2% 27 6% Freshness of products 32 1% 25 9% Good pre-packaged food 16 5% 15 6% Good beer/alcohol selection 12 8% 15 5% Unique or quality store brands, generic or private label 14 5% 13 8% Healthy options 21 2% Selection of take-home items 16 4% 2 9% 2 7% Other
2022 NACS Convenience Voices, 2019 NACS Convenience
Tracking Program Source: 2022 NACS Convenience
2019 NACS Convenience Tracking Program

When best-guesses just don’t cut it. Sharing growth-igniting data and insights is what we do at NACS and the NACS State of the Industry Summit is where it’s all unveiled. We’re gearing up for 2023 — and we’re moving to Dallas! Join us for two jam-packed days designed to help you understand the industry outlook and use it to your advantage.

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more independent now, as they’ve started to earn higher incomes,” said Kelsey.

When asked why shoppers decided to visit a convenience store that day, the top reason cited by Gen Z was to purchase gas or charge their vehicle (46.9%), while the top visit reason for millennials, Gen X and boomers was that they wanted something to drink now (44.9%, 44.7% and 49.2%, respectively).

Also, Gen Z is looking to the convenience store to meet their needs for indulgence. In the survey, 22.1% of Gen Z respondents said they decided to visit a c-store that day to treat themselves, compared to 19.0% of millennials, 15.7% of Gen X and 12.7% of baby boomers.

The younger generation is also more likely than other generations to use a convenience store to stock up on items, and they’re more likely to visit a c-store for fill-in trips. “Gen Z is drawn to in-store options that are affordable and offer a one-stop shopping experience,” Kelsey said. “Despite a premium for convenience, products like salty or savory snacks, candy, essentials and staples cost less due to a smaller package size. Gen Z isn’t willing to forgo the convenience of collecting these attachments while stopping in for refreshment or other products and services.”

However, loyalty across the generations was flipped, the survey found. When asked if a shopper was a member of any c-store rewards or loyalty program, 47.4% of Gen Z responded yes, compared with 58.4% of millennials, 61.9% of Gen X and 63.4% of boomers.

Convenience retailers have some work to do when it comes to relevance and alignment with Gen Z incentives. But it makes sense considering that Gen Z is the most diverse and divergent generation in terms of missions, having the highest incidence in 11 out of 15 mission types.


Convenience Voices is a NACS proprietary syndicated mobile shopper insights program. Through the capabilities of this tool, retailers and suppliers can capture and analyze critical shopper feedback on site at the retail moment of truth. Digital surveys were designed to capture customer experiences, develop a deeper understanding of their motivations and activate shopper behavior against data, and NACS is excited to partner, unlock and share these new insights with you.

Contact Leroy Kelsey, NACS research director, at lkelsey@, and visit www. for more information.

Gen Z favors fresh, sustainable, new and innovative, Kelsey says. “This up-and-coming generation is the first generation to have 24/7 access to the web and social media since birth, and this is reflected in their preference for social media as a platform to interact with convenience loyalty,” he said. They are comfortable providing feedback and reviews as part of their loyalty experience. “In fact, the convergence of offline and online information for entertainment, commerce and communication is essential. Gen Z prefers gamification, sweepstakes and the ability to leverage technology to have products delivered or pay for them digitally in person.” This is something for marketers to keep in mind as they design future loyalty programs.

Opportunities abound for convenience retailers to create a lasting impression among the heightened expectations of the convenience shopper. Seize the chance to reinforce positive new beliefs while shaping emerging habits with innovative offerings and thoughtful change. And that includes enhancements to technology, store conditions, compelling food offerings and world-class customer service. All of these will be needed to meet future growth.

Sara Counihan is contributing editor of NACS Magazine and NACS Daily. She can be reached at scounihan@

34 JANUARY 2023
Gen Z 47 4% Millennials 58.4% 61 9% Boomers 63 4% Convenience Loyalty Membership by Generation Source: 2022 NACS Convenience Voices, 2019 NACS Convenience Tracking Program
They are looking for deals and can be compelled to purchase unintended items with thoughtful promotion.”


Don Rhoads, the newly named NACS chairman, learned all about giving back by observing his dad.

As a middle school teacher and counselor, his dad, Don Sr., knew exactly which students were struggling. His father often invited several of them to stay at the Rhoads’ modest household in Kelso, Washington, over the weekend and would arrange for the group to play sandlot football games. Perhaps the best thing about those ballgames was the bike trip to the neighborhood store right afterward, where the gang would load up on penny candies—often quietly paid for by his dad and the store owner.

Time Give Back to A

36 JANUARY 2023
chairman applauds the industry for giving.

Don Rhoads in his Fruit Valley Village location shares his vision for the complex. The site has a traditional Minit Mart convenience store and fueling, plus community-focused initiatives like a food bank, credit union focused on lower-income customers, a small business resource center and a community kitchen and event space, which is made available to local charities for their fundraising events.

Photography by Tom McKenzie

“That was my first real experience at the neighborhood store,” says Rhoads, who besides his new NACS gig is also president and CEO of The Convenience Group, which is based in Vancouver, Washington, and owns and operates eight c-stores in Washington. “I’m trying to emulate that today—with the neighborhood store as a safe and caring place.”

During his next year as NACS chairman, more than anything else, Rhoads hopes this message of the c-store industry giving back to the community, to its customers and to its workers is the message that lives on as not just his own legacy, but as the entire c-store industry’s legacy.

“We as individual companies do not articulate how much we give back to our communities,” said Rhoads. In charitable giving alone, the c-store industry contributed more than $1 billion over the past year, he says. But it’s the giving that can’t necessarily be monetized—the implicit giving that’s not in cash but in time, free products or good deeds—that might be the c-store industry’s real hallmark. This has been particularly true over the past several years as the COVID crisis has ebbed and flowed and tested the industry like few challenges before it.

38 JANUARY 2023
I plan to spend much of the next year traveling to c-stores across the country thanking them for all they’re doing.”
Photography by Tom McKenzie Fruit Valley has a commissary kitchen that supplies prepared food daily to The Convenience Group’s stores—or for special events. Photography by Tom McKenzie

“I plan to spend much of the next year traveling to c-stores across the country thanking them for all they’re doing,” Rhoads said.

Indeed, there’s plenty to be thankful for. The nation’s 148,000 c-stores continue to quietly help their neighborhoods and communities— nevermind that 60% of these c-stores are not big chains but are independent, single-store operators, Rhoads points out. But they’ve plowed forward right through COVID.

So, too, has NACS as an organization. “Folks need to know it hasn’t been easy,” said Rhoads. “NACS has had to pivot and reinvent itself over the past few years for a number of reasons. NACS has made it much easier for members to navigate through this difficult time.” Among the key things NACS has been doing—and will continue to do for members over the next year, he says, is to provide “guardrails” through advocacy, retail engagement and outreach on legislative issues.

Among his NACS goals for 2023:

• Thank NACS members nationally. While it’s the board of directors—not the chair—that will set the NACS 2023 agenda, he says, “I do set the tone as chair.” So, he plans a series of road trips nationwide to personally thank c-store owner-operators big and small.

• Embrace front-line workers. “It’s critical that we tell them how much we appreciate the journey they’ve been on the past few years,” said Rhoads. Most critical for c-store owners, he says, is to provide a welcoming setting for workers, who, after they leave their homes in the morning, should feel like they are arriving at their second home when they get to work.

• Settle the credit card swipe-fee issue. Swipe fees from the big credit card companies have a $14 billion annual impact on the c-store industry. He vows to continue focusing on this and pushing for a resolution.

• Advance technology and share best practices. Rhoads recently returned from a NACS Innovation Leadership Program at MIT. “I learned so much listening to the young change agents in the room. They are transforming what this looks like,” he said.

• Outreach to smaller operators. His own chain has just eight stores—each one uniquely designed and uniquely stocked to meet the needs of its neighborhood. For a majority of NACS members who are single-store operators, he asks, “How do we better engage and come up with a process to move them into the NACS family?”

• Deal with labor challenges. Create a culture where people want to work there and respect them by offering good pay and benefits. The m inimum wage in Washington state is about to hit $16 per hour—and he says he already pays better than that at his stores. “You have to develop a workplace culture where your people don’t want to be looking for employment elsewhere,” he said. It also helps that his employees all know he has a 24/7 open-door policy.

The community kitchen and event space is the newest element of Fruit Valley Village. It opened in October 2022 and in its first event raised over $20,000 for the local Boys & Girls Club. During the COVID-19 crisis of 2020, The Convenience Group hosted a drive-thru pop-up food giveaway for the Vancouver, Washington, community. Minit Mart provides both immediate consumption foods and an extensive produce section as part of its fill-in grocery offer. The Lighthouse Resource Center has helped more than 80 local businesses with free development services.


Figuring out how to divide his time over the next year to help accomplish all of these goals—yet still oversee The Convenience Group—will not be simple. Rhoads says that he will meet NACS members on his “thank you” tour. He also will attend some domestic NACS leadership conferences, plus NACS Convenience Summit Europe in Dublin, Ireland, May 30 to June 1. Then, there’s the NACS Show in Atlanta in October. “If you do one thing, go to the NACS Show,” he said. “For the convenience industry it’s where to get inspired and rewarded. It’s like going to Disneyland.”

When he’s on the road, he’ll typically stop into a local c-store for a cup of coffee or perhaps an energy drink. But once he’s in the store, he said, “I’m like a sponge.” He soaks in everything from the store design to the merchandising to the equipment to the

employee uniforms. “If I can sneak behind the curtain and see what’s in the back, I’ll do that, too,” he said.

Rhoads has been involved in one way or another with NACS for 30 years. “It was a springboard for me to learn so much about this industry,” he said. About three decades ago he was first hired into the c-store industry to retire the debt on a 60-store chain in the Pacific Northwest. “I couldn’t imagine navigating this road map without names,” he said. That’s when he first turned to NACS for help.

During the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rhoads says he participated in more than 60 phone calls between different state associations and NACS leadership in an attempt to share best practices. He credits NACS leadership over the past several years for helping NAC members navigate extremely difficult times.

He tries to recreate this same open-door policy at his own company. Each of his individual stores has (paid) monthly phone meetings for the entire staff. The meetings focus on two key questions: 1) What’s working?

2) What’s not working? What’s not working is what he wants to know most of all. Sometimes it’s equipment that needs repair. Other times it’s shift or labor issues. He’s learned to move employees around to different stores and different posts “to give them a different perspective on store operations.”

Most recently, he’s begun hiring back older employees—as part-timers—who had retired from the industry. He currently has three such seasoned, part-time workers—two of whom are category managers in wine and beer. “The wealth of knowledge they bring is a huge benefit to us,” he said.


Rhoads’ real passion is giving back. Perhaps there’s no better example than the Minit Mart store he rebuilt—and the center he helped to build around it—in Fruit Valley, Washington. The store has been there since 1968, and he faced a tough decision about whether to tear down the struggling location—or rebuild it. He chose the latter. But that was just the beginning. Not only did he build a new store but he also created around it an additional 11,000-square-foot center with nonprofits and other tenants directly aimed at assisting local residents.

40 JANUARY 2023
You have to develop a workplace culture where your people don’t want to be looking for employment elsewhere.”
The Rivermark Community Credit Union team serves hundreds of lower-income Fruit Valley community members (top). It’s part of the Fruit Valley Village, anchored by Minit Mart (bottom).

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The new center includes a food bank and a resource center that provides counseling for business startups and other companies in need of resources. There’s also a space that was turned into a sort of experimental kitchen, which is rented out for various fundraisers.

Meanwhile, the new Minit Mart store stocks a number of grocery items—including fresh fruit and vegetables—that neighborhood residents would otherwise have a hard time finding nearby. It’s paid off. The location has enjoyed a threefold sales growth since all of the additions and changes have been made, he says.

Store employees are even encouraged to keep their eyes open for customers in need of assistance. Some customers, for example,

might be encouraged to check out the food bank next door or even offered assistance in finding a job.

“We all have been through that place in our lives where having a helping hand is a very big deal,” Rhoads said. “You never know what mental or physical problems a customer might be going through. If someone is in need of assistance, we are well positioned to help, and it’s our obligation to do so.”

This brings us back to those sandlot football games in Kelso—and all the kids from the middle school who got a small assist from the Rhoads household.

The way Rhoads figures it, the question for him, his c-store chain and the c-store industry is never whether or not to reach out to help the other guy who is struggling —it’s how.

42 JANUARY 2023
Bruce Horovitz is a freelance journalist and national media training consultant. Contact him at
We all have been through that place in our lives where having a helping hand is a very big deal.”
The Fruit Valley Village location features a convenience store and fueling as part of an 11,000-square-foot center developed to assist local residents.
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Like most growing product areas, the proliferation of new items with a wide range of benefits and claims can cause retailer and consumer confusion. What products are truly natural, organic and regenerative? What are the real benefits for consumers? Which products are performing best, and what are the most promising new products?

KeHE, as a leader within the Natural, Organic & Fresh industry, has the expertise to filter through the thousands of items and claims to provide the best possible mix, customized to a retailer’s format and consumer base, and the necessary infrastructure to get the products to retailers. Traditional convenience distributors and wholesalers typically have high levels of expertise in the conventional categories, but there are more complexities and minimum volume

requirements in the natural, specialty and fresh space. KeHE has innovated to offer flexible distribution options, including smaller order direct drop-ship capabilities and partnerships with distributors, in addition to our direct service capabilities to service convenience customers with a much wider assortment of products.


Consumers are mobile again and less tied to traditional home-to-office lifestyles. They snack throughout the day and are seeking quick, smaller format stores to grab the items they need versus the larger planned shops of a few years ago. They are also looking for new products to try in these venues, making innovation and new items critical to success. Fresh has been a major growth area across all formats, so curating convenient grab-and-go fresh items has been a focus for KeHE.

KeHE has served convenience formats for many years and is expanding our reach by partnering with new formats like Air Guitar and industry thought leaders like Kum & Go to identify the best selection of products to meet their consumers’ needs across categories. These partnerships are highly complementary as KeHE drives innovation and category growth for our retail partners and gains new avenues to bring our products to market. We have an incredible inventory that is accessible to 95% of the U.S. population, and we want to ensure that we continuously offer them interesting and healthy alternatives, regardless of where or how they shop.

44 JANUARY 2023
KeHE’s mission to serve and feed America is fueled by an obsession with natural and organic, specialty and fresh products.


Key convenience categories have their own unique dynamics when it comes to consumer trends. KeHE’s Growth Solutions team targets the special needs of each format in the segments in which they compete. Based on KeHE’s insights, we expect that several key trends will likely continue, such as high-end fresh-baked items (nuts, flavors), healthy snacking (bars and hummus) and easy entertainment (charcuterie boards). New growth will be fueled by the types of products KeHE has added to our assortment based on trends like:

• Alcohol-free/low-alcohol beverages are gaining traction. New functionality beverages like collagen and gut health, sustainable and plantbased packaging, along with unique flavors are also trending.

• Plant-based salty snacks will expand into new areas like hemp, legumes and cauliflower, as well as high-protein alternatives.

• Confections that use botanicals and brands that are socially and environmentally responsible.

• High protein and healthy fats, low carb, and low sugar (keto) bars will continue to innovate, along with fresher and refrigerated ingredients and multipack stock-up options.

• Ethical and clean ingredients in meat snacks will grow, and we will see new plant-based mushroom and soy alternatives.


KeHE has dedicated Category Management and Growth Solutions teams that not only identify market trends but also proactively source new products that address evolving consumer cravings. KeHE continuously analyzes the data on over 63,000 items we currently carry and

onboarded 18,000 new items last year through several unique programs. These include:

• KeHE TREND finder TM events where hundreds of products apply, but a select few are chosen as the best to carry and promote to our customers

• Attending farmer’s markets across the country to identify new products and emerging trends

• Our KeHE elevateTM program that helps innovative new products gain marketplace traction

• KeHE also partners with RangeMe to review new product submissions and run supplemental social media campaigns for specific category needs

KeHE strives to be the best provider of product innovation in our industry.





KeHE believes that we can use our success to be a force for good, improving the lives of our employees, communities and the planet. This makes KeHE unique in many ways. KeHE is employee-owned, so our people succeed when we do. We are a certified B Corp, voluntarily meeting higher standards for quality and transparency. KeHE also directs 10% of net profits to our KeHE Cares Foundation to support our employees, communities and those around the globe in need.

Our sales force is consistently recognized for its outstanding responsiveness and customer service. KeHE also hosts several award-winning trade shows each year to share exciting new products and innovations with our retail partners. Operationally, we continuously advance our ordering and logistics capabilities to meet the needs of our customers. We opened two state-of-the-art distribution facilities in Dallas, Texas, and Goodyear, Arizona. We also launched KeHE CONNECT Direct™ to make our entire product assortment available to our customers and better respond to smaller shipment needs.

At KeHE, we say, Where KeHE Goes, Goodness Follows.® To learn more about what KeHE can do for your business, scan our QR code.

Scan to learn more about KeHE.

This interview is brought to you by support from KeHE Distributors LLC, a NACS member. Amy Kirtland Executive Vice President, Innovation and Growth KeHE Distributors LLC
c-store foodservice pros
Shutterstock 46 JANUARY 2023
Here’s what
see as on-trend.
for 23

Jessica Williams


Food Forward Thinking LLC

Hands-On Training. Technology is a tool but not a substitute for hip-to-hip food and beverage instruction. As much as electronic job aids and checklists help store teams stay accountable and reference information anywhere, the act of SERVING our SERVICE teams with hands-on training will never go out of style.

Flagship Food . Destination-driving, differentiated items that are very specific to the identity of the brand and authentic to the location and the brand. More than anything else, I am asked to design or identify the “hero” product for brands. It’s happening more frequently every year, and I think that’s because retailers want their brands closely connected with consumers, and there is no better way to make a connection to a person’s heart than through their stomach.

Quality. No one is willing to compromise. Consumers know they are spending more money for commodities and life in general than ever before, so if retailers can elevate the quality of their experience in the taste, format, packaging, anything—It is better than just a blanket price increase. Noteworthy: Elevating quality at the same time as retail price is a great opportunity for category managers to capture back some eroded margin.

Local . Now that retailers have asked for transparency on drivers behind higher costs, so often the reasons are fuel and transportation. The doors are open wide for locally produced items like coffee, sauces, breads and commissary items to show up on convenience chain shelves because these items help tie big brands to small communities and the people who live and work there.

Getty Images NACS JANUARY 2023 47
ACS Magazine asked a handful of c-store foodservice pros what’s ahead for foodservice operations in convenience stores this year. From value to simplicity to barista-style beverages, here are some of their top predictions.

Foodservice customers will continue to focus on value, and bundling will be an increasing opportunity. We have unique opportunities to leverage bundling foodservice with go-to convenience packaged goods to leverage our unique offer mix. Foodservice operators will continue to pare down menus and try to do more with fewer ingredients.

Joseph Chiovera


Fully cooked proteins will continue to evolve in pre-portioned sizes, and you may even see sous vide enter the channel. Menu rationalization will be taken to new heights due to labor constraints. “Less will be more! Do what you do well, and do a lot more of it.” Innovation will be kept simple by utilizing existing pantry ingredients. More LTOs compared to product launches. Simplicity is on-trend and red hot.

Customers shifting back to pre-COVID routines will increase morning daypart sales. There will be pressure to increase retail prices inflation and higher labor costs. We will see increased of technology for labor shortages.

Delivery and order with pickup will be needed to compete. Hot barista-style drinks will continue to grow, while traditional c-store drip and newly added bean-to-cup coffee will remain flat to down. Cold barista-style drinks will grow

Shutterstock 48 JANUARY 2023

Jay Ellingson CHIEF

Kwik Trip

Evan Powell


In 2023, c-store foodservice market share will continue to grow, and with that, the importance of a strong food safety culture and tech-enabled traceability will grow, also.

Two of the four core elements of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety that could impact c-store operations include measuring and strengthening food safety culture and improving visibility into the food supply chain through traceability methods.

Food safety culture means food safety is ingrained in the minds of employees who work with food, and tasks that need to be complet-

ed, such as handwashing and temperature monitoring, are instead the right thing to do because they know it protects consumers. Employees are thoroughly trained on why these steps are important and supported in taking the time to complete them day-to-day. Quantifying the culture of food safety within the organization and then identifying areas for potential improvement will go a long way for risk mitigation with both food manufacturing and foodservice.

Tech-enabled traceability allows for products that may be contaminated to be more quickly removed from commerce. Regulators must be able to identify potentially unsafe product faster, trace it back to the original source, find out where it was distributed and take action—all in a timely manner. Having the supply chain digitally connected will allow for more rapid identification of these products when compared to paper recordkeeping. This is not an easy task and will take many resources to make this happen accurately from farm to fork for the industry.

C-store foodservice will continue to shine and offer value, convenience and be a major contributor to gross profit dollars.

Inflationary pressures will continue but to a much lesser degree. The new low is now 15-20% higher than 2021.

Supply Chain—there will be but not anything like we saw in 2021-22. Most suppliers have shored up labor, logistics and production, but some items will remain “spotty,” especially for specialty products, paper and plastics.

Suppliers will the “hunker down and survive” mode they have been in.

Getty Images NACS JANUARY 2023 49
50 JANUARY 2023
inaugural NACS Food Safety Conference explored ways to drive change and manage risk in c-store foodservice programs.
Seventy Four, Jairo Gonzalez, Tim UR, FloortjeGetty Images/Getty Images

For the first time, NACS put a spotlight on advancing food safety and protecting public health at the inaugural NACS Food Safety Conference, held in tandem with the 2022 NACS Show.

The event was not only an industry first, it was specific to the convenience retail channel and touched on topics that are leading change and growth in not just food safety but also foodservice overall as convenience retailers seek to differentiate themselves as go-to places for freshy prepared meals and refreshment.

Leading food safety experts addressed:

• How a company’s food safety culture can support, align and contribute to its vision and mission.

• Understanding employee behaviors and creating interventions for organizational decision-makers, professional food handlers, store-level managers and employees—the gatekeepers of safe food.

• Discovering collaborative solutions to today’s safe food-handling challenges, including supply chain issues, recalls, staffing and training.


Dr. Lone Jespersen, founder of Cultivate and food safety culture expert, shared that there is a greater need for leadership to foster a topdown food safety culture that protects and sustains the future of the business.

The 50-plus attendees learned more about the forthcoming NACS Convenience Store Food Safety Culture Maturity Model, the first and only global convenience retail industry specific model that advances food safety culture by initially focusing on the leadership level.

NACS began working with Jespersen in 2020 to create the model, which captured feedback of nearly two dozen global convenience retail companies at various stages of food safety maturity. The retailers identified common topics related to food safety, ranging from risk awareness to food safety performance, systems oversight and governance, which can be mapped to four food safety cultural dimensions:

• Values and mission

• People

• Adaptability and risk

• Systems

By segmenting culture into these dimensions, the model can help retailers understand where their food safety maturity is strong, in-between or weak. This helps strengthen culture by focusing on the opportunities instead of broadly stating, “We want to improve our culture. … Any cultural direction set by senior leaders is only valuable if it’s translated by middle managers into practices and norms for their store teams,” explained Jespersen in the July 2021 NACS Magazine feature, “Modeling a Food Safety Culture.”

For example, a strong leadership message can create energy among middle managers, but if the culture measurements show a lack of enthusiasm among the middle managers, then the leadership messaging may not be landing as intended.

Dr. Jay Ellingson, chief scientific officer at La Crosse, Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip Inc., said that food safety culture is also about managing risk. While no single company can achieve 100% risk mitigation of foodborne illness factors when selling food, “one of the best ways to minimize breakdowns in the execution of food safety policies and procedures is to have good retail practices

52 JANUARY 2023 GCShutter/Getty Images
Training and retraining are paramount to achieving active managerial control of food safety risk factors.”

ingrained in your operations and your employees,” he said.

“If coworkers understand the why behind behaviors such as handwashing, verifying temperatures, cleaning and understanding that these actions are the right thing to do to protect the consumer and prevent illness, they are more likely to be completed and completed correctly. Training and retraining are paramount to achieving active managerial control of food safety risk factors,” Ellingson said.

Employees must also feel supported from leadership to serve and sell safe food. “Our companies should be leading by example and allocating the time our coworkers need to complete these tasks, as well as provide the tools and resources they need to be safe and effective,” he said.


Dr. Ben Chapman, a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University, shared research on what the food retail industry has learned since March 2020 and how convenience retailers can best prepare for the future.

Chapman is also the project chair of FoodCoVNET, a team of academia and food retail supporters, including NACS, that leveraged existing food safety networks to collect and address SARS-CoV-2 concerns within the food industry. He presented ongoing research on virus persistence, inactivation and transfer, including a new hand-washing study that’s under peer review.

In the past five years, Chapman’s team at NC State has conducted 1,284 observations of consumer hand-washing behavior analysis that produced 2,889 hours of video coding, 25,680 minutes of recorded interviews and 6,686 hand-washing events that produced just 83 successful hand-washing events.

Hand hygiene, either by hand-washing or hand disinfection, is often cited as the most important measure to prevent disease transmission. In a unique industry like convenience, where foodservice programs can range from dispensed beverages to roller grill to commissary and food prepared on-site, “companies that produce, prepare or sell food have a role to play in advancing food safety and protecting public health,” said Ellingson.


NACS extends a special thank you to our NACS Food Safety Conference Premier sponsor, Ecosure, a division of NACS Hunter Club member Ecolab, and our General sponsor, Testo, for their dedication and expertise to advance food safety and safe foodhandling procedures and processes in the convenience retail industry. Their support contributed to the success of the inaugural NACS Food Safety Conference. Visit Ecosure at solutions and Testo at to learn more.

As c-store foodservice offers continue to evolve, the older perceptions of “gas station food” linger. Ellingson noted that a foodborne illness outbreak from a c-store could unravel the positive perceptions of foodservice programs “and would only substantiate that stigma in the minds of those who wouldn’t choose a c-store for food and impact the entire industry—not just the responsible company.”


Attendee feedback confirms that there is an industry need for another NACS Food Safety Conference. Initial plans are to have the 2023 event at the NACS Show in Atlanta, although registration will be separate for attending one or both events.

To continue dialoguing with food safety and quality assurance professionals in our industry, reach out to Chrissy Blasinsky at NACS ( ) and/or Ellingson of Kwik Trip ( jellingson@kwiktrip. com) to find out how you can get involved in conversations and rely on your industry peers as a sounding board for your company’s food safety concerns.

Chrissy Blasinsky is the content communications strategist at NACS and can be reached at cblasinsky@

54 JANUARY 2023

March 20-22, 2023

Savannah, GA

Bright Ideas. Lasting Connections.

The NACS HR Forum is a must-attend event for the leaders in our industry who recognize people are the number-one asset of successful businesses.

Over three content-filled days, the NACS HR Forum connects you with peers from around the country. With engaging, interactive presentations and case studies, the forum offers fresh solutions to the issues you face daily.

Attendees earn an average of 10 professional development credits from HRCI and SHRM.

Register today!

Cool New Products Guide

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 2021. The products featured here also can be seen in the Cool New Products Discovery Center at

Polar King

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56 JANUARY 2023



Fire Department Coffee

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New to the ready to drink coffee category is Fire Dept. Coffee’s Nitro Cold Brew collection. The cornerstones of the line, Nitro Irish Coffee and Nitro Vanilla Bean Bourbon, are the first-of-their-kind, non-alcoholic Nitro Cold Brews infused with real spirits. Since 2016, Fire Dept. Coffee has been using a proprietary spirit infusion process. The Ready to Drink collection also features two additional varieties: Nitro-Charged Latte and Nitro-Charged Shellback Espresso. Each Nitro Coffee comes in a 7-oz can and contains no artificial flavors. For more information contact

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Reese’s Snack Bar

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Named “Best Sweet Snack” by the judges of NCA Sweets & Snacks Expo Most Innovative New Products Awards! Your day just got sweeter, and nuttier. Reese’s Snack Bars are the perfect mix of crispy, crunchy, salty and sweet flavors, sure to put an extra spring in your step. These tasty treats feature peanut butter creme, crisp whole grain brown rice, crunchy roasted peanuts and smooth milk chocolate. Each 2-oz. pack comes with two bars so you can bookend your morning break with deliciousness.

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The Corner Grocery

If you’re road-tripping through south Louisiana’s sugar-cane country, you’ll find a little town, kind of an oasis, nestled in the lush green cane fields. It’s called Loreauville, and the main attraction is a convenience store that has a lot happening inside.

The Corner Grocery, as the store is called, was owned and operated by Roxie and Robert Guillotte for decades. When Robert passed away in 2019, the kids took over the store. Siblings Mandi Pooler and Chad Guillotte each had their own careers as business owners, but the store had to stay open.

“My brother was a hot-shot driver at the time, and I published the Town Planner Community Calendar,” said Mandi Pooler, co-owner. “ He’s still in the trucking business, and I still publish the Town Planner, and we both

help out here. His wife, Hallie Guillotte, handles the day-to-day operation,” Pooler explained.

When you walk into The Corner Grocery, you’ll find a hub of activity. This is a town with a population of only 700. It might be hard to reconcile the census data with the amount of people in line. You’ll see two registers going with people waiting at each one. It makes sense when you take in the eclectic inventory. There is something for everyone.

Customers can find everything from live worms to cookware to deer corn and beauty supplies. This is what convenience is all about.


The food at The Corner Grocery is a big draw. Customers can come in Monday through Friday and enjoy food like any Loreauville grandma would make. It’s one of the few places where plate lunch specials are priced under $9.

“My favorite is our chicken stew with white beans. It’s the Wednesday special. Spaghetti is the most popular plate lunch. We sell out of that,” said Pooler. “We do plate lunch five days a week, and we barbecue on Sunday,” Pooler said, adding, “We’ve been doing barbecue for over 20 years. People line up here starting at 10:30 a.m., and we run out every week.”

Customers have a lot of choices. They can choose from chicken, pork steak, brisket, rib eye steaks or sausage. There are plenty of sides like potato salad, beans and rice dressing.

sorbs the juices from a variety of meat, mostly pork and beef,” Pooler explained.

And then there are the chili dogs— The Loreauville Way—some of the best around. Made from an old family recipe, the chili is so good that when ordering, the foodservice folks ask customers: “Do you want the hot dog on it or just the chili?”

A chili dog without the dog?

“It’s a Loreauville thing,” Pooler said. “A lot of customers just want the chili on the bun, and that’s it.” The dish is so popular that customers can buy it frozen so they can stock up to enjoy it at home.

One of the benefits of operating in a small town is that c-stores can easily corner the market on some things.

“We sell a lot of pizza because we’re the only place in town that sells pizza. Our pizzas are really good. We sell Hunt Brothers by the slice, and some people call ahead and order whole pizzas. We also do breakfast pizzas along with other breakfast items. The breakfast pizzas are probably the most popular breakfast item,” said Pooler.


In this part of the world locals and road trippers want authentic Cajun staples like boudin, cracklins and hog head cheese. If you’ve not spent time in south Louisiana, then these delicacies need some explanation.

Cracklins, also known as grattons, are made daily at The Corner Grocery. Pork bellies are cut into pieces and fried in hog lard until they are crispy and golden brown.

Rice dressing? This is a South Louisiana favorite from New Orleans to the Sabine River.

“It’s often called dirty rice or Cajun rice. The rice turns a bit brown as it ab-

Boudin is a mix of pork, rice, onions and peppers cooked with Cajun spices and stuffed into a sausage casing. It’s not an exaggeration to say almost everyone in Louisiana makes boudin. Fresh is important, so it’s made here daily.

The Corner Grocery offers something extra when it comes to this—crawfish

58 JANUARY 2023
From chili dogs to live worms to beauty supplies—this is what convenience is all about.

boudin. It’s made the same way as traditional boudin, but the pork is replaced with crawfish.

Cracklins are also known by the Cajun French name grattons. Pork bellies are cut into pieces and fried in hog lard until they are crispy and golden brown. They are spicy and wildly popular. Healthy? No, but if a c-store does them well, that store can become a cracklin’ destination. The Corner Grocery is one of those destinations.

Hog head cheese is not quite as it sounds, at least in modern times. It’s a mixture of pork, onions, bell peppers and spices combined and formed into a gelatinous block. It’s great on sandwiches and crackers.


No matter how large or small the store, a social media presence is important. Prior to the pandemic, The Corner Grocery’s

social media presence was minimal.

“During COVID, I came in and started working the page. I said, ‘let’s post a picture of the plate lunch every day at 10:30.’ We noticed if we didn’t post a picture, sales might not be as good. During the pandemic we’d post pictures of hard-to-get items, and immediately you’d see people walking in the doors,” Pooler shared.


Customers can find the typical c-store merchandise here and more. Unlike urban counterparts, The Corner Grocery stocks things you can’t find in just any store.

“We sell worms. During COVID, we couldn’t keep worms. Everyone was fishing during the pandemic. We also

have a lot of fishing supplies. People stop here before going to Lake Dauterive about three miles away. We also sell ammunition and deer corn for hunters, as well as hunting and fishing licenses,” Pooler said.

The c-store recently added protein snacks since “bike riding groups stop in often and stock up on those items,” Pooler said, and “not many places around us sell those. This is sugar-cane country. A lot of sugar-cane farmers stop by and stock up on the snacks. My brother cycles, and he eats those as well.”

The Corner Grocery is one of those stores that is always there in good times and not so good ones. “We have a generator for the store. So, when hurricanes come and the power is out, we can still cook,” she said adding, “After one hurricane we had lines all the way down the aisles. We were the only place in town where you could get food. We also have an icehouse so people can get ice 24/7.”

Pooler pointed out that “They’re building a new fire station across the street. Things change but very slowly. One thing that doesn’t change is The Corner Grocery.” It’s always here for the folks.

Al Hebert is the Gas Station Gourmet, showcasing America’s hidden culinary treasures. Find him at

Store manager Hallie Guillotte shows off a sausage and gravy plate lunch—a Cajun favorite. L to R: The Corner Grocery sibling owners, Chad Guillotte and Mandi Pooler. L to R: Jennifer Broussard, Pat Case (cook) and co-owner Mandi Pooler. The Corner Grocery has served Loreauville, Louisiana, for decades.


A Fluid Staple

Got milk? For a growing number of Americans, the answer is no. Total fluid dairy milk volume across all channels dipped 2.2% in 2022 (January through September), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, retail milk dollar sales rose 11%, receiving a boost from higher prices, according to IRI.


was the gross margin for milk in 2021.

Source: NACS State of the Industry Report of 2021 Data


According to the NACS State of the Industry (SOI) Report of 2021 Data, per store, per month sales of milk increased over 2020, in part because many consumers limited trips to larger outlets like grocery stores and made short, targeted shopping runs. In 2021, monthly sales of the category mirrored those of 2020, promoting the idea that many consumers found convenience stores a great option for products like milk during the pandemic and carried over those shopping habits into the new normal. For 2022, monthly sales through the second quarter have been higher than both 2020 and 2021 for all but January.

Milk has long been a staple in many convenience stores, especially during periods of disaster or uncertainty, when many families rely on these retailers for home essentials. “Despite a decline in overall fluid milk consumption in the U.S., milk sales in convenience stores have been trending upward for the past couple of years,” said Jayme Gough, research manager, NACS.

The fluid milk category is one of the smaller ones in convenience retail, accounting for just 1.30% of in-store sales in 2021, a slight decrease from 2020. However, gross margins for milk increased in 2021 from 29.83% to 32.41%, which helped boost gross profit per store 14.4% to a total of $830 per store, per month. “From 2020 to 2021, category sales jumped 5.2% to a total of $2,562 per store, per month,” Gough said. “This indicates fluid milk continues to be an important part of a retailer’s merchandise mix, especially because people who come in to grab a gallon or half gallon of milk often pick up other items, too.”

“For dairy milk, we see a similar trend in c-stores as in the broader retail landscape—it’s a huge category but vol-

60 JANUARY 2023 somchaisom/Getty Images
The milk category in convenience stores has been trending upward.

ume trends are sluggish,” said Stephen Dean, vice president of foodservice, small format for Oatly. “People are buying less dairy milk, though they are spending more as prices have gone up.”

Milk sales have been about the same at Piedmont Milk House in Duluth, Minnesota. “The category doesn’t fluctuate much at all at my store,” said owner Andy Verhel. “It’s a convenience to have gallons, half gallons and pints of milk for our customers, especially the ones with younger kids.”

Unit sales of milk have been strong at Crosby’s, a Lorkport, New York-based chain with 86 locations in New York and Pennsylvania. “Gallons and half gallons have declined in units, but pints have been up, and the overall dollar amount for the category has increased, too,” said Lenny Smith, general manager and vice president for Crosby’s.

Boosting the category have been upticks in flavored and alternative milk sales. “The milk category has bright spots within it, such as rising sales of lactose-free milk,” said Scott Wallin, vice president of industry media relations and issues management for Dairy Management Inc.


Of the largest subcategories, flavored milk showed the most dramatic increase in per store, per month sales during both 2020 and 2021, as well as through the first half of 2022. Flavored milk represented 34.8% of category sales in 2021, according to NACS SOI data.

That tracks with sales at Crosby’s. “Our flavored milks have had positive growth,” Smith said. The stores stock cookies-and-cream, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavored milk yearround plus seasonal milks, like pumpkin, during the holidays. “The pumpkin flavored milk does surprisingly well for us,” Smith said.

At Piedmont Milk House, chocolate is the only flavored milk on hand, and it’s a customer favorite. “We have steady sales of our chocolate flavored milk,” Verhel said.

Gough sees the interest in flavored milk as a carryover from the pandemic. “While this increase might be partly explained by children being home more during the pandemic because of illness or school closures, parents also could have gotten into the habit of buying flavored milk at convenience stores and continued to purchase the beverages when out and about with their kids,” she pointed out.


As more customers choose oat, soy, almond and other milk alternatives over cow’s milk, convenience stores are giving them those options. Plant-based milk falls into the “other milk” subcategory, accounting for 6.5% of the fluid milk sales in 2021, an increase from 6.0% in 2020, according to NACS SOI data.

“Almond milk is still the lion’s share of the plant-based milks,” Dean said. “But trends are softening as prices have gone up around 15%. Oat milk continues to grow even with increased prices, as it’s still a relatively new segment and lots of people are trying it for the first time.”

While Piedmont Milk House sticks to cow’s milk, Crosby’s will be adding oat and almond milks to a new set in the fluid milk category in mid-2023. “The milk category is continually changing, and our customers are no longer only

Industry Sales

NACS JANUARY 2023 61 Phill Thornton/Getty Images
Source: NACS State of the Industry Report of 2021 Data
People are buying less dairy milk, though they are spending more as prices
2021 1.30% 2020 1.34% % of In-Store Sales 2021 $2,562 2020 $2,435 Avg. Monthly Sales/Store 2021 99.2% 2020 96.7% % of Stores Selling
have gone up.”


Sales Per Store, Per Month


2019 n 2020 n 2021 n

$6,000 $5,000 $4,000 $3,000 2022

Source: CSX LLC;

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 crapanick@convenience. org for a complimentary executive walkthrough.

interested in animal milk,” said Smith. “I think it’s important to look at the needs and wants of all of our customers, and that includes adding alternative milk products.”

Wallin pointed out that convenience stores should see growth in lactose-free milk as well. “For example, lactose-free milk has been a continuous segment of gains with a historical dollar life of 13% per year between 2017 and 2021 and a volume uptick of 12% at retail overall, according to IRI,” he said. “While this subcategory is less developed in c-stores, it is posting a very strong dollar growth (up 23.4% in 2022 through September) and volume growth, up 10.4% during the same time period.”

recent years and see the convenience industry as a whole a bit behind the curve in selling lactose-free and plant-based milks,” Smith said.


While milk is a staple, retailers could see more growth by expanding their offerings into flavored milk and alternative milk, as well as providing incentives for shoppers. For example, Crosby’s has a milk club as part of its rewards program that gives customers

Oat milk continues to grow even with increased prices, as it’s still a relatively new segment and lots of people are trying it for the first time.”

62 JANUARY 2023
tbralnina/Getty Images
Crosby’s carries three varieties of lactose-free milk and has seen a corresponding lift in unit sales of this subcategory. “We’ve definitely seen demand for lactose-free milk grow in

Subcategory Performance


Percent of Sales Avg. Sales/Store Avg. GP$/Store Gross Margin % 2020 2021 2020 2021 2020 2021 2020 2021

Flavored Milk 28.8% 34.8% $700 $891 $263 $357 37.62% 40.13%

Whole Milk 22.9% 21.0% $557 $538 $141 $137 25.36% 25.46%

2% Milk 21.7% 19.5% $528 $501 $130 $139 24.61% 27.70%

1% Milk 10.3% 9.2% $251 $236 $70 $72 28.00% 30.62%

Other Milk Products 6.0% 6.5% $147 $167 $44 $51 29.90% 30.67%

Skim/Nonfat & 1/2% Milk 5.7% 4.6% $140 $117 $26 $23 18.57% 19.45%


Cream/Creamer Products 4.6% 4.4% $112 $113 $51 $51 46.02% 45.37%

Total 100.0% 100.0% $2,435 $2,562 $726 $830 29.83% 32.41%

every 10 th half gallon free. “Our milk club has been growing steadily,” Smith said.

Crosby’s also runs specials on milk, such as a two-for-three gallon promotion that boosted sales. “We’re very aware of how our fluid milk units are doing each week, given the competition from dollar stores and other outlets,” Smith said. “Since we’re in so many

rural areas, we want to stay competitive with our fresh milk category through our merchandise mix, occasional specials and milk club.”

Fluid milk will remain an important category for small format stores like convenience. “We’ll likely see consumers continue to migrate toward plantbased milks, especially as operators seek to attract more millennials and

Gen Z shoppers, who buy a lot more plant-based products than prior generations,” Dean said.

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



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Cash Depot 3 (800) 776-8834

CHS Inc. (Cenex) 7


Ganymede Technologies Corp dba J3POS 53 (888) 600-5522

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

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The Hershey Company

Liggett Vector Brands Inc. (Montego) Inside Back Cover (877) 415-4100

Conexxus 2023 Annual Conference 43

NACS Convenience Summit Asia 41

NACS Day on the Hill 15

NACS Foundation 4

NACS Human Resources Forum 55

NACS State of the Industry Summit 33

Polar King International Inc. 13 (866) 576-7645

Premier Manufacturing Inc. 5 & 31

Ready Training Online 25

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


Information Page Contact Information Page Contact Information Page
Guide 56-57
Source: NACS State of the Industry Report of 2021 Data

Generation Search

Different generations search for convenience stores in markedly different ways, according to the annual NACS Convenience Voices study, conducted July to September 2022. Overall, 21.1% of shoppers surveyed used a digital device to find the location they were currently shopping. That is up from 18.7% in the 2021 study.

Broken out by generation, Gen Z and millennial shoppers both indexed over the average, with 28.2% of Gen Z and 23.5% of millennial shoppers using digital search. The survey results show a prominent trend line across generations— younger generations are more likely to use digital search.

Breaking down digital search by device also shows generational trends. For all generations, a mobile device was the predominant search platform at 78.9%. Boomers were more likely than the other age groups to search via mobile

device at 90.0%, followed by millennials at 82.7%. Besides a mobile phone, boomers also were more likely to use a laptop for search than any other generation. Both Gen X and Gen Z over-indexed all shoppers in search via a car navigation system, 12.2% and 11.7%, respectively, while Gen X shoppers were more like than any other generation to use a tablet for search.

Showing up in search where and when your customers are looking is a critical component of digital marketing in convenience. NACS has developed a solution called THRIVR to assist convenience retailers in honing in their digital presence to maximize how they show up online. Designed especially for c-stores, THRIVR is an integrated social media, reputation and listings management solution that helps you gain new customers, retain the ones you have and build basket size. To learn more, visit

28.2% 7.5% 21.1% NACS Convenience Voices is packed with valuable, proprietary insights you can only get from NACS. Leveraging the ubiquity of mobile technology enables more precise targeting, expanded geographic reporting, powerful multimedia feedback and more. Visit to learn how to participate. 23.5% 17.0% 64 JANUARY 2023 11.7% 1.8% Gen Z 8.6% 2.5% Millennials 12.2% 69.7% 3.8% 10.1% Gen X 0.0% 0.0% Boomers 9.9% 3.8% All Shoppers HOW C-STORE SHOPPERS USE DIGITAL SEARCH Digital Device Used to Search Voice-activated onboard car navigation system Car navigation system Mobile Phone Tablet Laptop Desktop 90.0% 10% 1.9% 82.7% 3.8% 77.9% 2.8% 3.0% 78.9% 2.5% 2.8% Brandon Laufenberg/Getty Images