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CStoreDecisions Solutions for Convenience Retailers




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Developing C-Store Menus


Building Loyalty Has Its Own Rewards 92 October 2019

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CONTENTS october 2019

Number 10

Volume 30





8 Why Your Marketing Matters


10 Front End Profile: Dash In Bolsters Menus, Community Appeal 18 Quick Bites 20 Industry News 22 Convenience Store Solutions: Mergers and Acquisitions Affect Store Employees

24 NAG Honors Gus Olympidis at 2019 Awards Ceremony CATEGORY MANAGEMENT

40 Finding Candy’s Sweet Spot 44 A Shifting Landscape for Cigarettes 52 E-Cigs Face Turbulence Ahead 56 Besting the HBA Competition 62 Legal Cannabis Set to Disrupt Consumer Goods FOODSERVICE

68 Developing C-Store Menus 78 C-Store Bakeries Impress With Local and Fresh 84 Packaging Packs a Punch 88 Beyond Taco Tuesday


92 Building Loyalty Has Its Own Rewards 100 Getting Flexible With Prepaid Cards 104 Security Snapshot

COVER STORY 26 Revitalizing Refuel

Refuel plans rapid expansion through acquisitions and a $50 million investment in new builds as it refreshes sites to compete in a burgeoning South Carolina market.


106 Fine-Tuning Store Designs 112 Acquisition Financing With a Hand From Uncle Sam 116 Is a Car Wash Right for Your Site? 122 Attracting Hispanic Consumers


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BACK END 126 Convenience Directions 135 Product Showcase 145 Ad Index 146 Technology is Changing the Customer Experience

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the CSD Group

CStoreDecisions .com CStoreDecisions CStoreDecisions

Convenience Store Decisions



Convenience Store Decisions • EDITORIAL






EXECUTIVE EDITOR Erin Del Conte SENIOR EDITOR Thomas Mulloy ASSOCIATE EDITOR Isabelle Gustafson ASSOCIATE EDITOR Howard Riell ASSOCIATE EDITOR Marilyn Odesser-Torpey CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Mark Battersby Anne Baye Ericksen Brad Perkins Lisa White COLUMNISTS Jim Callahan Julie Heseman Sylvia Klinger Shane MacGill John Matthews


(216) 533-9186

PUBLISHER John Petersen


Leading Through Innovation

CStore Decisions is a three-time winner of the Neal Award, the American Business Press’s highest recognition of editorial excellence.



(773) 859-1107


Jim Callahan, Director of Marketing (Retired) Geo. H. Green Oil Inc. • Fairburn, Ga.



Bill Kent, President and CEO The Kent Cos. Inc. • Midland, Texas

REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Patrick McIntyre (216) 372-8112


(216) 346-8790


(737) 615-8452

REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Jake Bechtel (216) 299-2281



Robert Buhler, President and CEO Open Pantry Food Marts • Pleasant Prairie, Wis.

Greg Lorance, Dispensed Category Manager Cumberland Farms • Framingham, Mass. Billy Milam, President RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. • Atlanta


Patrick J. Lewis, Managing Partner Oasis Stop ‘N Go • Twin Falls, Idaho




Doug Galli, Board Chairman Reid Stores Inc./Crosby’s • Brockport, N.Y.


Mary Banmiller, Director of Retail Operations Warrenton Oil Inc. • Truesdale, Mo. Greg Ehrlich, Chief Operating Officer Beck Suppliers Inc. • Fremont, Ohio Derek Gaskins, Senior VP, Merchandising/Procurement Yesway • Des Moines, Iowa Joe Hamza, Chief Operating Officer Nouria Energy Corp • Worcester, Mass.


Brent Mouton, President and CEO Hit-N-Run Food Stores • Lafayette, La. Peter Tamburro, General Manager Clifford Fuel Co. • Utica, N.Y. Vernon Young, President and CEO Young Oil Co. • Piedmont, Ala.

YOUNG EXECUTIVES ORGANIZATION (YEO) BOARD Jeremie Myhren, Board Chairman Road Ranger • Rockford, Ill.


Garet Bishop, Chief Financial Officer BFS Cos. • Morgantown, W.Va. Caroline Filchak, Director, Wholesale Ops Clipper Petroleum • Flowery Branch, Ga.

WTWH MEDIA, LLC 1111 Superior Ave., 26th Floor, Cleveland, OH 44114 • Ph: (888) 543-2447 EDITORIAL AND NAG 1420 Queen Anne Rd., Suite 4, Teaneck, NJ 07666 • Ph: (201) 321-5642

Scott Zaremba, President and CEO Zarco USA • Lawrence, Kansas

2011 - 2019

SUBSCRIPTION INQUIRIES To enter, change or cancel a subscription, please e-mail requests to: or Mail: CStore Decisions, 1111 Superior Ave., 26th Floor, Cleveland, OH 44114 Copyright 2019, WTWH Media, LLC

CStore Decisions (ISSN 1054-7797) is published monthly by WTWH Media, LLC., 1111 Superior Ave., Suite 2600, Cleveland, OH 44114, for petroleum company and convenience store operators, owners, managers. Qualified U.S. subscribers receive CStore Decisions at no charge. For others, the cost is $80 a year in the U.S. and Possessions, $95 in Canada, and $150 in all other countries. Single copies are available at $9 each in the U.S. and Possessions, $10 each in Canada and $13 in all other countries. Periodicals postage paid at Cleveland, OH, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to CStore Decisions, 1111 Superior Avenue, 26th Floor, Cleveland, OH 44114. GST #R126431964, Canadian Publication Sales Agreement No: #40026880.

Kalen Frese, Food Service Director Warrenton Oil Inc. • Warrenton, Mo. Alex Garoutte, Director of Marketing The Kent Cos. Inc. • Midland, Texas Sharif Jamal, Corporate Training Manager Chestnut Petroleum Inc. • New Paltz, N.Y. Lindsay Lyden, Vice President, Development True North Energy • Brecksville, Ohio Stacey Davis, Manager of Marketing Clifford Fuel Co. Inc. • Marcy, N.Y.

CSTORE DECISIONS does not endorse any products, programs or services of advertisers or editorial contributors. Copyright© 2019 by WTWH Media, LLC. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Circulation audited by Business Publications Audit of Circulation, Inc.



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Editor’s Memo

For any questions about this issue or suggestions for future issues, please contact me at

Why Your Marketing Matters Whether or not you realize it, your brand is tremendously important to every aspect of your business. A well-crafted and well-executed brand strategy can articulate your promise to customers, set you apart from the competition and establish you as a leader in the convenience channel. Yet, many companies underestimate and neglect their brand. Even those who think they know their brand inside and out often have big misconceptions or serious flaws in their strategy. In fact, suppose you ask your frontline employees today, “What values does our brand represent?” How sure are you that their answers would be consistent? Misunderstanding brand leads to costly mistakes, according to Lindsay Pedersen, author of “Forging an Ironclad Brand: A Leader’s Guide.” Your brand values should guide every decision you make. Forging what she calls an ‘ironclad brand’ lets you connect on a personal level with customers, which is important to younger generations. On the other hand, a poorly crafted and executed brand position can seriously cost you. Pedersen offered five common branding mistakes companies must avoid.

The most common business pitfall is choosing a positioning idea that is not ownable and differentiated. You don’t claim your brand position. Instead, you let the market do it for you. Position happens whether or not you are driving it. If you allow yourself to be positioned by the market, it most likely will not be your optimal brand position for growth. The No. 1 mistake is to underestimate the importance of brand positioning by not intentionally claiming your brand position. You fail to get the customer’s attention. Customers can engage with your business only when they know it exists. You must make it easy for them to notice you. The solution is to speak with bracing clarity, which most businesses fail to do. Be crystal clear about what your business is and why that matters to customers.


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October 2019

You focus on the category benefit of your product. The most common business pitfall is choosing a positioning idea that is not ownable and differentiated. For example, many retail businesses pin their company’s brand message on other products’ brands, a benefit that is not only not unique to the market, but is a must-have for all other retailers in the space. Pedersen believes you can greatly increase sales by instead focusing on your brand message. If you sell potato chips, avoid relying on any one brand of potato chip. Instead, focus on something that only your stores can bring to the potato chip experience. Identify the things you are particularly good at, such as the best prices, the most convenient locations or the friendliest service. Then partner that message with all of the products you are selling. You over-emphasize the vastness of your brand. Many people misunderstand brand because a lot of different components and tactics make up brand. It includes logos, social media and even the color of employees’ uniforms. But none of these are, by themselves, brand. “Brand is the interconnected web of what your business means and how you deliver that meaning,” Pedersen said. You try to reach all customers with one-sizefits-all messaging. There are five stages of a customer’s journey with your brand: Unaware, Aware, Consider, Purchase and Loyal. Your goal should be to craft a messaging hierarchy for customers at every stage. There is no one message that will connect with customers in each stage. Pedersen said it’s a mistake to mix messages — it will only confuse customers. “It’s never too late to brush up on brand strategies and start making better choices for your business,” Pedersen said.

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Dash In Bolsters Menus, Community Appeal As Dash In opens new locations, the company continues to give back to its communities and update its proprietary foodservice offerings to include new trends and customer favorites. Isabelle Gustafson • Associate Editor

As La Plata, Md.-based Dash In nears 60 locations throughout Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, the company is “rapidly expanding, with a focus on a number of locations across the Mid-Atlantic region.” Currently, 17 Dash In locations feature the company’s new “neighborhood stores” concept. These updated stores include an open kitchen in the center and a wide variety of made-to-order, fresh and grab-and-go items. “All of these neighborhood store elements are informed by our commitment to deliver fresh, quality food and a personal experience to our customers every time,” said Darleen Nascimento, director of brand marketing at Dash In, adding that expansion of the menu is a top priority for the company. Each neighborhood store includes specific elements and food and beverage selections to reflect the community. Offerings also vary based on the size of the store. 10


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Currently, 17 Dash In locations feature the company’s new “neighborhood stores” concept. These updated stores include an open kitchen in the center and a wide variety of made-toorder, fresh and grab-and-go items.

The average Dash In store measures more than 3,000 square feet, with 12 to 18 fueling positions. Many of the stores feature Dash In’s car wash brand, Splash In ECO Car Wash. The Dash In neighborhood store in Midlothian, Va., for example, is 5,600 square feet with 16 fueling positions. It includes an expansive beer and wine selection — with craft beer offered through a draft growler and crowler program.

PROPRIETARY FOODSERVICE With the neighborhood stores, Dash In has been “constantly working to innovate and bring new products and offerings,” said Nascimento. All Dash In stores feature “quick bites,” such as breakfast sandwiches, sliders, pizza and wings. But select locations also offer “food market” items, including subs, quesadillas, wraps and salads. Dash In’s Chesterfield County location in Midlothian, Va. , features a growler/ crowler program. There are eight beers on tap, primarily from local breweries. 12


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From left: Dash In’s BLTM , made with crispy center-cut bacon, lettuce, tomato and fresh mozzarella on Texas Toast; the Cranberry Chicken Salad Sandwich; and the Roasted Garlic and Pamesean Wings.

“When adding new menu items, we review the current menu to determine if there are any gaps in terms of flavor profiles or styles and crossreference those against emerging trends. Then we review how new dishes can be created from components that we currently source,” said Nascimento. “The wants of the customer and the need for executional ease for our employees are always top of mind. ...” In June, Dash In debuted the

French Dip Sub, which features U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prime shaved steak, provolone cheese, caramelized onions, brown gravy and black pepper mayo on an Italian roll. “We have found and continue to find that there is high demand for fresh, delicious sandwiches,” said Nascimento. Dash In also debuted its “fresh bowl” concept. The Fresh Bowl Chicken Salad is an all-white chicken salad tossed with dried cranberries,

red onion, a hint of lime and a croissant on top of fresh romaine lettuce. The Fresh Bowl Tuna Salad features albacore tuna, red onions and hard-boiled eggs blended together on top of fresh romaine lettuce and tomatoes. Additional new menu items include the BLTM — crispy, centercut bacon, lettuce, tomato and fresh mozzarella on Texas Toast — and the Poutine Meatball Sub — meatballs tossed with brown gravy, cheddar cheese curds, Monterey Jack cheese and black

Dash In’s new French Dip Sub features USDA prime shaved steak, provolone cheese, caramelized onions, brown gravy and black pepper mayo on an Italian roll.



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October 2019

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The average Dash In store measures more than 3,000 square feet, with 12 to 18 fueling positions. Many of the stores feature Dash In’s car wash brand, Splash In ECO Car Wash.

pepper mayo on a garlic butter roll. Nascimento said Dash In pays close attention to consumer trends. “We’ve found that Asian and Latin American flavors and styles are trending,” she said. “To capitalize upon this trend, we recently launched a Thai Chicken Wrap that has been a hit with customers.” The wrap is made with diced, antibiotic-free chicken tenders, romaine lettuce, red onion, sliced cucumber, almond flakes and sesame dressing wrapped in a flour tortilla. Also well received by customers, she said, is the quesadilla line,

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT In addition to a commitment to quality foodservice, Dash In goes above and beyond to serve the communities in which it operates. Dash In’s parent company, The Wills Group, has three primary initiatives: Community Engagement, Eliminating Childhood Hunger and Ensuring Safe and Healthy Homes.

which includes four offerings: Chicken Bacon Ranch Quesadilla; Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla; Bacon, Egg and Cheese Quesadilla; and Sausage, Egg and Cheese Quesadilla.

Dash In is committed to being a good community partner, and for us, that means helping our communities thrive.

Over the past 10 years, The Wills Group has donated nearly $3 million to communities across Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Employees can take paid time off to volunteer in their communities, and they’re eligible to receive a corporate charitable match for personal contributions they make to nonprofit organizations. Over the past year, employees volunteered at the Maryland Food Bank and the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C. Dash In’s in-store pilot in September 2018 with No Kid Hungry, which provides nutritious meals to children, enabled Dash In customers to give back as well. “Dash In is committed to being a good community partner,” said Nascimento, “and for us, that means helping our communities thrive. …”

- Darleen Nascimento, director of brand marketing at Dash In



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Most consumers buy something they had planned on, but nearly half buy something on impulse. Shoppers can and do change their minds once in-store, highlighting the importance of marketing everywhere – outside the store, but also POS materials and in-store signage.


93% bought what they planned

49% bought something they had not planned to buy before entering the store

Source: Datassential, “Datassential Keynote Report: Supermarket Prepared Foods,” August 2019


47% Source: “Embracing Modern Convenience,” December 2018, NACS Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council, The Hartman Group

I choose a c-store based on location.

I visit a particular c-store because of the low gas prices.




Social media ads with pictures


Millennials Social media ads with videos

Age 39+

I visit a particular c-store because of its loyalty program’s rewards, savings and offers.

I visit a particular c-store because of the ease of entering and/or leaving the premises

Search engine ads Display ads that appear on websites


Native ads

(e.g. sponsored articles)


I visit a particular c-store because it offers a variety of packaged goods and snacks. Source: PDI, “C-Store Shopper Report: How to Fuel Customer Loyalty,” 2019

I don’t engage with online ads Source: Clever Real Estate, “Marketing to Millennials in 2019,” Infogram










In the past four years, the use of cash for transactions under $20 has dropped from 46% to 37%, and in 2019, 50% of consumers use their card for a purchase of as little as $4.50, like a latte. Source: Harvard Business Review, “Is the U.S. on Its Way to Becoming a Cashless Society?”

Source: Embracing Modern Convenience, December 2018



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9/11/19 8:42 AM

FRONT END Industry News Parkland USA to Acquire Tropic Oil

True North Energy Acquires Schmuckal Oil

Brecksville, Ohio-based True North Energy LLC, a joint venture between the Lyden family and Shell Oil Co., purchased the 25 convenience retailing and petroleum marketing assets from Schmuckal Oil Co. and its affiliates in the Traverse City, Mich., market. The transaction also includes Schmuckal’s wholesale fuel and transportation businesses. The newly-acquired stores will continue to fly or be converted to the Shell Fuel Brand.

Love’s Adds Dog Parks to Travel Stops Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores now has more than 60 dog parks, with an additional 90 under construction. Love’s opened its first dog park in late summer of 2018. The company decided to add a dog park to each new location and retrofit older locations due to high demand from customers. “As more and more professional drivers take their four-legged friends with them on the road, we’ve seen great use of our dog parks,” said Lance Schmidt, Love’s director of facilities maintenance.

Parkland USA will acquire Miamibased Tropic Oil Co. Inc. Tropic Oil transports, distributes and markets a full range of fuels, lubricants and equipment to the marine, automotive, trucking and aviation industries. Tropic Oil operates and supplies nine cardlock facilities, three bulk storage plants, 200,000 square feet of warehouse space, two dedicated rail spurs and 80 trucks throughout central and south Florida. Tropic Oil will retain its name and its brand and will operate under Parkland USA, a division of Parkland comprising several of Parkland’s wholly-owned subsidiaries. At press time, the acquisition was expected to close on or around Oct. 1.

KKC Celebrates 30th Anniversary with New Logo

2019 is the 30th Anniversary of Krispy Krunchy Chicken (KKC), and the company has unveiled a more modern, reinvigorated logo to mark the occasion. “Our new logo represents the next evolution of our company as we pivot to a more consumerfocused marketing brand,” said Neal Onebane, founder of KKC. “This logo redesign will serve as the launchpad for a variety of new programs designed to take advantage of the number of stores we have and the geographic size of our brand footprint.” In other news for the brand, through the Krunch for A Cure program, KKC donated 100% of its corporate profits from the sale of the Krispy Krunchy Chicken Sandwich in more than 2,400 of its locations to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through June 28. The money goes directly to fund research, help families and save lives, and is the largest partnership in the history of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Juul Announces Aggressive New Measures to Reduce Underage Use

Juul Labs Inc. is implementing a series of new measures in the U.S. to build upon its efforts to combat the issue of youth access, appeal and use of vapor products. Juul said: “Through shared effort, we can significantly reduce youth access to, and use of, all vapor products, including JUUL products, while at the same time ensuring that adult smokers maintain access to a product that is helping millions of them switch from combustible cigarettes — a goal we all share.” 20


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©P&G 2019

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Convenience Store Solutions

MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS AFFECT STORE EMPLOYEES While expansion is important for surviving in the competitive convenience store industry, remember to communicate with employees how important they are to operations. Jim Callahan • Contributing Editor Merger and acquisition activity continues to dominate industry headlines as larger companies with deeper pockets pay, and in some cases overpay, for smaller companies. There are many questions we can ask about the current situation, but none is more important than, “What impact is this having on employees?” It’s hard enough to get employees. Is acquisition activity hurting our best employees? It’s a fair question. The honest truth is that buyouts, mergers and takeovers have been going on for as long as there have been business ventures. Here, though, is a living example that illustrates best why business owners are willing to take risks to get the biggest rewards. In 1924, movie mogul Marcus Loew bought out Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures and Louis B. Mayer Pictures to form MGM. He paid a combined total of $8 million to form the motion picture conglomerate, which is worth about $108 million in today’s dollars. In 2004, Sony came in and purchased MGM for more than $5 billion. The deal could have easily failed, but instead, leadership and vision helped create a highly successful company. There is a lot of money floating around our industry now. That enormous $5 billion deal in 2004 is trivialized when you consider that $4.6 trillion was spent on acquisi22

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tions in the U.S. last year alone. Acquisitions help companies gain efficiencies. As a result, some employees will lose their positions due to redundancies, especially in areas like payroll, human resources and IT. Plus, areas like payroll at the acquiring company can often gain efficiencies and save lots of money by combining payroll into one central location. It’s hard not to see the logic in wanting to get bigger. REMEMBERING THE FRONT LINE

While some office and management positions might be reduced or eliminated, these employees often receive a generous compensation package. Not always, but the good companies are careful to take care of their people. At the very least, compensation should be enough to bridge an employment gap. In the case of c-stores, the storelevel staff must be a priority. All the employees who work in the stores should be able to keep their jobs because each location has to have a certain number of employees to serve its customers in a prompt, friendly and professional manner. This should be communicated to store teams early and often so they don’t leave ownership uncertainty for the first competitor that comes offering a signing bonus. While good companies love growth, understand that good com-

October 2019

panies also like to promote from within. They also like building and acquiring new stores, so they can’t afford to lose good people. Company acquisitions could actually mean new opportunities for your store staff to get promoted to manager, district manager and regional manager positions, but you have to remember to communicate this. Another key point you want to communicate is that things will change, but emphasize that they will change for the better. Some company leaders insist on saying, “Nothing is going to change!” Here’s a hint: No one believes that, especially frontline employees. Everyone knows a lot is going to change, especially after a company spends millions or billions of dollars to acquire a new business. Chances are, most of those changes have merit. Understand that the quicker and better you adapt, the more likely the company is to succeed. Embrace the changes, and take advantage of this opportunity to improve. Just remember to communicate with the team so you don’t lose your best employees. Jim Callahan has more than 40 years of experience as a c-store and petroleum marketer. His Convenience Store Solutions blog appears on CStoreDecisions. com. He can be reached at (678) 485-4773 or via email at

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! W E N Cattlewoman


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NAG Honors Gus Olympidis

at 2019 Awards Ceremony Olympidis’ legacy will be his hard work, his commitment to doing things the right way and always making himself available to help others succeed. Isabelle Gustafson • Associate Editor

From left, Gus Olympidis, president of Family Express, his wife Beth Olympidis and John Lofstock, NAG Executive Director.

YEO, his leadership and, most importantGus Olympidis, president of Valparaiso, Ind.-based Family ly, his friendship,” said Lofstock. “That’s Express, received the 2019 NAG Lifetime Award for why we are so honored to recognize Gus Convenience Retailing during an awards dinner on the Tuesday this evening with this prestigious night of the National Advisory Group (NAG) conference, NAG Award.” held this year in Minneapolis, Sept. 8-11. Family Express continues to push Olympidis is being honored for his legacy of the boundaries of innovation for a mid-sized, familyleadership, vision, friendship and philanthropy in the owned c-store chain. In 2010, Family Express opened convenience store industry. its own 150,000-square-foot distribution center. Just While the industry has changed dramatically since three years later, it added a central bakery, where Family Express was founded on Christmas Day in today it produces thousands of pastries that are 1975, Olympidis never wavered in his commitment to delivered to its convenience stores daily. excellence and his compassion for people. Aside from operations, Family Express is a peopleJohn Lofstock, executive director of NAG, focused company. It adheres to the”living brand” conpresented the award. cept, which fosters a strong retail culture and promises “Gus is truly a special individual,” said Lofstock. “I customers an outstanding experience every time they have known him professionally for more than 20 years. come in contact with the Family Express brand. I was impressed then with his honesty and willingness While Family Express has an outstanding operation to share his industry knowledge. As I learned more and has earned the respect of all who have come in about him personally, I was even more impressed. contact with the brand, Olympidis’ legacy will be his Whether it was spending the day touring stores, havhard work, his commitment to doing things the right ing dinner at his home or firing automatic weapons way and always making himself available to help othinto a pond in his backyard, Gus is passionate about ers succeed, Lofstock said. sharing and treating others with respect.” “I can’t tell you how honored I am, from the bottom Much of tomorrow’s success depends on our ability of my heart. This recognition is coming about in a parto groom next-generation leaders, Lofstock said. The ticular juncture in my life where your resume begins to mission of NAG’s Young Executives Organization (YEO) sound a little bit like an obituary, and it’s kind of cool,” is to cultivate young talent in the convenience store said Olympidis. “I want to tell you, I’m more comfortindustry. When relaunching YEO, Olympidis was an able delivering accolades than I am receiving them.” enthusiastic supporter. He recommended holding the He recognized his “partner of a lifetime” and wife event on location at Family Express so attendees could Beth Olympidis. He added, “Thank you to the CStore view its operations and interact with executives. Decisions team for caring about those who define the “We will always be grateful for his belief in NAG and future of this industry.” 24

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Join the conversation:

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Refuel plans rapid expansion through acquisitions and a $50 million investment in new builds as it refreshes sites to compete in a burgeoning South Carolina market. Erin Del Conte • Executive Editor

Refuel convenience stores burst into the spotlight this past May when it closed two acquisitions alongside its private equity sponsor, First Reserve, immediately increasing its store count more than sixfold — from five to 33 c-stores — with the acquisitions of Hartsville, S.C.-based West Oil and Bishopville, S.C.-based Bishopville Petroleum. The Mt. Pleasant, S.C.-based chain has been pursuing an ambitious growth trajectory ever since that includes reimaging and updating acquired sites to the Refuel brand. Refuel is now investing $50 million in new-to-industry c-stores throughout the Charleston, S.C. market. All the while, it’s thundering aggressively toward its goal of becoming a 100-plus store chain in less than two years through acquisitions and new builds. As it grows, it’s updating its foodservice offering to include bean-tocup coffee and Refuel’s proprietary fried chicken program; rolling out a new smartphone app that includes loyalty and mobile payment; and expanding its car wash business. PAVING THE WAY

Mark Jordan founded and incorporated Refuel Inc. in 2008. Jordan, a c-store veteran, had been developing and operating c-stores dating back to 1999. He’d divested his first c-store business to Cary, N.C.-based The Pantry in 2004, then developed build-to-suit properties for 26


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Travis Smith, chief administrative officer, Refuel, and Mark Jordan, CEO, Refuel.


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The Pantry in the Charleston market. When his non-compete agreement with The Pantry expired in 2008, he was ready to jump back into the business. “I missed the c-store business,” Jordan said. “I looked at it and thought, you know, I think I can do this better and better.” Jordan opened his first Refuel convenience store in the Charleston market in Goose Creek, S.C., including a proprietary fried chicken foodservice program. Jordan’s time away from the business had given him a chance to reflect. “I toured many stores that I admired across the country, and I read a lot of annual reports. I started thinking a lot about what Refuel might look like,” he said. Jordan met Travis Smith, now chief administrative officer and general counsel of Refuel, in early 2016. A lawyer, Smith worked with Corpus Christi, Texas-based Susser Holdings, where he was involved with ground-up development and mergers and acquisitions. The two met following the sale of Susser to Energy Transfer Partners (Sunoco) in 2014. Jordan and Smith recognized a shared vision and an opportunity to grow the Refuel brand. “We think the same way,” Smith said. “We like the same kind of things. We decided, look, there’s an opportunity here for a roll-up, acquisition-type deal, and we just started talking about it.” After due diligence in confirming opportunities in the private equity markets and the viability of their vision, the two formalized their partnership, and Smith resigned from Sunoco in 2016.

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I missed the c-store business. I looked at it and thought, you know, I think I can do this better and better. - Mark Jordan, CEO, Refuel Inc.

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Refuel’s business model includes only purchasing locations that fit its protype, meaning top-quality, large and highly trafficked stores “capable of competing into the future.”

Investment bankers, who were assisting Refuel with raising capital, introduced Smith and Jordan to private equity firm First Reserve. In April 2018, Refuel formerly partnered with First Reserve to jointly pursue a strategy to grow via acquisitions in the c-store industry.

It was First Reserve’s first investment in the c-store sector, “but they had evaluated several recent investment opportunities, and we were aligned on the thesis,” Smith said. By now, Refuel had grown from a single-store operation to a fivestore chain of top-quartile stores and was ready to begin acquiring

Refuel at a glance Headquarters: Mt. Pleasant, S.C.

Store Count: 33 locations currently, with 10 new builds scheduled in South Carolina Car washes: Four, with three under construction Foodservice: A proprietary fried chicken and proprietary pizza offering, and new bean-to-cup coffee offering Recent acquisitions: 26 stores from Hartsville, S.C.-based West Oil, two stores and a wholesale fuel distribution and transportation business from Bishopville, S.C.based Bishopville Petroleum Growth Plans: To grow to 100+ stores in less than two years through acquisitions and new builds Management: Mark Jordan, CEO, Refuel Travis Smith, chief administration officer, Refuel John Rier, chief financial officer, Refuel Green DesChamps, director, wholesale fuel distribution division 30


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locations. In late 2018, Refuel set its sights on acquiring West Oil. “I knew the stores well,” Jordan said. “I knew the reputation of the company, and it was a company we admired so much that we were excited to have the chance to buy them.” Refuel’s business model includes only purchasing locations that fit its protype, meaning topquality, large and highly trafficked stores “capable of competing into the future.” “West Oil was a very well-run company, and we were fortunate to be successful in acquiring them,” Jordan said. West Oil’s 26 c-stores were situated near Hartsville, S.C., and Florence, S.C., roughly two hours from Charleston off I-95. “It was quickly apparent that it would be an ideal acquisition to combine with the Refuel assets and formally establish our platform with First Reserve,” Smith said. On May 1, 2019, First Reserve simultaneously acquired the West Oil assets while rolling legacy Refuel into the newly established Refuel platform. Jordan and Smith noted it was more efficient to line up

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both acquisitions to close simultaneously, establishing sufficient scale. Importantly, Jordan rolled 100% of his equity into the newly established platform alongside First Reserve, demonstrating his commitment to grow and build the platform that he established in 2008. With First Reserve, Refuel now has the financial backing to acquire and develop more locations at a much faster rate. West Oil included the fee simple interest in 25 Markette c-stores and a leasehold interest in one c-store in Hartsville, S.C. The acquisition brought Refuel’s store count to 31. On the heels of the West Oil

acquisition, in June, Refuel closed on the acquisition of Bishopville, S.C.-based Bishopville Petroleum Co. Inc., one of the oldest Shellbranded distributors in the nation. The acquisition included two highvolume c-stores — in Bishopville and in Camden, S.C. — along Interstate 20, adjacent to Refuel’s Hartsville/Florence operating area. The purchase included a wholesale fuel distribution and transportation business. The acquisition boosted Refuel’s store count to 33. “The two Bishopville locations are situated within the same regional footprint as the West Oil

locations, so this was an easy decision,” Smith said. The Bishopville acquisition also provided Refuel with a wholesale distribution platform, allowing it to pursue this second growth area. Green DesChamps, former owner and president of Bishopville Petroleum, joined Refuel as director of its new wholesale fuel distribution division. Refuel is currently supplying fuel to approximately 25 dealers. Refuel predicts “that a number of tuck-in retail acquisitions will come with a wholesale component,” Smith noted, adding that Refuel’s primary focus will be on companyoperated stores.

At its Daniel Island, S.C., site, which opened in the summer of 2016, Refuel implemented all of its most successful programs. The location also features Refuel’s trademarked canopy, one of its most notable attributes.



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Refuel works to make its locations inviting for customers. At the Daniel Island location, it’s not unusual to see a handful of kids’ bikes outside or children snacking on the front porch, which features TVs and a fireplace.


At the end of August, Refuel was close to completing the external reimaging of all acquired sites to include the Refuel logo and exterior design, and a rebranding to Exxon fuel. Refuel stores offer either Exxon or Shell-branded fuel. Currently, Refuel is converting store interiors to fit the Refuel model, remodeling stores where necessary. Already, Refuel has refreshed the fountain drink program at all locations. The coffee program is receiving a facelift, too. “We are updating the coffee offering to a bean-to-cup program,” Jordan said. While Refuel doesn’t plan to add square footage to stores, it is evaluating add-ons, specifically when it comes to enhancing foodservice. 34


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October 2019

“We constantly reinvent ourselves on foodservice and understand more every day about how to be increasingly successful with that,” Jordan said. As Refuel refreshes acquired locations, it’s also investing in critical infrastructure. At press time, the chain was entrenched in EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa)-compliance upgrades company-wide ahead of the October 2020 deadline. On the technology front, Refuel implemented scanning at all Markette locations on “day one” of the acquisition. “That alone allowed us to do typical two-for pricing and things that have become commonplace in the industry that Markette wasn’t doing, so we rolled that out with great success immediately,” Jordan said. “Based on our

volume throughput from various vendors, you can already see the benefit. “We’re changing a little bit about the way they operate, and a little bit about what the stores sell,” Jordan added. “As far as adding departments, Markette did some really unique things that were wildly successful.” Promoting lottery is one such success. Markette and Refuel were usually “neck and neck” for top lottery sales per store in South Carolina, “which is a hard thing to do,” Jordan added. “We basically bought a chain that thinks a lot like we do,” Jordan said. “We love to do a lot of volume, and we like to do things right. The things we are changing, we are certain we want to change, but there’s so much we didn’t even have to touch.”

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Refuel looks to ramp up its fleet of stores to more than 100 sites in two years through a combination of acquisitions and new builds. The new builds are expected to cost about $5 million each, and are set to feature Refuel’s proprietary fried chicken program and pizza offerings, which are made fresh in-store.


This July, Refuel announced a $50 million investment plan to expand its footprint in Charleston and eastern South Carolina, through the construction of 10 new-to-industry c-stores in the next year. In August, it welcomed a new chief financial officer, Jon Rier, who served with Atlanta-based RaceTrac Petroleum for the past 12 years. Refuel has set its sights on ramping up its fleet of stores to more than 100 sites in less than two years through a combination of acquisitions and new builds. South Carolina appeals for a range of reasons. South Carolina is a hot destination in the U.S., Jordan said, with new residents arriving in droves. “Major companies such as BMW, Volvo, Boeing and hightech companies are bringing jobs to the market,” Jordan noted. The Charleston market, in particular, is

one of the fastest-growing areas in the state. Construction is already underway on two new sites — one in Sumter, S.C., and one in Nexton, S.C. — both set to open in the fourth quarter of 2019. “We currently have six sites under control in the Charleston market and two sites under control up I-95,” Smith said. The new stores in the Charleston market will look similar to legacy Refuel stores, including porches and family-friendly touches, and will measure between 4,500-6,500 square feet, depending on location. The new builds are expected to cost about $5 million each and are set to feature Refuel’s proprietary fried chicken program and pizza offerings, which are made fresh in the stores. While Refuel has always had a foodservice component, what’s

changed is that its offering is now data-driven. “We figured out what customers want to buy based on better numbers, and we try to put those items out there looking as good as possible, and in appropriate amounts,” Jordan said. Refuel has perfected the southern delicacy, boiled peanuts. “To my knowledge, we are the only chain actually doing this on-site,” Jordan said. “We make them fresh in all of our legacy stores, and they will be in all new builds in the South.” The food programs are branded Refuel. “If you go inside the store and buy a bag of boiled peanuts or a slice of pizza, it’s got our logo on it,” Jordan said. “It’s got a barcode that we produce on it. …” “With the Bishopville acquisition, both those retail sites leased space to fast food, so we have a McDonald’s tenant and Kentucky Fried Chicken tenant,” Smith said, but Refuel doesn’t operate the businesses.

Refuel is converting store interiors to fit the chain’s prototype, remodeling where necessary. Already, Refuel has refreshed the fountain drink program at all locations. The coffee program is receiving a facelift, too, including bean-to-cup coffee dispensers. 36


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#COCACOLARENEW S E E U S AT B O O T H # 1 9 1 7 – N A C S S H O W 2 0 1 9 *Nielsen Planners, YTD 2018 thru June 30th, Total US Convenience Retail ©2019 The Coca-Cola Company

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This July, Refuel announced a $50 million investment plan to expand its footprint in Charleston and eastern South Carolina, through the construction of 10 new-to-industry c-stores in the next year. Construction is already underway on two new sites set to open in the fourth quarter.

Refuel is also continuing to grow its Refuel Rewards loyalty program, which offers customers a 10-cent discount for using the Refuel debit card. It’s currently developing an app — that will incorporate the loyalty program and mobile payment capabilities — which is expected to launch by the end of the year. Car washes encompass another key department. The chain operates four car washes and is rolling out additional car washes at two existing locations, and on one of the new stores currently under construction — bringing Refuel to a grand total of seven car washes by the end of 2019. All of the car washes are single-bay, automatic washes operated under the Refuel brand. “We have by far the most successful car washes that I’ve ever seen in their class,” Jordan said. He credits both location and the dedication to ensuring the car washes are in top shape. “We spend a lot of money on maintenance, and we don’t skimp on anything. Customers reward us for that.” The car washes offer an RFID(radio-frequency identification) tag 38


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car wash club. “We do more volume on our car wash club than a lot of people’s car washes do in total,” Jordan said. CRÈME DE LA CRÈME

“The new builds are really exciting to me,” said Jordan. As the Refuel brand has grown, Jordan has had the opportunity to evaluate what works best, what needs improvement and experiment with new options. At its most recent Daniel Island, S.C., site, which opened in summer 2016, Refuel implemented all of its most successful programs. The site features Refuel’s trademarked canopy, one of its most notable features. “We don’t just sell f’real milkshakes, we sell hundreds of them a day,” Jordan said. “It’s a family-friendly place for kids to hang out after school. It’s comfortable. We have wine-tastings there. It screams, ‘This is a place to spend some time,’ and we enjoy that.” Jordan aspires to design stores that are comfortable gathering places for patrons. “We love architecture. We like the idea of place-making and

October 2019

making a convenience store look like it’s run by just regular people, not big companies,” he said. As a result, the stores are built to look different in order to fit each location. “Refuel, it’s probably the most family-friendly convenience store I’ve ever been to,” Smith said. At the Daniel Island store, for example, it’s not unusual to see a handful of kids’ bikes outside, and kids snacking on the front porch, which features a fireplace. “It’s a place that is inviting to people. I think Refuel is unique in that regard. Convenience stores get a bad rap, and we don’t have that one,” Smith said. The Daniel Island store has thrown parties that have drawn hundreds of customers. “When you, as a gas station, can become a part of the community in a really positive way, and people take ownership of the store, it’s a really proud moment,” Jordan said. “We intend to do that every time we build a store because it’s more fun, it pays better dividends to us as a company, and it’s just what we’re going to do.” CSD

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fast facts:

• When it comes to candy purchases, c-store customers are seeking more value. • Chocolate makes up 60% of the entire U.S. confectionery market, according to the “Getting to Know Chocolate Consumers 2019” report. • Candy manufacturers can help retailers with marketing, promotional signage and insights into merchandising strategies that drive sales.

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Finding Candy’s Sweet Spot Candy consumers are leaning toward bigger bags and multipacks as chocolate stays solid. Thomas Mulloy • Senior Editor

In the candy world, there’s nothing sweeter than chocolate. Chocolate could stand on its own as a separate category, representing 60% of the $35 billion U.S. confectionery industry, according to the “Getting to Know Chocolate Consumers 2019” study by the National Confectioners Association and the Fine Chocolate Industry Association. Household penetration for everyday chocolate is 91%, and seasonal chocolate boasts an even higher rate, at 96%, according to the study. “Chocolate continues to be a leading consumable category at Love’s,” said Wade Hollis, senior manager of category buying for Love’s Travel Stops, “followed closely by salty snacks and alternative snacks like beef jerky, protein bars and cookies.” Love’s is headquartered in Oklahoma City with more than 490 locations in 41 states.

Chocolate’s lofty perch seems safe. A 2017 Transparency Market Research report, “Milk Chocolate Market: Global Industry Analysis 2017-2026,” projects the milk chocolate market compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to be 6.2% through 2026. While all chocolate sales and candy as a whole have been flat, annual dollar sales for novelty chocolate rose a whopping 86.9%, with unit sales up 90.3% for the 52 weeks ending July 14, according to Chicago-based research firm IRI.

October 2019 •

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Category Management | Candy

“We have seen a trend of customers wanting more value in the products they purchase, and that translates in a few different ways,” said Hollis. “They want larger, value-sized bags from national brand manufactures, but they also like to purchase Love’s smaller snack bags at two for $3.” Those smaller bags are part of Love’s Travel Snacks line, the company’s foray into the novelty candy arena, which began in June. “The biggest key to the launch was offering a product to our customers that would resonate with them and allow them to save money,” Hollis said. “Distributing our own candy also allowed us to better ensure our aisles remain stocked for customers who need to quickly get back on the road.” The Love’s line includes gummy bears and worms (regular and sour), assorted fruity and orange slices, starlight mints and peach rings. The line’s heart-shaped sour cherries pay tribute to Love’s heritage. “This line provides our customers good value, innovative flavors and offers they can’t find anywhere else,” Hollis said. PARTNERING FOR SUCCESS

Teaming up with candy manufacturers can be a recipe for success. Candy makers can help with marketing ideas, promotional signage and more. Dyson Williams, marketing manager for Sayre, Pa.-based Dandy Mini Marts’ 64 stores in Pennsylvania and New York, said using that help has upped Dandy’s sales.



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Novelty Chocolate Candy Sales Climb Novelty chocolate candy dollar sales and unit sales saw a big boost in the 52 weeks ending July 14, 2019, according to Chicago-based research firm IRI. Chewy non-chocolate candy dollar sales and sugarless gum dollar sales also grew. Products

Dollar Sales

1-Year % Unit Change Sales

1-Year % Change


$2.87 B


1.72 B


Chocolate Candy Box/Bag/Bar < 3.5 oz

$2.35 B


1.47 B


Chocolate Candy Box/Bag/Bar > 3.5 oz

$364 M


157 M


Novelty Chocolate Candy

$48 M


24.74 M


Chocolate Candy Snack Size

$3.53 M


3.16 M


Sugar-Free Chocoloate Candy

$284 M




$2.08 B


1.44 B


NON-CHOCOLATE CANDY Non-Chocolate Chewy Candy

$1.47 B


958 M


Novelty Non-Chocolate Candy

$194 M


136 M


Plain Mints

$80 M


59.49 M



$1.05 B


658 M


Sugarless Gum

$875 M


472 M


Regular Gum

$177 M


186 M


$235 M


116 M






BREATH FRESHENERS Breath Freshener Sprays/Drops

Source: IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, U.S. Convenience Store All Scan Data for the 52 weeks ending July 14, 2019

The new “strike-zone strategy” from The Hershey Co. “ … seems to be actually increasing candy sales overall,” said Williams. “They block by flavor and then by size. For example, you’d have the Reese’s king-size bar and then the Reese’s standard bar in the same block … they feel that people are shopping by flavor.” They may also be shopping by size; bigger is becoming better. Williams has noticed king-size bars have been displacing standard sizes in his stores the past couple of years. Using manufacturer-provided displays placed strategically throughout the store, away from the regular candy counter, helps drive impulse buys, Williams said. Plus, there’s always the no-brainer space at the checkout for your strongest items.

October 2019

“They’re right there by the register,” said Williams. “That drives incremental sales,” he said, as gas customers opt for impulse purchases. And while chocolate is king, it’s not the only thing. Love’s Hollis said sour candy products have always been a sales leader. He’s particularly proud of the success of Love’s private-brand peach rings. “Peach rings continue to move up the flavor ranking,” he said. Williams noted gum and mints sales have risen at Dandy Mini Marts locations, with bigger share-size packs up double digits. Regional favorites are important to stock, too. “You’ve got to have Mallo Cups in Pennsylvania, in my opinion,” Williams said. A novel classic? Good candy never goes out of style. CSD

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Category Management | Cigarettes

A Shifting Landscape

for Cigarettes C-stores battle price increases and continued threat of menthol bans. Anne Baye Ericksen â&#x20AC;˘ Contributing Editor

Next month marks one year since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement detailing possible changes to tobacco regulations, including the intent to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to ban menthol in combustible tobacco products. Four months later, it released another ANPRM to lower maximum nicotine levels in cigarettes to minimize their addictive nature. 44


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fast facts: • Cigarettes and other tobacco products (OTPs) account for approximately 20% of gross margins for c-store inside sales, according to Wells Fargo Securities. • Manufacturers could raise cigarette prices for a third time this year.

Since then, most headlines coming out the FDA have involved e-cigarettes and vaping devices, leaving the c-store industry wondering what will transpire with combustible cigarettes, which account for a large percentage of convenience store profits. Not only do nearly 90% of all cigarette purchases transpire in c-stores, but cigarettes and other tobacco products (OTPs) earn approximately 20% of gross margins for all inside sales, per Wells Fargo Securities. Plus, CNBC reported that menthol drives more than half of all cigarette sales. If the government moves ahead with a national menthol ban, how will tobacco category managers respond? “We would have to cut the backbar down in size and figure out what to merchandise there. Cigars would take the biggest SKU cut, but we would also need to reduce the size of the smokeless, cigarettes and e-cigarette sections,” said Reilly Robinson Musser, vice president of marketing and merchandising for Robinson Oil Corp. Based in Santa Clara, Calif., the company owns and operates 34 Rotten Robbie convenience stores. October 2019 •

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Category Management | Cigarettes

I don’t think the menthol smoker will quit smoking. They may just switch to a non-menthol cigarette. - Sean Bumgarner, vice president of Scrivener Oil Co.

While definitive action hasn’t happened on the national level yet, local governments keep contemplating flavored tobacco bans that oftentimes include menthol cigarettes. “Ordinances at this level of government clearly create an uneven playing field,” said David Bishop, managing partner for the marketing firm Balvor LLC. “In Chicago, for instance, you could have two stores across the street from one an-



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other where one is permitted to sell flavored tobacco products and the other is prohibited simply because one is located within 500 feet of a school. Or in Minneapolis, all convenience stores are impacted as that ordinance only permitted the sale of flavored tobacco products in adult-only stores.” For retailers in neighboring towns, however, these regulations have resulted in increased business.

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Category Management | Cigarettes

FDA Proposes New Cigarette Warning Labels In August, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a proposed rule that would require new health warning labels to be placed on packs of cigarettes as well as in advertisements to better communicate with customers about the health consequences of smoking using colorful images. “While not a complete surprise given it is a component of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act and consistent with the FDA’s goals, it’s unclear what the ultimate impact of these proposed warning labels will have on cigarette consumption given evidence in other markets such as Australia/U.K. (where graphic warning labels have been present for a few years) have not necessarily had a material negative impact on cig volumes,” said Bonnie Herzog, managing director of equity research for Wells Fargo Securities LLC. A public comment period runs through Oct. 15, with a final rule expected in March 2020. Implementation of the final rule “could follow in roughly 15 months, or around mid-2021,” Herzog said. She added this could be delayed, “as the industry has the ability to litigate — which we fully expect — once a Final Rule is issued. Bottom line: We believe this is yet again another manageable risk for the industry.”

“We do have stores that border other cities and unincorporated counties with flavor bans, and we definitely sell more flavors in those locations,” said Musser. Although his 11 SIGNAL Food Stores in Missouri haven’t fallen

under such restrictions, Scrivener Oil Co. Vice President Sean Bumgarner holds a positive outlook for cigarette sales if a local, state or federal ban is enacted. “I don’t think the menthol smoker will quit smoking. They may just switch to a non-menthol cigarette,” he explained.

Tobacco Tallies


Cigarettes still command the greatest market share of the approximately $100 billion generated by retail tobacco sales. Cigarettes


Chewing tobacco


E-cigarettes & vaping




Source: Nielsen: Tobacco All Channel Data Through 8/10, released by Wells Fargo Securities, Aug. 20, 2019



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Bans aren’t the only development influencing the category’s performance. Cities and states continue to raise taxes and minimum purchasing age. Also, manufacturers pushed up prices twice this year— first an 11-cent bump in February, then another six cents in June. This followed an established pattern of compensating for falling dollar and unit sales. For example, Nielsen

data for the four weeks ending Aug. 10 showed dollar sales for cigarettes in all channels fell by 2.6% and volume dipped more than 7%, while pricing for the same period rose by 4.9%. Analysts and retailers suspect manufacturers will raise prices at least once more this year, perhaps as much as seven cents and as soon as this month. Even with uncertainty circling around future FDA decisions, cigarettes still provide profits and outperform OTPs. However, a shift toward vaping and a promising potential for reduced risk products, such as the recently approved iQOS, could help c-stores retain overall tobacco sales. When asked what factors most affect cigarette sales in his stores, instead of citing taxes or regulations, Bumgarner responded, “Juul and vaping.”CSD

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Source: Nielsen AOD, $/Store Weeks Selling thru 3/30/2019.

How do I get started? Ask a JUUL representative about your 16 JUUL SKUs today.


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NOT FOR SALE TO MINORS: This is an age-restricted product and age verification is required at sale. CALIFORNIA PROPOSITION 65 WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. TM and © 2019 JUUL Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.

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9/11/19 9:39 AM

Category Management | E-Tobacco


Face Turbulence


As e-cigarette sales soar, officials at all levels of government increasingly target flavored vapor for tougher regulations, higher taxes. Thomas Mulloy • Senior Editor

While combustible cigarette sales dwarfs that of e-cigs and vaping products at a rate of 11 to one — $55.5 billion to 4.2 billion — the electronic smoking device segment is growing. E-cigarette sales having risen 148.7%, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI’s U.S. Convenience Store All Scan Data for the 52 weeks ending July 14, 2019. Unit sales have nearly doubled, the report said. While there is strong sentiment in the vaping community that e-cigarette use is a valid and effective alternative to combustible cigarettes, regulators at the state and local levels have expressed worries about underage vaping, saying that flavored vape products attract use by minors. “There are proposals to ban flavored e-cigarettes,” said Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, “and there are proposals to ban all flavored tobacco in several jurisdictions around New York state — and I expect that we’ll see more of them.” 52


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There are proposals to ban flavored e-cigarettes, and there are proposals to ban all flavored tobacco in several jurisdictions around New York state – and I expect that we’ll see more of them.

– Jim Calvin, president, New York Association of Convenience Stores

Indeed, on Sept. 15, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will ask his health commissioner to direct the state’s Public Health and Health Planning Council to issue an emergency regulation to ban sales of flavored e-cigarettes there, effective as soon as early October. CDC WARNING

The move in New York follows a new warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is giving municipalities seeking to ban e-cigs more ammunition. In early September, the CDC announced it was launching an investigation after a reported 450 possible cases of severe pulmonary disease and five deaths in 33 states associated with e-cigarette product (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) use. No specific product or substance has been identified as the cause. That number doubled rapidly from the 215 cases reported at the end of August. The uptick prompted the CDC to issue a warning: “While this investigation is ongoing, consider not using e-cigarette products,” the CDC’s website said. “Adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarette products. … Adult smokers who are attempting to quit should use evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications.” Time will tell if the warnings from the CDC spur more local bans, impact e-cig sales or send vapers who switched from traditional cigarettes back to combustible cigarettes. Former smokers are known to make up a large contingent of vapers.

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October 2019 •



9/16/19 10:29 AM

Category Management | E-Tobacco

“The evidence grows stronger every month that vaping products are more effective than traditional nicotine replacement therapy products like the nicotine gum and patch at helping smokers give up cigarettes,” said Greg Conley, president of the American Vaping Association. “Multiple population level studies are showing that vast numbers of ex-smokers are vaping now.” REGULATORY CRACKDOWN

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Sept. 11 that it will finalize a compliance policy in the coming weeks to prioritize the enforcement of the premarket authorization (PMA) requirements for non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes. The FDA said that all electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products currently on the market are not being legally marketed and are subject to government action. Other e-cig flavor bans are picking up steam. Michigan became the first state to ban the sale of flavored vaping and e-cigarettes when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last month ordered the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to enact emergency rules banning the sale of flavored vaping products for six months. In June, the city of San Francisco outlawed the sales of all e-cigarettes that have not undergone premarket review by the FDA — which none

Electronic Smoking Device Sales Soar Electronic smoking devices saw dollar sales grow by 148.7% and unit sales climb by 96.2% in the convenience channel for the 52 weeks ending July 14, 2019, according to the most recent data from Chicago-based research firm IRI. The increase dwarfed rises in other tobacco segments, including spitless tobacco, which also saw large gains. Products

Dollar Sales

1-Year % Unit Change Sales

1-Year % Change

Price Change 1-Year


$4.20 B


286 M




$55.50 B


7.9 B




$3.47 B


2.35 B




$7.40 B


1.38 B



Chewing Tobacco/Snuff

$6.89 B


1.3 B



Spitless Tobacco

$484 M


94.2 M



$121 M


16 M



Pipe Tobacco

$77.80 M


9.97 M



RYO Tobacco

$43 M


6.04 M




Source: IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, U.S. Convenience Store All Scan Data for the 52 weeks ending July 14, 2019

have — effective January 2020. Around the same time, Beverly Hills, Calif., passed a ban on the sales of all tobacco products in that city, effective Jan. 1, 2021. Boulder, Colo., passed a flavored vaping ban in September, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2020. “As far as regulations, especially here in Colorado recently, we’re starting to see more local municipalities,

fast facts:

• E-cigarette annual sales have risen 148.7%, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI. • Michigan and New York recently became the first states to move to ban flavored e-cigs — more states may soon follow. • Retailers can fight e-cig bans by establishing relationships with local lawmakers and staying tuned in to conversations around legislation in the community.



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October 2019

cities and towns looking at (minimum age to purchase of) 21 and flavor bans,” said Tim Greene, category director with Smoker Friendly, which has 105 stores across Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and Florida. Boulder has also proposed a ballot measure to get voter approval to levy taxes of 40% on the tobacco-flavored vaping products allowed to remain in local shops. But with a patchwork of legislative restrictions coming from all levels of government, what can retailers do to assure their voices are heard? “Number one, they need to be aware … and tuned in to what’s happening in their local community from a government standpoint,” said Calvin, “so that when tobacco restrictions are proposed or introduced at the city or village or county level, that they have an early awareness and have the opportunity to have input as early in the process as possible. That’s critically important.” CSD

9/16/19 11:02 AM




the top-selling flavor segment.


EVP CATEGORY GROWTH (millions/units)

MINT SEGMENT GROWTH (thousands/units)





500 2019E


Visit us at NACS Show Booth #749





WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical. NOT FOR SALE TO MINORS.

*Source: IRI – Total Conv Latest 4 week periods Top 50 SKUs Unit Sales, Units Sold Per Selling Store, Unit Sales and Stores. **Source: [Tobacco, Market]: Nielsen US Tobacco YoY rates for C-store channel (2013-2014) and all channel (2015-2017); UBS Global Tobacco Report 2017 YoY forecast (2018); Morgan Stanley Tobacco report (2018-2025 forecast); CDC 2017 unit tobacco sales; [EVP Market, 7-Eleven EVP]: MSAI Partnership Retail Database; [C-Stores sales]: Wells Fargo Convenience Stores Report. *7-Eleven 2016-2018 CAGR excludes 7-Eleven Horizon

©2019 Fontem. blu®, the blu logo, myblu™, and the myblu logo are trademarks of Fontem Holdings 4 B.V.

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9/11/19 8:39 AM

Category Management | Health & Beauty

Besting the HBA Competition While the health and beauty aid category at c-stores can vary widely depending on region and customer demographics, c-stores are identifying ways to draw buyers to the segment. Howard Riell • Associate Editor

As customers prioritize health, c-stores are offering shoppers more health and beauty aid (HBA) choices, including products infused with cannabidiol (CBD). HBAs in the c-store channel provide an irresistible combination of consumer motivators: the convenience people want and the products they need. From health maintenance to cosmetics, the magnets drawing consumers to the HBA shelves work in tandem — together with strong retailing practices — to create a dynamic department. But competition from other channels, including grocery, drug and dollar stores, means c-stores need to up their game to stay relevant in the category. For Tom Dix, buyer for Dandy Mini Marts Inc., which operates 65 locations throughout the Twin Tiers region of Pennsylvania and New York, dollar stores pose the biggest competitive threat for the HBA category. 56


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Category Management | Health & Beauty

Beauty Aid Sales Grow at C-Stores Lip treatments saw the biggest dollar and unit sales climb year-over-year within the beauty segment at c-stores, but nail polish, lipstick and eye brow makeup were among cosmetics that also saw large gains for the 52 weeks ending July 14, 2019, according to Chicago-based research firm IRI data. Products

Dollar Sales

1-Year % Change

Unit Sales

1-Year % Change











Eye Brow Makeup






















Lip Gloss





Lip Treatment





6.5 M


3.5 M






3.48 M


1.03 M




Source: IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, U.S. Convenience Store All Scan Data for the 52 weeks ending July 14, 2019

“The biggest problems are Dollar General and Family Dollar,” Dix said. To woo customers away from these dollar store giants, “we’re trying to go with more two- and four-pack name-brand peg (HBA items) and with private-label in bigger sizes.” BY THE NUMBERS

Despite heated competition, sales figures illustrate the category’s strength in convenience stores. Market research firm IRI’s all scan convenience store data for the latest 52 weeks ending July 14, 2019, show cold, allergy and sinus tablets dollar sales of $158 million, an increase of 5.9%. Meanwhile cold, allergy and sinus liquids/powders garnered $39.6 million in sales, up 2.9%. On the beauty front, lip cosmetics sales climbed during the 52-week period, with dollar sales up 5.8% and unit 58


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sales growing 29.9%. Within the segment, lipstick saw unit sales up 38.5%, while lip treatments increased 218.2% in dollar sales and 216.3% in unit sales.

Eye cosmetics saw a unit sales uptick of 7.6%. Unit sales of mascara were up 12.8%, while eyebrow makeup unit sales climbed by 21.7%.

Customers Research Online Before Buying Skincare Products Today’s customers are educating themselves on skincare ingredients. Some 46% of facial skincare users reported buying products free of sulfates, phthalates and/or gluten, according to “Women’s Facial Skincare Consumer Report 2019,” from market research company, The NPD Group. This represents a six-point increase over the past two years. What’s more, U.S. women are increasingly researching skincare products online to gain a better understanding of ingredients before buying products in-store. Nearly 50% of women surveyed for the report researched skincare products online before purchasing them in-store. They perused online reviews and ratings, as well as social media influencers.

October 2019

9/13/19 2:53 PM

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9/12/19 8:49 AM

Category Management | Health & Beauty

Health Aid Dollar Sales Up


Today’s consumers are taking better care of themselves, said Erin King, senior category manager for 7-Eleven Inc. “Trends are moving toward more fitness, better eating and consumption of vitamins and dietary supplements to aid in the healthy maintenance of the body,” King said. HBA sales can vary in multiple ways, King noted. “Our standard HBA set is 12 feet; however, some stores have limited space, which means the HBA set can be as small as four feet.” There is also a regional play, King said. “Some brands do better in specific parts of the country; for example, BC Powder vs. Goody’s Powder. Customers are very specific about which brand they prefer, which varies regionally.” Sales can also vary based on the customer profile, King added, and items should be merchandised within the section to meet those specific customer needs. 7-Eleven’s take on increasing HBA volume is simply to provide shoppers with more choices. “To increase HBA sales,” King said, “expanding the assortment and giving additional space to the category is a good place to start.”

First aid accessories, cold, allergy, sinus and gastrointestinal liquids and tablets all saw dollar sales increases for the 52 weeks ending July 14, 2019, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI. Products

Dollar Sales

1-Year % Change

Unit Sales

1-Year % Change


$13.6 M


6.4 M


Cold/Allergy/Sinus Liquid/Powder

$39.6 M


4.5 M


Cold/Allergy/Sinus Tablets/Packets

$158 M


43.1 M



$28.2 M


5.5 M



$124.4 M


57.9 M


Source: IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, U.S. Convenience Store All Scan Data for the 52 weeks ending July 14, 2019.


Jackson has found that HBA tends to be a customer-need-driven category. “If the customer comes into the store with a headache, runny nose, etc., they generally go looking for something for immediate relief.” That said, he added, merchandising seasonally-driven products near the point-of-sale (POS) ensures customers see the product and may purchase immediately instead of waiting to visit a larger retailer. Jackson recommended c-store operators carry multiple-dose packs. “Make sure the retails are not too outrageous as to make the customer feel they are being taken advantage of when making a purchase,” he said. Selling only single-dose travel packs limits who will purchase the product, he added. “Someone traveling will know they will need at least a second dose that day to relieve the Cold, allergy and sinus tablets brought in $158 million in dollar symptoms, so if you only have sales, an increase of 5.7%, at c-stores for the 52 weeks ending single dose retail packs, they July 14, 2019, according to market research firm IRI. may wait to purchase the product from somewhere else rather than buying To best competition from dollar and drug stores, some c-stores multiple single-dose are giving HBA more space and customers more choices. packs.” CSD The 2018 federal “Farm Bill” legalized the production of hemp, which essentially legalized CBD on the federal level. The result has been more HBA products featuring CBD, which is touted as having pain-management and calming properties. “CBD is the hottest product (in HBA) right now,” said Mike Jackson, category manager for Baltimorebased High’s, which operates 49 c-stores in Mid-Atlantic states. “Since it is fairly new to the c-store market, sales are growing exponentially each week. I think greater customer awareness and knowledge have also contributed to increased sales of CBD.”

fast facts: •



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9/11/19 9:28 AM

Category Management Column | Cannabis




As the legal market for cannabis grows, Euromonitor International expects cannabis to infiltrate and change numerous c-store categories. Shane MacGuill • Euromonitor International

Cannabis is poised to disrupt virtually every consumer industry. Euromonitor International’s report, “Here Comes Cannabis: How Legalisation Will Disrupt Global Industries,” predicts some form of cannabis will be a part of consumers’ daily routines within the next decade, either as a functional ingredient in foods, beverages and beauty or as a wellness mood enhancer as part of health and lifestyle routines. Euromonitor International predicts the total global legal market for cannabis will grow to more than $150 billion by 2025. North America is at the forefront of the cannabis revolution. Recreational marijuana is currently legal in Canada, Washington, D.C., and 10 U.S. states, with Illinois also set to legalize marijuana in 2020. Medical marijuana is legal in 33 U.S. states, which is a strong precursor to recreational legalization. Euromonitor International expects federal legalization of recreational cannabis in the U.S. within the next five years. CBD is the current functional ingredient of choice. The non-psychoactive properties make it more accessible to consumers, both legally 62


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and psychologically. As consumers become educated about the applications of CBD, conversations are kickstarting around cannabis more broadly. In time, normalization and deregulation will present opportunities with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-infused products. However, CBD is not the only cannabinoid. As scientific studies develop, a range of cannabinoids in specific combinations with each other and with THC will be created for certain ailments. For example, THC converts to cannabinol (CBN) as the plant naturally ages or is exposed to heat or oxygen. CBN is reputed to have sedative, pain relief, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as being an appetite stimulant and encouraging bone healing, among other therapeutic properties. Conversely, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) has an appetite suppressant effect, which presents possibilities in terms of weight management positioning across product categories. The following examples are proof of how cannabis is already disrupting consumer goods. BEVERAGE BOOST

The alcoholic drinks industry is by far the most embedded in the cannabis sector and

9/13/19 8:48 AM

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Category Management Column | Cannabis

arguably the one most impacted by cannabis legalization. At least three major corporate players have a stake in cannabis producers. With the industry already headed in a lowand non-alcohol direction, a future where THC replaces ABV in alcoholic beverages is on the horizon. The global soft drinks industry is driven by health and wellness. CBD-infused products are prevalent in soft and hot drinks today. This creates an opportunity for the development of cannabis beverages that fit into social settings with a health and wellness element. As low- and non-alcoholic beverages grow in popularity and sugary drinks decline, consumer trends between alcoholic drinks and soft drinks continue converging. TOBACCO ALTERNATIVE

Cannabis legalization is expected to be a transformative dynamic for the tobacco industry, which has seen cigarette volume sales and smoking populations plummet across developed markets, according to Euromonitor International. Some smokers will experiment with CBD or low-THC cannabis products, mainly via vaping, as a form of smoking in moderation. However, the greatest potential for 64


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cannabis is to replace tobacco and alcohol in social occasions. The tobacco industry is uniquely poised to take advantage of the shift in consumer preferences because it understands the restrictive legislation, taxation and the agricultural production chain. Today, the industry invests in producers of medical cannabis and cannabis consumption devices. In the future, tobacco manufacturers may either own cannabis brands, cultivate value-added strains or produce gadgets for its consumption. OTHER APPLICATIONS

Hemp seed oil beauty and personal care products have been on the market for decades. The new superhero ingredient in beauty, CBD, has replaced hemp promoting anti-oxidizing, oil-balancing and antiinflammatory properties. CBD products exist in a growing variety of consumer health categories, such as dietary supplements, topical analgesics and sleeping aids. The current opioid crisis in mature markets will drive demand for cannabis as a natural, homeopathic alternative to pharmaceuticals for the relief of chronic pain, stress and insomnia. According to Euromonitor International, the global market for vitamins

October 2019

and dietary supplements is predicted to be the largest cannabis-driven over-the-counter (OTC) market by 2025, with 2% of total value sales to be CBD or THC-based, followed by topical analgesics, sleeping aids and sports nutrition. Hemp-based food products, such as hemp seeds, oil, plant-based milk alternatives and protein bars, have long existed on the shelves of health food stores. Euromonitor International expects global sales of CBD packaged foods to double over the next two years, as consumer awareness of the ingredient’s benefits grows. Once markets expand, regulations are clarified and cannabinoids as an added ingredient become ubiquitous, cannabis will become prevalent in food categories. FUTURE LANDSCAPE

Today’s CBD-dominated market will drastically change over the next decade. By 2030, the cannabis landscape will be transformed by outcome-based brands made by household brand names. The growth of THC-infused products will become more routine in consumers’ daily lives, adding a new dimension beyond medical applications. Brands across all industries will focus on the sensorial, mood-enhancing attributes. The pace of legalization means consumers will increasingly be able to use cannabis products for their daily needs. Companies that reacted early will have their own everyday cannabis brands, as cannabinoids are turned into a variety of missionfulfilling products across fast-moving consumer goods. Shane MacGuill is the head of tobacco for Euromonitor International. Download the report, “Here Comes Cannabis: How Legalisation Will Disrupt Global Industries” at

9/16/19 8:21 AM





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©2019 SMCI Holding, Inc.


9/11/19 8:52 AM

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9/10/19 3:18 PM

Foodservice | Menu Development

Developing C-Store


To stay competitive and keep menus fresh, c-stores listen to their customers, watch the trends and track the data. Isabelle Gustafson • Associate Editor

Customers’ expectations are higher than ever, especially when it comes to foodservice. To stay competitive and see lasting success, c-stores must know the market, the customer, the trends, as well as introduce limited-time offers (LTOs). With permanent menu items and LTOs alike, data-tracking is key to determining which items are most popular and profitable. In addition to co-brands Subway, Quiznos and Papa John’s, SIGNAL Food Stores, which spans 11 locations in southwest Missouri, operates a proprietary foodservice program under the name Hank’s Chicken, Fish & More. Hank’s measures menu items’ success in several ways, including data-tracking, daily waste logs and customer feedback.



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Cliff’s Local Market Director of Foodservice Derek Thurston pays close attention to price fluctuations and runs a menu margin analysis report to determine which items to include or remove. “We have many regulars at our Hank’s locations, and they are quick to tell you whether they think something is good or bad,” said Jami Jordan, vice president of Scrivener Oil Co. Inc., the parent company of SIGNAL Food Stores. Plus, she said, it’s important to know your brand’s limitations. “We tried hard to get a fish sandwich off of the ground, but we found that good bread is key, and we aren’t equipped to bake fresh bread every day.”

Derek Thurston, director of foodservice for New York-based Cliff’s Local Market, said he’s “constantly looking at the menu” to determine which items to include or remove. He pays close attention to price fluctuations and runs a menu margin analysis report. For example, Cliff’s discontinued a few sandwiches that used cream cheese as a topping. “When you’re making a whole tub of cream cheese to do a topping for a sandwich, it doesn’t

We have learned that items that relate to our (Hank’s Chicken, Fish & More) brand work best. For example, adding ‘Hot Chicken’ to our menu to give customers a new take on chicken makes much more sense than adding hamburgers.

— Jami Jordan, vice president of Scrivener Oil Co. Inc., the parent company of SIGNAL Food Stores



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October 2019

make sense,” said Thurston. “So we’ll cut items, which improves profitability, and it makes better margins for us.” CONSUMER TRENDS

Market research firm Datassential’s SCORES database tracks and rates LTOs and new product launches based on metrics including uniqueness and value. Senior Project Manager Jackie Rodriguez said menu trends are about innovation. Sometimes it’s just about introducing an old product in a new way. Other times, knowing your market is more important than knowing the trends. “We have learned that items that relate to our (Hank’s Chicken, Fish & More) brand

work best,” said Jordan. “For example, adding ‘Hot Chicken’ to our menu to give customers a new take on chicken makes much more sense than adding hamburgers.”

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9/11/19 8:55 AM

Foodservice | Menu Development

The No. 1 seller is chicken tenders, but they also sell a lot of catfish, livers and gizzards, which, Jordan learned, many Hank’s customers grew up eating. The most popular sides at Hank’s are mashed potatoes and potato wedges, but the brand also offers

several seasonal items and LTOs, such as coleslaw for summer. “We like to offer a variety of sides to give our customers options,” she said. “We started offering macaroni and cheese as a winter item, but it sold so well we kept it on the menu.”

Rodriguez said chicken, due to its universal appeal, makes a great platform for other trends. She also pointed to spicy food, Southern cuisine and barbecue as current trends in the c-store space and beyond. In June, Cliff’s started offering a BBQ Pork Rib Sandwich as a summer LTO. Before that, the chain did an LTO featuring cheesy garlic bread and a sauce from a local brand, It’s a Utica Thing, which Cliff’s sells as a retail item. “It was a really cool promotion because we’re a local brand. DiOrio’s, our pizza supplier, is made locally in Utica, and the sauce was made here, too,” he said. “So it’s three local

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Foodservice | Menu Development

fast facts: • Limited-time offers (LTOs) keep foodservice menus fresh. • With permanent menu items and LTOs alike, data-tracking is key to determining which items are most popular and profitable. • Know your customer and your market. Balance new trends with tried-and-true favorites.

companies doing a collaboration together.” In addition to incorporating local products and LTOs, Thurston pays close attention to food and beverage trends. The chain recently started offering a craft bubbler program, which Thurston said is a complement to the soda fountain and comes in a range of rotating flavors, including orange passion fruit, ginger pear, blackberry lemonade and raspberry hibiscus tea. “My thought process with that program is, ‘We’re a 19-store chain. Compare us to Circle K, who does 79-cent any-size fountain drinks — that’s not something that we’re going to be able to do just because we don’t have that buying power to be competitive,’” said Thurston. “But we have this pure craft program using real sugars, natural flavors. Yes, we’re a little bit higher on our price point, but we do offer an elevated drink option.” Other premium options include cold-brew and nitro coffee. While the bubbler program is popular 74


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October 2019

among consumers of all ages, Thurston said nitro has some catching up to do. “I do notice with the cold brew, the nitro side is a little bit of a barrier just because consumers aren’t even quite sure of what it is yet,” he said. Sometimes increased exposure — even from another company — can boost sales.

“Starbucks is doing nitro, so that will actually build awareness for my offering,” Thurston said. “When (customers) walk into my store, they’ll be like, ‘Oh, okay, yes. Cold brew, nitro. I know what that is. I saw that at Starbucks.’” Besides, he said, Starbucks isn’t a direct competitor in his retail markets. “We’re more Dunkin’ country.” CSD

9/13/19 2:58 PM

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9/11/19 9:23 AM

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9/11/19 8:44 AM


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9/11/19 8:45 AM

Foodservice | Bakery



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C-Store Bakeries


with Local and Fresh

Successful c-store bakery programs go beyond a decent doughnut. Isabelle Gustafson • Associate Editor

Bakery items can be geared toward morning or all dayparts, feature new flavors or focus on the classics. The bottom line: make sure products are fresh, local and promoted. Rutter’s Food Service Category Supervisor Chad White said the chain has been focusing on its bakery menu for the past few months. “We’ve been looking to expand our case to bring all dayparts — not just the breakfast option. …” he said. After a bit of searching, York, Pa.-based Rutter’s added cake pops to the menu. They’ve been a “huge success,” White said, bringing a whole new energy to the category. “It took a while to find the right product because we want fresh products out there,” he said. “We want products that look good, taste good and obviously are fresh as well.” Among its variety of baked goods, Rutter’s offers whoopie pies, better known as “gobs” in parts of Pennsylvania. Plus, another new product — edible cookie dough in two flavors, Chocolate Chip and Party Time — kept in the cold case to drive more sales. Rutter’s also prioritizes local ingredients. In fact, the company created a new role in 2018. Fresh and Local Category Supervisor Cheri Booth works with White in an effort to bring in additional local products. “I think it’s a huge benefit for the customers to see that their products come in from somewhere local,” said White. “They feel like they’re investing in the community when they buy that product as well.”

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Foodservice | Bakery

Rutter’s prioritizes local ingredients for its bakery items. The company created a new role in 2018; Fresh and Local Category Supervisor Cheri Booth works with Food Service Category Supervisor Chad White to bring in additional local products.


International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) Industry Relations Coordinator Eric Richard said the changing demographic has an effect on the bakery market. The traditional consumer of baked goods had been families. “Because the number of single-family households or two-person households has risen dramatically over the past few years, you’re going to have individuals shopping just for themselves, and they might be less inclined to purchase, say, a full-sized cake or a full-sized loaf of bread,” he said. “This is where c-stores can really shine.” In bakery and beyond, 7-Eleven tries to appeal to the young consumer. The company recently added several new items to the menu, including Bourbon Maple Praline Yeast Donut, Cinnamon Fire Bomb Cake Donut and a Piña Colada Cupcake.

Utilize your social media channels, and create buzz around products and buzz around your baked goods. You can have the best baked goods department that any c-store has in your region, but if people don’t know about it, and if consumers are not generating buzz about it, you probably aren’t going to be as successful as those stores who do utilize those channels.

— Eric Richard, industry relations coordinator, International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA)



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7-Eleven Product Director of Fresh Foods Vareesha Shariff said these flavors are intended for Gen Z customers, who “often look to specialty bakeries and doughnut shops to indulge in their decadent needs, but are also time-starved and looking for convenient options.” Although younger generations want new flavors and combinations, Richard said they also want to try some of the classics that they’ve heard of from their parents and their grandparents. Rutter’s knows a thing or two about the classics; whoopie pies date back to the 1920s. They’ve also seen success with items like apple pie, a seasonal offering. “Something as simple as apple pie — not only does that resonate with those individuals who may have eaten that on a regular basis while growing up,” said Richard, “I think there’s also this interest from younger generations, too.”

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However, offering great products is not enough to set your business apart. Retailers must go a step further and fully promote those items, said Richard, noting that traditional marketing such as in-store messaging can still be effective, but social media should be used to its full capacity, too. “Utilize your social media channels, and create buzz around products and buzz around your baked goods,” said Richard. “You can have the best baked goods department that any c-store has in your region, but if people don’t know about it, and if consumers are not generating buzz about it, you probably aren’t going to be as successful as those stores who do utilize those channels.” CSD

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fast facts:

• Consumers want fresh bakery products made with local ingredients. • Although young consumers are more adventurous overall, traditional products and flavors are a big driver of the category. 82


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Foodservice | Packaging

Packaging Packs a Punch

Proper packaging elevates foodservice, showcasing and maintaining quality, while enhancing convenience. Marilyn Odesser-Torpey • Associate Editor

One window is worth a thousand words. At least it is to Michelle Weckstein, director of foodservice for the 78 Sun Stop Convenience Stores and Sun Valley Market & Deli stores in Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Weckstein pointed out that producing attractive, tempting-looking foods for the stores’ Eats Deli is only part of her job. The other part is finding packaging that fully showcases the items inside. The submarine sandwich bag, for example, shows off the goodness of the product inside using a clear window across threequarters of the package’s front. Another example is the cardboard window box that she uses for the stores’ signature cinnamon buns and breakfast sandwiches. While the window communicates the Eats brand’s quality story on its own, Weckstein uses a few well-chosen 84


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words to emphasize it. Most packaging carries the Eats logo along with one of two taglines: “Southern Cooking” for made-to-order or graband-go foods from the hot delis in over 30 of the stores and “Fresh on the Go” for other foods. At a recent trade show, “I was pleased to find our box on display as an example of effective packaging,” Weckstein noted. For hot breakfast and lunch bowls, she chose containers with a black bottom and clear top to display the foods and avoid condensation that can compromise the foods’ textures and flavors. She is also looking at a prototype of a wax-lined, greaseresistant container for fried chicken and fish. Whenever possible, Weckstein looks for eco-friendly packaging. Currently, she is on the hunt for a recyclable plastic fountain beverage cup. She is also looking for packaging that will be airtight for the cinnamon buns and breakfast sandwiches.

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Top Environmental Attributes for Packaging, According to Consumers

Source: Food Packaging Institute’s “2019 Customer Survey Infographic,” with information from its “The U.S. Consumer Survey, April 2019”

October 2019 •



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Foodservice | Packaging

Key Single-Use Item Packaging Attributes


Aside from an impressive presentation, Frank Battaglia, foodservice director for Power Mart convenience stores and Nana’s Hot Dogs — a Chicago-based diner — also asks for more from the packaging he chooses. First, the materials must be durable enough to hold up to both hot and cold foods while customers transport them to their destinations. The packaging must also be versatile enough to fit several products of different sizes and dimensions to control inventory and make quantity purchases more economical. At the Powmaro Deli inside the Power Mart store, Battaglia packages the popular seven-inch submarine sandwiches in plain white butcher paper. “We found we are selling more of the sandwiches since we switched to the butcher paper,” he said. “In Chicago, white butcher paper is associated with fresh meats.” Battaglia partnered with Fischer Paper Products to provide packaging options and help with his more challenging packaging needs. He said the company helped develop a variety of solutions for his particular requirements. Next up, with the company’s help, he’s on a mission to discover a bag for the oversized (four-inch by four-inch) rectangular slices of homemade pizza he sells at the deli.

The Foodservice Packaging Institute surveyed 800 respondents in the U.S. and Canada balanced across income, education level, gender and region, about packaging needs for “The U.S. Consumer Survey, April 2019.” While c-store retailers know the ability to see the food conveys freshness and quality, customers don’t think of it as the most important attribute when compared with other attributes like leak proof and preventing stains.

Source: Food Packaging Institute’s “2019 Customer Survey Infographic,” with information from its “The U.S. Consumer Survey, April 2019”

“We use Styrofoam now, but I’m not a fan of this material,” he explained. “I would rather use a bag.” Nana’s Hot Dogs, a free-standing operation, sells between 400 and 500 of its namesake item per day. To present them, he is moving forward to use a 12-inch by 12inch flat, red-and-white check wrap. The paper must be grease-proof to neatly Packaging, with or without a window, should contain french fries as well as hot dogs. communicate freshness. Battaglia is planning to get the paper printed with the Nana’s brand. Durability for hot and cold foods is key. The company is scheduled to open another Power Mart with deli For hot foods, consider condensation-resistant materials. and another Nana’s location in Downers Grove, Ill. CSD

fast facts: • • • 86


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Foodservice Column | Global Flavors

Beyond Taco Tuesday Convenience stores foray deeper into international cuisine, exploring a range of global flavors to entice younger demographics with adventurous palates. Julie Heseman • Foodservice IP

Globally inspired food trends continue to excite consumers, especially millennials and Gen Z. Traditional Hispanic foods like tacos and burritos are commonplace for American consumers, even within the convenience store segment. For example, Texas-based c-store chain Stripes and its popular Laredo Taco Co. brand were acquired by Texas-based 7-Eleven in 2018, which is continuing to grow the Laredo Taco program, including in its new 7-Eleven Lab store in Dallas. Laredo Taco Co. features handmade tortillas, authentic protein options and salsa made in-house daily. They also feature a salsa bar for consumers to easily customize and spice up their dishes on the go. Breakfast tacos, a Texas staple, are also a fixture of Laredo Taco Co.’s menu. While breakfast tacos may be ubiquitous in Texas, the rest of the country enjoys breakfast burritos on a more regular basis. Foodservice IP’s convenience store study reports that 18% of consumers visiting a c-store during breakfast purchased a breakfast burrito. While Hispanic foods may be seen as familiar to most consumers, a recent Foodservice IP study reports the majority of consumers will try a new food or beverage once (79%) and seek out new or unique dining experiences (62%); this is especially true of millennial and Gen Z consumers. 88


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Looking at Amazon Go, for example, a quick walk through the store showcases the wide variety and demand for global cuisines. While it features traditional grab-and-go items like salads and cold sandwiches, the majority of Amazon Go’s selection incorporates flavors from around the world. Butter Chicken with Turmeric Rice, Grilled Chicken Teriyaki with Bok Choy and Chicken Banh Mi Sandwich are just a few of the offerings in the new frictionless stores. As consumers continue to look for new flavors, cstores have to be creative and innovative in new menu offerings. However, many operators have to find the balance between the exciting and familiar when ideating and naming dishes. For example, gochujang (red chili paste) is a common ingredient in Korean food, but the name is unfamiliar to many consumers. When using this ingredient, an operator may relate the dish

BREAKFAST BURRITOS POPULAR IN C-STORES f consumers visiting a c-store during 18% obreakfast purchased a breakfast burrito.

Foodservice IP Consumer Survey

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Foodservice Column | Global Flavors

to Korean barbecue to give consumers a point of reference and encourage trial. Another way to appeal to consumer hunger for global flavors is

through fusion cuisine. Fusion foods allow consumers to try global flavors in familiar formats. Going back to the Korean example, a way to make

Source: Foodservice IP Consumer Survey

gochujang more familiar is through the serving vehicle. Consumers are comfortable with tacos and taquitos, so an operator could make Korean food more familiar by serving it in those formats. APPEALING TO GEN Z

Millennials and Gen Z are excited about global cuisines and crave culinary flavors from around the world. American classics might satisfy older consumers, but the younger generations are just as likely to grab a snack inspired by Latin, Indian or Middle Eastern fare. As Gen Z strays from destination retail in favor of local c-stores and drug stores, as well as the increased importance of convenient options for all consumers, there is significant opportunity for convenience stores to take foodservice share from traditional segments. C-stores that develop these globally inspired offerings to highlight those flavors will likely appeal to the impulse decision-making typical of the segment and win over the growing spending power of younger consumers. Julie Hesman is a principal of Foodservice IP. Julie has extensive experience in the foodservice industry managing projects, developing new business, handling P&Ls, market sizing, supply chain research and overseeing the growth of client portfolios. Her experience spans foodservice manufacturers, broadline distributors and chain restaurant operators. She can be reached at (312) 955-0252 or



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Technology | Loyalty


Loyalty Has Its Own

Rewards A loyalty rewards program should be designed around each chain’s unique strengths. Thomas Mulloy • Senior Editor

There’s little doubt that loyalty programs pay off for c-store operators. Loyalty program members are known to purchase more, bringing a higher basket ring per shopping trip. How much more do they spend? According to the June 2019 “C-Store Shopper Report: How to Fuel Customer Loyalty” by Researchscape International, commissioned by software developer PDI, rewards members spend 29% more per visit, dropping on average $11.17 every time they shop, compared to $8.66 for non-members.



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Technology | Loyalty

Casey’s General Stores released its in-house developed mobile app before finalizing a tailormade loyalty rewards program. The app already enhances ease of ordering for regular customers of Casey’s robust pizza program.



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in-house and was ahead of the game as far as technology. “Plus, it just makes ordering Casey’s pizza even easier, so there was no reason to hold it back,” Sebastian said. “It could drive more revenue quicker.” Casey’s wanted to devote more time to fine-tuning plans for a loyalty program, which it plans to introduce later this year.


Gone are the days when a scannable loyalty card was enough to get into the rewards game and draw repeat business. Often, customers would enroll in a rewards program to save on a single purchase, only to cast the card into a crowded console or cluttered glove box.

I think retailers, independent operators, small or large, need to think about what’s the unique value proposition for your loyalty program. If it’s just to have one like everyone else, I think it’ll add some positive impact but may not really be a key differentiator.

Plus, 57% of loyalty members will visit the inside of the store when refueling; only 33% of non-members will walk in. The numbers are nearly reversed for refuelers who gas up and leave — 56% of non-members compared to 38% of members. And while having a mobile app for loyalty customers is considered a must-do, don’t confuse the two. “It feels like they’re one and the same, but they’re not,” said Art Sebastian, vice president of digital experience, marketing and loyalty for Casey’s General Stores, which operates 2,100 locations in 16 Midwest states. “Our mobile app houses e-commerce. It will house our loyalty program. It will house future capabilities like digital payment, or scan and go, and so on.” Casey’s released its mobile application in July –— without a loyalty program in place. The company developed the app

– Art Sebastian, digital director, Casey’s General Stores

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Technology | Loyalty

Pilot Flying J introduced a new app earlier this year. While the app is tied in to the chain’s loyalty program, it also segments the company’s wide-ranging customer base. Professional drivers and RV travelers each have different needs compared to standard gas customers; and the app is equipped to cater to all three segments.

Technology and more savvy marketing have upped the stakes. “C-stores are still a little bit behind loyalty in general,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president at retail consulting firm BRP Consulting. “Where grocery and department stores, they’ve got a higher second-, third-, fourthpurchase type of numbers. But c-store is starting to catch up a little bit, and it’s happening more in the millennial space.” Indeed, “The Loyalty Report

’19” from marketing firm Bond Brand Loyalty found that loyalty programs influence the spending of 67% of younger millennials, ages 24-29, and 62% of Gen Z’s 18-24-year-olds. TAILOR YOUR PROGRAM

This brings us back to Casey’s, which has yet to introduce its rewards program. Sebastian said that’s by design — Casey’s wants the program done properly. “We’re building something that is a little unique and sets us

C-store loyalty member spend more on average than non-members

Source, June 2019 “C-Store Shopper Report: How to Fuel Customer Loyalty” by Researchscape International, commissioned by software developer PDI.



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apart,” he said, “and so that’s just taking a little bit more time for us.” Sebastian said that while retailers without a loyalty program will be playing catch-up, he warned not to jump the gun. Be wary of the urge to move too quickly for the sake of simply having a program. “I think retailers, independent operators, small or large, need to think about what’s the unique value proposition for your loyalty program,” Sebastian said. “If it’s just to have one like everyone else, I think it’ll add some positive impact but may not really be a key differentiator.” Pilot Flying J, with 750 travel centers in 44 states and Canada,

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Technology | Loyalty

For example, if you are a gas customer, you don’t need to see mobile shower reservations, but that’s something that’s super important to the pro driver. We do segment that experience based on who you are.

– Steven Root, senior manager of loyalty marketing, Pilot Flying J

is an excellent example. Steven Root, Pilot’s senior manager of loyalty marketing, said the company’s customer base is made up of a wider sampling of the traveling public. Like the rest of the c-store industry, travelers can fuel up and grab a sandwich and a fountain drink. But Pilot Flying J also serves a significant number of professional drivers who want more than snacks and coffee. “For example, if you are a gas customer, you don’t need to see mobile shower reservations,” Root said, “but that’s something that’s super important to the pro

driver. We do segment that experience based on who you are.” Pilot Flying J doesn’t stop with truckers and families, either. The particular needs of the RV traveler are also on the company’s radar. Each segment has different needs. Similarly, Casey’s strong pizza component sets it apart from much of the industry; the nation’s fourth-largest convenience store chain, it’s also the fifth-largest pizza chain. For both c-store chains, those unique qualities had to be considered when developing their loyalty programs.


The c-store industry lags behind other channels when it comes to beacon technology and geofencing, where the app sends a discount alert or reminder to a member when near a store or in a particular aisle within a store. Kramer said that c-stores are in a wait-and-see mode, adding that quick-service restaurants have been leading the way in that space. “So I think those guys are pioneering a little bit more, and then c-stores will be fast followers,” said Kramer. CSD

fast facts: • Loyalty programs influence the spending of 67% of younger millennials, ages 24-29, and 62% of Gen Z’s 18-24-year-olds, according to Bond Brand Loyalty’s “The Loyalty Report ’19.” • Rewards programs can help differentiate a c-store retailer from the competition. 98


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Technology | Prepaid

Getting Flexible with Prepaid Cards

C-stores are maximizing the potential of the prepaid category by offering branded closed-loop cards, connecting them to loyalty programs and making them digital for added customer convenience. Brad Perkins • Contributing Editor

Consumers love cards. Credit cards are more popular than ever, with the average U.S. household owning 2.5 credit cards, according to U.S. Census data. And as in other retail industries, prepaid cards have exploded in popularity in the convenience store industry because of ease of use, options and portability. “As the No. 1 most-requested gift by U.S. consumers, gift cards are really a customer expectation,” said Darek Mose, consumer card manager at Chevron, which this summer launched a new digital eGift Card that ties into its loyalty program. So while open-loop cards, which generally feature a credit-card company logo and can be used anywhere, remain popular, it’s closedloop cards, which feature a brand name (like Amazon, Apple or the convenience-store brand) and can be used in one location, that are exploding in popularity, leading companies like Chevron to explore their own versions. 100


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(Prepaid cards) expand the ability to sell products beyond your four walls through third-party retailer gift cards like Amazon, Macy’s, Foot Locker, drive customer trips and provide true convenience for gift occasions, holidays and more.

— Derek Gaskins, senior vice president of merchandising and procurement at Yesway

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Technology | Prepaid

fast facts: “Closed-loop in-store gift cards are the largest prepaid segment, the one familiar to most people,” said Sue Brown, director of prepaid advisory service at Mercator Advisory Group. “Retailers and their customers have developed a greater appreciation for the branded currency of closed-loop cards, especially as technology has enabled them to be tied more closely to rewards programs. Another factor contributing to their growth is the immediacy with which cards can be delivered via digital means, whether SMS, email or digital wallet.” Mercator research showed that the overall closed-loop segment grew 3% in 2018 to $95.7 billion and forecasts annual growth of 5% through 2022. And the popularity won’t wane any time soon. Prepaid card market values increased 16.8% from 2014 to 2018 to become a $561 billion industry, according to’s “United States Prepaid Cards Business and Investment Opportunities” report. The report predicted prepaid will grow an additional 12.4% through 2023. The growth is being driven by retailers embracing both thirdparty and branded cards. “The cards continue to be popular and are ideal for the channel,” said Derek Gaskins, senior vice president of merchandising and procurement at Des Moines, Iowabased Yesway, which operates 150 stores in nine states. Prepaid cards only require a small footprint and offer consumers flexibility in managing spending, weekly budgets and gift giving, he added. “(Prepaid cards) expand the ability to sell products beyond your four walls through third-party retailer gift cards like Amazon, Macy’s, Foot Locker, drive customer trips and provide true convenience for gift occasions, holidays and more,” Gaskins said. DIGITAL DELIVERY

Today, prepaid cards at c-stores encompass much more than the one rack of phone cards and third-party cards of yesteryear. While the general use of open-loop cards remains strong for bill pay, healthcare spending accounts and other personal uses, it’s the ability to brand the closed-loop cards, tie them into loyalty programs and make them digital that is attracting both customers and companies. Chevron’s eGift card takes advantage of both the desire for prepaid cards and the desire to have digital versions of those cards. 102


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• It’s not just gift cards. Mercator Advisory Group reports that the business-to-business (B2B) rewards programs and internal corporate rewards programs grew 2% in 2018 to $13.8 billion. • The overall prepaid card market increased 16.8% from 20142018 to reach $561 billion. predicts it will grow an additional 12.4% through 2023 to $897 billion. • Closed-loop in-store gift cards grew 3% in this segment in 2018 to $95.7 billion, according to Mercator Advisory Group, which forecasts a 3% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in this segment through 2022 to $107.7 billion.

“It allows our consumers to pay for fuel and car washes at the dispenser with our Chevron and Texaco apps at stations that are able to process mobile payments,” Mose said, adding that “eGift Cards deliver faster, frictionfree transactions for customers as mobile commerce sales continue to grow. Balances are easily visible in the Chevron and Texaco apps, resolving a longstanding challenge with plastic gift cards.” That challenge can lead to lost balances or security concerns. But by tying the balances into an app, customers know that balances are trackable, secure and available, ensuring that their popular gift or payment method is a viable one. CSD

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security snapshot A Close-Up of Shrinkage Rate Trends at Retail

What skills do you believe you need more of in youR loss prevention department for your programs to be successful or grow?

Inventory Shrink Percentage Calculated at Retail

FY 2018

FY 2017



500 or fewer stores

More than 500 stores

3% and higher shrink







Between 2% and 2.99%







Between 1.5% and 1.99%







Between 1.25% and 1.49%



Computer skills







Between 1% and 1.24%




Between .50% and .99%



Emotional intelligence 28.6%



.49% and below











Source: The National Retail Federation (NRF)’s “2019 National Retail Security Survey,” in partnership with Appriss Retail and the University of Florida. Conducted online Feb. 27 to March 29, 2019. Some 63 retail industry loss prevention and asset protection professionals participated.

• Less LP/AP staff due to restructuring or transition

• Increased focus on the issue of shoplifting • More ORC (Organized Retail Crime) activity • Increase in the number of low- to mid-level shoplifters



• Felony thresholds being raised/ increased in various states

What are the loss prevention awareness programs that your company utilizes? Programs

NRSS 2019

NRSS 2018

Anonymous telephone “hotline”



Discussion during new hire orientation



Bulletin board notices and posters



Code of conduct



Active shooter training program



Internet-based training, videos, etc.



Anonymous online/email notification system



Honesty incentives (eg. cash & gifts)



In-store, employee LP committees








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• Better display standards/ product protection • Less attention to shoplifting and more toward systemic shrink issues • Increased focus on prevention, instead of apprehension

# Source:“31st Annual Retail Theft Survey 2019,” Jack L. Hayes International Inc., Thoughts Behind The Numbers - Shoplifting. Participants: 20 large retail companies with 13,674 stores and over $330 billion in retail sales (2018).

• Fewer associates on the sales floor, creating more opportunities for shoplifters

Source: NRF’s “2019 National Retail Security Survey”

• More preventative measures in place (ie. Public View Monitors, Greeters, etc.)

Theft By The Numbers ã 17% Total Theft ã 11.8% Shoplifters ã 30.1% Dishonest Employees 279,196 Apprehensions: 279,196

shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended in 2018, down 11.8% from 2017.

$114 M Dollars recovered from appre-

hended thieves in 2018, an increase of 3.2%.

$12.79 was lost to retail theft for every

$1 recovered. Only 7.8% of total retail theft losses resulted in a recovery in 2018.

Source: “31st Annual Retail Theft Survey 2019,” Jack L. Hayes International Inc.

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Operations | Store Design


Store Designs

Retailers are renovating and updating to expand profitable areas of the store and attract today’s more discriminating consumers. Lisa White • Contributing Editor

C-stores of yesteryear just won’t cut it in today’s more sophisticated and diverse convenience channel. While many of the same products remain, they are being overshadowed by restaurant-quality foodservice programs, high-end beverage offerings and beer caves that rival some liquor stores. Savvy c-store retailers are successfully modernizing their locations to best attract today’s high customer expectations. A DIFFERENT PROTOTYPE

7-Eleven’s Lab Store concept, built from the ground up in Dallas, features modern fixtures and an updated design that is different than its traditional format. The Irving, Texas-based chain began construction on the Lab Store location in the fall of 2018 and officially opened its doors on March 4 of this year. “The store features a beer cave and growler station with local and craft beer, cider and ales; a made-to-order drink station; a new beverage platform with items such as nitro cold brew, kombucha on tap and soft serve ice cream; a sweet cold treats bar with frozen yogurt bar and multiple mixes and add-ins,” said Chris Tanco, the 66,579-store chain’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We also feature Laredo Taco Co., which made its Dallas-Fort Worth debut at this store as well as indoor and outdoor dining areas.” The primary goal of the concept store is to enhance the 7-Eleven customer 106


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Salt Lake City-based Maverik is always looking at new materials and colors. An analytics group studies all data pre- and post-remodel and makes tweaks to programs to increase the return on those investments.

experience, and the Lab Store will allow 7-Eleven’s Store Evolution Team to test new concepts as well as digital initiatives in a real-life, real-time environment. FITTING IN

When Don Rhoads, owner of Vancouver, Wash.-based The Convenience Group LLC (TCG) bought the company in 2000, many of its 10 companyowned Minit Mart Stores (it also has five franchised locations) were built in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The plan was to change the look of the stores to complement the communities in which they are operating. One store, built in 1972, oper-

ated on a site that held a similar store since 1930. “A neighbor gave me a photo of the original store, and we thought it would be cool if we could duplicate it,” said Rhoads. “We ended up remodeling the store to accentuate the community’s history. ...” Along with personalizing each store’s story in relation to its community, the offerings are now more diverse and include a mix of grocery items, including

fruits and vegetables. In particular, beer is big in TCG’s stores, and in some is attributed to 30% of sales. “We’re the largest smallformat seller of craft beer in southwest Washington and one of the top five sellers in the state,” said Rhoads. “Beer and wine is our brand, and we carry a lot from the Northwest.” Its store updates included both the interior and exterior, with truss roofs and décor October 2019 • CSTORE DECISIONS

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fast facts: • The Lab Store will allow 7-Eleven’s Store Evolution Team to test new concepts as well as digital initiatives in a real-life, real-time environment. • Beer is big in TCG’s stores, and in some is attributed to 30% of sales.

Flory’s convenience stores overhauled its coffee program, which entailed rehabbing the coffee counter areas with new cabinetry, granite counters and tile backsplash and adding Flory’s Café.

unique to the Pacific Northwest, including a lot of wood as an element of the design. “We’re also big on cooler infrastructure, whether it’s the freezer, walk-in or doors,” said Rhoads. “We finished stores with 30 doors because I want to keep all the product behind these.” This also increases efficiency, as it prevents team members from having to go from one end of the store to another loading products. “We’re currently working on three large developments, one of which is a 5,000-square-foot store,” said Rhoads. “All will have a larger footprint and a Northwest feel.” FINISHING TOUCHES

In the first quarter of 2019, Atlantabased RaceTrac was busy making design tweaks to its 5.5 prototype. “After about 18 months of planning, tweaking and perfecting, we’re proud to announce our 5.5 2.0, our newest store prototype,” said Brandon Collier, the 670-store chain’s director of architecture and design. “Our goals with the redesign were to get our advanced grab-and-go 108


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foodservice offering in our stores and make updates to our store layout to make the guest path through the store simpler and more enjoyable.” Upgrades were also made to exterior patios, and store interiors were opened up for improved product visibility. “We also made tweaks to the back of house, adding a delivery door and optimizing the floor fixture layout based on guest flow and store operations,” said Collier. The first 5.5 2.0 opened in Hickory Creek, Texas at the beginning of April. RaceTrac is also expanding into Tennessee with this prototype. The chain plans to open seven Tennessee store locations this year and a total of 50 stores by 2023. MINI REHABS

Overhauling the coffee program was a priority early this year for Flory’s four locations in Hopewell Junction, Mahopac and Fishkill, N.Y. “We rehabbed coffee counter areas with new cabinetry, granite counters and tile backsplashes,” said Partner Jamy Flory. “We pulled out our

October 2019

• At Flory’s, the LED lights have resulted in lower electricity costs and better product illumination in the coolers.

existing coffee brand and brought in Flory’s Café. It was well-received and makes more sense financially.” When it was discovered that there was a push for craft beers, unique brews and energy drinks at two of its locations that were short on cooler space, the door cooler was transformed into a mini beer cave. “We created storage outside and brought in standard stand-up ice cream coolers,” said Flory. “This created more walk-in room and enabled us to expand our beer offerings.” Stores closed for 24 hours to add LED lighting throughout the store and in the coolers and expand the foodservice program. “The goal of the rehab was to refresh,” said Flory. “The LED lights have resulted in lower electricity costs and better product illumination in the coolers. Going to an outside cooler box opened up room in the deli area for work space. We now offer six hot foods daily.” Walls were removed in two stores, opening up the kitchen area for better customer interaction.

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Operations | Store Design

The Convenience Group LLC’s (TCG) Minit Mart Stores updated stores and included 30 cooler doors to provide a more diverse array of beverages for customers.

“We also created areas behind the register for vape products and hemp lines, which are huge sellers and growing categories for us,” said Flory. UPDATING & EXPANDING

In the 1960s, one of Pleasant Prairie, Wis.-based Open Pantry Food Mart’s first stores in Madison was recognized for innovation. Fast forward to 2018, and the store required significant updating to meet the needs of today’s customers. “When we decided to totally remodel the store, we realized there was an inappropriate amount of back storage space versus sales floor space,” said James Schutz, managing director of the eight-store chain. The renovation included pushing the cashier area seven feet to the west and about 20 feet to the north, which opened space for food bars and open-air coolers with grab-andgo and healthy options. “Before, we didn’t have the opportunity to provide grab-and-go foods, salads and fruits,” said Schutz. “The inside of the store took on a whole different shape and design. It was 110


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our goal to open the store up to get in products and food offerings we needed.” Another issue was the restroom, which only provided access from outside the store. “We kept the restroom location the same, but we installed a hallway for customers to enter the bathroom from inside the store,” said Schutz. Restroom updates also included a new sink, waterfall faucet and stainless-steel dispensers. The revamp took about seven weeks, yet the store remained open. Open Pantry celebrated the store’s grand re-opening at the end of March. It also recently completed a renovation at its Bayside, Wis., site. “We expanded the six-foot coffee area to 15 feet and put in a food island and open-air sandwich and salad cooler,” said Schutz. The Bayside renovation involved removing the side of the building and expanding the store. The renovation took about two months. RESTROOM REVAMPS

With more than 325 stores, North Salt Lake, Utah-based Maverik Inc.

October 2019

is involved with 140 update projects each year, and has a dedicated department to handle site expansions, remodels and acquisitions.“Some are very simple, like switching out a bakery case, and some are total remodels,” said Sarah Kovac, Maverik’s director of architecture and engineering. With some sites attracting increasing traffic and tour buses, the company decided it was time for extensive restroom expansions to accommodate these customers. “Most will double in size, combining the existing men’s and women’s rooms into one and adding an additional restroom on the exterior,” said Kovac. Maverik added tile on both the floors and walls and updated the fixtures and lighting. The exterior landscape graphics on the walls of the stores’ floor are mimicked in the restrooms. “We’re always looking at new materials and colors,” said Kovac. “We have an analytics group that analyzes all data pre- and post-remodel and makes tweaks to programs to increase the return on those investments.” CSD

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Operations | A c q u i s i t i o n s

Acquisition Financing with a

Hand from Uncle Sam

The SBA 7(a) loan has been streamlined and can assist acquisition-minded c-store retailers. Mark Battersby • Contributing Editor

Many convenience store retailers consider the Small Business Administration (SBA) as a cumbersome lender of last resort. However, in an attempt to shed that image, the SBA has made a number of changes. Its flagship lending program, the SBA 7(a) loan, long known for its financial assistance to franchises, as well as an excellent way to establish a new business, has been streamlined and modified. The SBA’s 7(a) program can be a desirable option when seeking to acquire a business. With an SBA loan, it is the bank that makes the loan, while the debt is partially guaranteed by the SBA. This allows the bank to provide credit for a borrower who might otherwise have difficulty obtaining a loan with similarly favorable terms. The SBA acts much like an insurance company, allowing the bank or financial institution to extend beyond its conventional credit reach. 112


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Operations | A c q u i s i t i o n s

fast facts: • The Small Business Administration (SBA) has slashed the 7(a) loan program’s equity injection requirements to 10%, enabling banks to finance up to 90% of the deal. In addition to the size of the business, a borrower must meet other SBA requirements, which include limits on net worth, average net income and overall loan size. There may also be extensive paperwork for the applicant that involves submitting details on accounts receivable, personal as well as business tax information, along with financial statements, both personal and business. The average 7(a) loan amount was $425,000 in 2018, according to the SBA. The program’s maximum loan amount remains at $5 million. Under the old rules for acquisition loans, deals with more than $500,000 in goodwill required a 25% seller note or buyer equity. Deals with less than $500,000 in goodwill required 20% seller note/buyer equity.

• The SBA acts much like an insurance company, allowing financial institutions to extend beyond their conventional credit reach. • When considering an SBA loan, it’s helpful to find a lender who is part of the SBA’s Preferred Lender Program (PLP).


Today, the SBA has slashed the 7(a) loan program’s equity injection requirements to 10%, enabling banks to finance up to 90% of the deal. Of the 10% equity requirement, 5% must come in the form of cash from the buyer, while the balance can be in the form of a seller note. If the equity injection is through a seller’s note, the standby now extends through the life of the loan instead of the former two-year restriction. A conventional business acquisition loan is usually based on a three- or five-year term. This can make it tough for the c-store business to meet the debt servicing requirements of most lenders. Using an SBA loan, the acquisition loan can be stretched out over seven or even 10 years. This means lower payments and makes it easier for the borrower to meet the debt service requirements of the lender. Although the amount and type of financial information required under the SBA is the same information required with more conventional, non-SBA banking options, it does require numerous documents and can be tedious. OPTIONS FOR SUPPORT

Thus, when considering an SBA loan, it is helpful to seek out a lender that is part of the SBA’s Preferred Lender Program (PLP).



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After all, PLP lenders know how to determine eligibility, can properly structure the loan and collect all of the appropriate documents. PLP status allows the bank to approve the loan without waiting for the SBA’s approval. SBA loan programs typically involved independent small businesses with franchisees considered an affiliate and ineligible for a loan. Today, however, franchisers can have their brand listed in FRANdata, a third-party registry, along with a pre-negotiated amendment to their agreement that makes them eligible for SBA financing. Professional advice is still strongly recommended. But thanks to the SBA’s new rules and guidelines combined with a stronger economy, many c-store retailers who previously postponed acquisitions and expansions may now be poised to move ahead with acquisitions. The SBA’s 7(a) loan program may be an excellent tool for that growth, expansion or acquisition. CSD

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Operations | Car Wash

Is A Car Wash Right for Your Site? C-stores are driving profits with both tunnel and in-bay automatic car washes, but both take commitment and careful consideration. Erin Del Conte • Executive Editor

Car washes offer promising new profit centers for convenience stores.

VERC Enterprises operates two standalone tunnel car washes, plus six in-bay automatic car washes at its c-store sites. “We started out in the tunnel business back in 1974, and shortly after, we got into the convenience store business,” said Paul Vercollone, senior vice president for VERC Enterprises, which operates 31 c-stores throughout eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In those days, gas stations weren’t doing a highquality car wash business, Vercollone noted. In New England, c-store lots were small and couldn’t always fit a tunnel car wash.

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Then in the 1990s, touchless automatic car wash performance improved, and c-stores began seeing the value of offering a car wash service to gas customers. “We said, ‘Well, let’s try one.’ So we did at our Plymouth, Mass. site. …” Vercollone said. “We chose a touchless in-bay automatic over cloth because it differentiated from the surrounding tunnel operators. The tunnel operators in this market are all pretty much cloth operations.” The business proved successful, but a big part of its success has been VERC’s commitment to ensuring quick maintenance fixes. At VERC’s standalone tunnel operations, managers are mechanics prepared to address maintenance issues. “If there’s a problem, they’ll have that up and running,” he said. But at the c-stores, managers are busy with the operations of the c-store, and the car wash is self-contained on the property. If an issue can’t be resolved with a system reboot, the store needs to rely on service from the equipment manufacturer. Given that challenge, VERC Enterprises ensured the manufacturer understood it expected speedy service for any maintenance issues. “The big thing was to keep the car wash up and running and, if it went down, to get it up and running right away,” Vercollone said. WACKY WEDNESDAY

VERC Enterprises does a number of promotions to attract customers, including ‘Wacky Wednesday’ where car washes are half price. “Usually on Wednesday, we’ll have a long line of cars. The in-bay automatics can only wash one car every four to five minutes,” Vercollone said. If customers don’t want to wait in line on Wednesday, they can purchase the car wash for the Wacky Wednesday half-price rate, but return to claim it whenever they choose. “That works well for the customer,” he said. On Sundays, VERC’s slowest day for gas sales, it offers 20 cents off per gallon when customers purchase a car wash. For a basic wash, which includes a wash and dry, VERC

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Operations | Car Wash

VERC Enterprises operates six in-bay automatic car washes at its c-store properties, as well as two standalone car washes. The chain uses promotions to attract customers, including ‘Wacky Wednesday’ where car washes are half price.

Enterprises charges about $11. A top wash runs $22. “Then there are a couple of washes in between before you get to the top wash, and by the time you get to the top wash, you get all the bells and whistles,” he said. Vercollone said about 40% of customers purchase the top wash, “and then it breaks down fairly evenly all the way to the bottom.” He expects more customers select the top tier package because they see the difference in quality. WATER RECLAMATION

VERC recycles the water through a filtration system. While the filtration system is “fairly expensive to install,” it allows VERC to do the high-pressure washing with reclaimed water. “The rinse water does have to be fresh,” he said. “In some towns, we need to put that water through a filtration before we can rinse with it because the minerals in the water will

still spot the car. Especially in any of the automatics, the touchless, that rinse water is very important to get all the suspended solids out of the water so you get a good fresh rinse.” Recycling water also reduces the water and sewer bills for VERC Enterprises, and some towns require car washes to recycle water. When the tunnel washes use recycled water, the car wash uses only 12-15 gallons of fresh water per wash, while customers washing a car at home would use around 100-125 gallons. Washing at home also means soaps and oils from the road go into the storm drain and the environment. “But we collect it on site and dispose of it properly,” Vercollone said. Operating a successful and quality car wash takes effort, knowledge of car wash equipment, and monitoring of chemical levels and mechanical issues. “C-store retailers have got to make a big commitment if they want to get into the business,” he said. Third-party maintenance services can be expensive, which is one reason, Vercollone said, retailers can’t be afraid to charge properly for the car wash. SPLASH IN

Earlier this year, Dash In, a Wills Group company, debuted an all-new neighborhood store concept in Clinton, Md., that included the first Splash In ECO Tunnel Conveyor Car Wash and debuted an Unlimited Car Wash Club. The 85-foot eco tunnel conveyor car wash features a belt conveyor capable of washing low118


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profile vehicles and dual rear wheel pickup trucks. The Clinton site marks Dash In’s foray into tunnel car washes. “To understand the difference between the tunnel and the in-bays, you’ve really first got to understand the difference in the customer journeys,” said Mike Mulhern, director of Splash In ECO Car Wash. “At an in-bay automatic, which is a traditional car wash you see at cstores, you pull your car into the wash bay, you place it in park, and the machine moves around the vehicles and washes it,” Mulhern said. “At Clinton, in our tunnel car wash, you pull into a belt conveyor and the conveyor pulls you through the stationary equipment to wash your car.” Moving to a tunnel car wash will allow Dash In to service more cars and more customers. The eco-friendly car wash uses 100% biodegradable chemicals and a reclaim system. “We reclaim up to 50% of our fresh water, and it goes through a purification system, and then we reuse it. We use LED lighting throughout the entire building,” he said. “We have closed foam insulation, which keeps it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. In addition, we also have a central vacuum system in Clinton.” The central vacuum system is basically two big turbines that each

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Operations | Car Wash

At Splash In, the “best” membership costs $39 per month — $19 for a single wash — and customers can wash every day of the month if they wish. The “boost” is $34 a month, and the “basic” wash runs $29 per month.

power six vacuum stalls. It has a variable frequency drive (VFD), which saves energy. “As people take the hoses off the machine, it throttles up, so when nobody is using the machine, it will throttle itself down to reduce energy consumption,” Mulhern said. Two digital LED reader boards welcome customers at the entry of the wash and show the wash purchased. The energy savings is not only a plus from a business perspective, but also appeals to customers who value environmentally friendly practices. There are 42 Splash In locations across the Mid-Atlantic, plus two in-bay car washes under construction and more planned for 2020. Aside from the new Clinton location, all are in-bay automatics. The in-bay car washes don’t require employees, other than to ensure the proper change is available. Depending on the day and time, the tunnel wash requires three to five employees: a manager, greeter and someone to help load cars onto the belt.


The tunnel wash features the chain’s first Ultimate Car Wash Club, although the chain is doing internal research on possibly rolling it out to additional locations in the future. “Car wash memberships are becoming very popular,” Mulhern said. The chain also runs an internal employee membership program that it uses to pilot potential new services.

fast facts: • While tunnel washes can service more customers per minute, in-bay automatic car washes require fewer employees to operate the car wash. • Opening a car wash business may seem easy, but it takes knowledge and a big commitment. • A range of wash packages can meet the needs of various customers. 120


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“The best way to keep a clean car is to wash frequently,” he said. “And the car wash membership allows you to do that. You can wash once per day, every day of the month. It has an automatic renewal each month, so it’s seamless for customers.” Customers can purchase a membership to the Ultimate Car Wash Club online ahead of visiting the car wash. The membership uses an RFID (radio-frequency identification) tag similar to paying tolls with an Easy Pass to identify members. The tunnel car wash is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and features three different wash packages: best, boost and basic. “Based on the 41 in-bay automatics we have, we believe we’re giving our customers a great experience,” Mulhern said. “We said, ‘Hey, let’s take this up a level. Let’s get into tunnel car wash so we can get people through faster, wash more cars and make more customers happy.’” CSD

9/16/19 8:28 AM



CStoreDecisions 2019 Chain of the Year


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Operations Column | Hispanic Consumers


HISPANIC CONSUMERS C-stores can best market to Hispanic demographics by stocking products and brands these shoppers desire, encouraging high-quality customer service and seeking shopper feedback. Sylvia Klinger • Hispanic Food Communications Inc.

In today’s competitive market, all retailers are vying for an edge over the competition. Learning best practices allows convenience stores to grow their clientele efficiently — and the same holds true for retaining Hispanic shoppers. Knowing we have a diverse population drives owners to learn more about serving consumers with different needs. Hispanics, in particular, are important to c-stores because they have a high amount of purchasing power, enjoy buying at these stores and are loyal customers. The U.S. Hispanic population reached a record 59.9 million in 2018, up 1.2 million over 2017 and up from 47.8 million in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, as reported by Pew Research Center. 122


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Convenience stores can follow these top five tips for attracting Hispanic consumers and, most importantly, retaining them in the long run.

1. Respect differences – No two people are

alike. Embrace shoppers for who they are and offer them what they are uniquely seeking.

2. Ask their opinions – Asking your custom-

ers for their favorite preferences will initiate long-term friendships and make for satisfied customers. Encourage employees to inquire about their favorite products and, when possible, obtain them promptly.

3. Excel in customer service – In my humble opinion, this is the top priority for any business owner, especially if you want to attract

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2020 May 4-5


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Operations Column | Hispanic Consumers

If you have Hispanic shoppers, adding foodservice items that appeal to them like tamales, burritos, tortas and so on can help them feel welcome in your stores. The best way to know what customers want is to ask them.

Hispanics. Helping shoppers feel like your employees care for their needs is vital for keeping your customers engaged and happy.

4. Interact with customers – No

matter how busy your staff is every day, encouraging them to greet customers with a simple ‘Hello’ — or even better, by their names — is going to make your clients feel welcome. Hearing your name always warms the heart.

5. Get to know the families – When

your Hispanic customers bring their families, go out of your way to show them you are here to service them. Family is everything, and they appreciate and value when store staff go out of their way to help them.

Identify the cultural background of your Hispanic demographic to ensure you are providing the appropriate products.



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To get you started, I have come out with a list of items Hispanic shoppers are generally seeking. Take into consideration that every country has its own preferences. I have added a number of items that are geared towards the Mexican demographic specifically, as Mexicans comprise the majority of the Hispanics in the U.S. However, make sure to identify the cultural background of your Hispanic demographic to ensure you are providing the appropriate products. Products to consider: Beverage flavors – diet sodas, flavors such as pineapple, grape, orange, strawberry, mandarin Alcoholic beverages – cold beer is a prefered adult beverage Sugar-free beverages / foods – prepared coffee and sodas in sugar-free varieties are popular among Hispanics, especially those who are diabetic Desserts/sweets – flan, custards, paletas (Mexican-style popsicles), Mexican individually packed candy — for example, obleas with cajeta (candy made with wafers and goat’s milk filling, similar to dulce de leche); meringue; Mexican gum, such as Chiclets, or other Mexican candy

October 2019

Bread – pan dulce (packaged sweet bread), Cuban bread, tortillas, rice Dairy – Mexican cheese such as queso fresco, Mexican crema (similar to sour cream), canned milk Snacks – chips with added chile, cheese or lime, chicharron (fried pork skins), plantain chips, galletas por soda (round and thick cracker), Gansito (a Mexican snack cake) or toasted garbanzo beans Packaged items – Mexican hot chocolate, instant soups, prepared coffee with flavors Entrees/protein – tamales, burritos, tortas, Cuban sandwich, refried beans in squeeze-type bags Fruits and veggies – Bananas, mangos, tomatoes, avocados, mandarins, cut pre-packaged fruit with chile, dried fruits Sauces – Mexican hot sauces (to add to fruits, soups, eggs and so on) Sylvia Klinger is the founder of Hispanic Food Communications Inc., a nutrition and food communications consulting company. An expert in cross-cultural Hispanic food and culture as it relates to nutrition and health, Sylvia has been a consultant for major food, beverage, agricultural and pharmaceutical companies, as well as nonprofit organizations for more than a decade.

9/13/19 4:14 PM is geared toward C-Store retailers, convenience store suppliers, and distributors looking to stay abreast of industry trends, new product offerings and category management best practices.

CStoreDecisions .com Making Connections that Drive Business

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9/12/19 11:34 AM

Special Report | Convenience Directions


An interactive Idea Exchange with leading suppliers and vendors illuminates what’s shaping the market and what new ideas convenience store owners can take away to better their businesses. Best of all, there is no charge for these exclusive events.

A CStore Decisions Staff Report

Are you a convenience store chain concerned about emerging trends and how to connect with your customers? How would you like to get valuable input on new products and category insights that relate exclusively to your market? How would you like this all free of charge? If this piques your interest, it’s time to partner with Convenience Directions. Convenience Directions offers exclusive study groups centered around Idea Exchange meetings that are designed to identify the latest industry trends, best-in-class standards and recommendations to drive bottom-line profits. The retailer benefits from the industry experience and recommendations of the senior management from 20-plus diverse supplier companies. The recommendations are custom-fitted to the needs of the chain. Most meetings discuss general information, which is helpful, but Convenience Directions Idea Exchange meetings are constructed to leave retailers with bottom-line-improving ideas. Moreover, through the Idea Exchanges, sponsor companies get to know the entire senior management team of a company, understand their goals and objectives and present category information to the retailer. Ongoing productive relationships are established in this setting, which is difficult to replicate in any other venue. For nearly 20 years, these Idea Exchanges have attracted the leading c-store chains in the industry. CStore Decisions, which acquired Convenience Directions from Joe Leonardo and Randy Fulkerson



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in 2013, has conducted meetings for Yesway, Nouria Energy, Maverik, TravelCenters of America, MFA Oil, truenorth, Country Fair, Kent Kwik, Gate Petroleum and many others over the past five years. The Convenience Directions program, led by John Lofstock, editor-in-chief of CStore Decisions, brings together a valuable discourse for both retailers and suppliers. INFO EXCHANGE

What Convenience Directions does is unique to the marketplace in that we combine the InfoMarketing newsletter, which is mailed quarterly to over 10,000 c-store executives, with three Idea Exchange meetings annually. The newsletters give sponsor companies a forum to communicate category information, new product introductions and best practices to the industry. Retailers get great information on a variety of categories and services in a quick-read format. Suppliers that participate are guaranteed category exclusivity. These suppliers represent many key product and service categories being employed by c-stores and provide unequaled knowledge about their respective category. These industry specialists convene as a group to meet with the management personnel of leading c-store chains, on a proprietary basis, one chain at a time. These two-day sessions are conducted and financed entirely by Convenience Directions. If your chain is interested in hosting an Idea Exchange, contact John Lofstock at

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® A Convenience Store Decisions Publication


Create a Tea Destination with TEAZZERS TEAZZERS is one of the nation’s largest suppliers of fresh brewed teas and other specialty dispensed beverages. Our special house blended teas and state of the art brewing process deliver the best of the best, with every single glass – just ask all of our competitors who lost in those taste tests. In 1996, TEAZZERS changed the iced tea game with its patented T-100 single cup brewer. Today, in addition to selling and supporting commercial brewers from brands such as Bunn and Curtis, TEAZZERS is proud to deliver its newest innovation, the TEAZZERS SmartBrew system. Created in partnership with Newco, a leading beverage solutions trailblazer, TEAZZERS SmartBrew is IOT-enabled with capabilities to communicate information about each brewing event to a cloud database. The machine is equipped with an 8-inch touchscreen display, BIB sweetener storage under the urns, remote recipe management, and freshness timers, all for enhanced category management. It takes a special company to patent a process for something as ancient as tea, but our team is never done thinking up better ways to brew. If you’re not carrying TEAZZERS fresh-brewed tea, you’re missing out on providing your customers an on-trend, healthier and oh-so-satisfying alternative to other beverages. Not to mention more profits for you. After all, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world.

Let us help you determine the best tea and equipment program for you, and transform your retail location into a tea destination, with TEAZZERS.

For more information, visit

BIC Lighter Safety Report: Low-Quality Lighter Imports Create Urgent Need for Lighter Safety Education Findings Reaffirm Urgent Need for Lighter Safety Education lighter safety standards consistent with specifications that are mandatory in many other parts of the world. However, BIC found that 70% of lighter models tested from the U.S. did not meet these safety standards. This means that many lighters available for purchase could potentially lead to serious fires, property damages or injuries. “The BIC Lighter Safety Report is intended to educate consumers on the potential dangers of low-quality lighters and ensure they are taking the necessary steps to protect themselves and their families when purchasing, using and storing lighters,” said Mary Fox, General Manager of BIC North America. BIC, a world leader in manufacturing safe, high-quality lighters, unveiled its inaugural Lighter Safety Report drawing attention to a concerning influx of low-quality, unsafe lighter imports into the United States. This finding, paired with a lack of education about lighter safety, threatens consumers’ safety. Twenty-five years ago, with the support of BIC, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) mandated that all lighters, like BIC, sold in the U.S. have enhanced child-resistant features to reduce the risk of children accidentally starting fires with lighters. While that is the only requirement issued by the CPSC, ASTM International, a standards-developing organization, established voluntary

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Additionally, BIC will be incorporating data from the report into its fire safety education play safe! Be safe!® program, hosted in partnership with Fireproof Children. Since 1994, more than 120,000 fire safety education kits have been distributed across the U.S. and Canada, reaching close to 30 million children. BIC also teamed up with fire safety experts to encourage safer lighter practices for families. In May, BIC hosted a lighter exchange at SunFest music festival, replacing attendees’ lighters with an iconic BIC Lighter, trusted for its consistent high-quality and safety. Full report findings and tips are available on the BIC website: October 2019 • CSTORE DECISIONS


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The Latest Product Innovation from Republic Tobacco L.P.


Meet the Newest Member of the SweeTARTS Licorice Family We’re crazy passionate about making candy. Every obsession-worthy creation has a sweet flavor with a tart edge. It grabs hold of your senses and shakes them up, reminding you that amazing things happen when you jump into your passions. It’s no surprise that SweeTARTS Ropes beats all national-branded licorice at +17.5% YTD1, growing 5x faster than the Total Licorice Segment! That’s why we are so excited to introduce to you the newest mouthwatering member of our licorice family: Tangy Strawberry Soft & Chewy Ropes. Now available in a 3.5oz Share Pack, it is the perfect complement to our award-winning Cherry Punch Soft & Chewy Ropes. Indexing high with millennial consumers2, SweeTARTS Ropes delivers its signature thrilling jolt of flavor with the bendable fun of a soft licorice. This combination makes candy lovers go crazy about SweeTARTS and about life. SweeTARTS believes that extreme passions move the world forward and unapologetically inspires passionate misfits to come out and play. What gets you excited about life? We invite you to come explore the magical world where sweet and tart collide. #FollowYourTART. For more information, please visit us at 1 2

Nielsen Total U.S. Convenience YTD ending 03.24.18. IRI Product Demographics, May 2017.

Republic Tobacco Proudly Presents J◊B® Virgin Rolling Papers The nation’s largest RYO/MYO distributor, Republic Tobacco, is delighted to introduce J◊B® Virgin. For generations, J◊B® has been a beloved, iconic, family-owned brand, and the #1 selling premium rolling paper in the United States. The innovative new Virgin line represents the brand’s dedication to serving the discerning consumer of today by appealing to their desire to follow an eco-friendly, environmentally conscious lifestyle, and a true taste experience. J◊B® Virgin is vegan, GMO free, and made from responsibly harvested fibers that retain their native brown hue. As always, J◊B® Virgin is made in France and uses an always-sticks, natural, organic acacia gum. J◊B® Virgin is ultra-thin and slightly porous for comfortable, smooth rolling and a truer taste to please experienced and novice consumers alike. J◊B® Virgin Rolling Papers are available in 1-1/4, 1-1/2, Single Wide, and Slim sizes while being packed as 40 boxes per case. A 4-box counter display is available for merchandising and various POP are available to support the brand. Let us help today! To learn more about what rolling papers can do for your bottom line and grow your OTP category, contact us using the information below: Contact a Republic Tobacco customer service representative at (800) 288-8888 or Mark Lopofsky at

ConvenienceWorks® by Hussmann®… Your Total Solution Provider Your Total Solution Provider

Attract more shoppers to your store.


your fresh and prepared food sales.



your operating costs.

Improve your overall operating performance.

ConvenienceWorks by Hussmann has been serving the convenience store industry for many years with equipment, services and solutions that meet the everyday needs of the retailers. We are dedicated to providing you with the essential benefits that: • ATTRACT more shoppers to your stores • GROW your fresh and prepared food sales • LOWER your operating costs • IMPROVE your overall operating performance ConvenienceWorks is built on the legacy and expertise of Hussmann Corporation, which is recognized as a leader in refrigeration and merchandising solutions for retailers selling fresh foods. We are part of the Panasonic Corporation and can bring more innovation and technology to our total solution offering for the convenience store industry. From store planning and equipment selection to turnkey project management and after sale support, ConvenienceWorks by Hussmann is your total solution provider to maximize your sales and profits. Call ConvenienceWorks by Hussmann at 877.543.6034.


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Kellogg’s Snack Solutions

Jack Link’s Continues Innovation Domination Jack Link’s Protein Snacks continues to transform the protein snacking game by developing products that bring new consumers to the category and create new protein snacking occasions. For 2019 innovation, portability and on-the-go snacking continue to be key platforms for the company as it extends its presence outside the main meat snack set. The new products include Jack Link’s Smoked Beef Sausages, Jack Link’s Steak Bites and Cold Crafted Linkwich. “We are on a mission to make protein snacking accessible to everyone,” said TD Dixon, chief marketing officer at Jack Link’s Protein Snacks. “Consumers continue to seek more protein in their diet, so we’ve focused our innovation efforts, whether that be form, packaging or flavors, to provide consumers new opportunities to engage in the category. These efforts are creating incredible growth for our customers and the entire category.” Jack Link’s 2019 new products include: • Jack Link’s Steak Bites: Eating America’s #1 meat snack brand on the go just got easier, thanks to Jack Link’s Steak Bites. In a category that is dominated by sugar, fat, and calories found in sweets and nuts, Jack Link’s takes out the competition with new Steak Bites, offered in a one-handed, tear-andeat snack pack. Jack Link’s Steak Bites give consumers exactly what they want – a high-protein, low-fat, handheld snack at an awesome value. Made with 100% beef, the steak bites are an excellent source of protein with 17g of protein in one single pack and only 110 calories. Launch includes two flavor varieties, Original and Teriyaki. • Cold Crafted Linkwich: In 2018, Jack Link’s launched Cold Crafted, a new line of fresh and convenient snacking in a refrigerated format. After incredible in-market success, Cold Crafted is introducing the ultimate breadless sandwich, Cold Crafted Linkwich. The Linkwich line includes a grab-and-go combo offering 15g of protein in one serving and only 1g of carbs and sugar. Launch includes three varieties: Colby Jack & Hard Salami, Pepper Jack & Genoa Salami and Cheddar & Hard Salami. • Jack Link’s Smokehouse Beef Sausages: In what promises to be the company’s most craveable eating experience yet, Jack Link’s new Smokehouse line brings true craft-style products to the meat snack category. Smokehouse Beef Sausages will be the first product launched under the new line. Sausages continue to be the fastest growing meat segment, and Jack Link’s is taking it one step further, introducing a 100% beef smoked sausage snack option. The launch includes two flavor varieties, Original and Hot & Spicy.

Seasonal promotions can be a great way to increase sales and profits during specific times of year. These special offers, discounts or limited-edition products can be tied to a specific holiday; a certain time of year, such as back-to-school; or even a major sporting event, when fans love to show team pride. Attracting attention to your business during these times can help increase revenue at an otherwise quiet period. Increasing interest at unique times of the year through seasonal promotions can also give operators an opportunity to convert one-time customers into loyal patrons by providing a high-quality experience that also boosts their store brand and visibility among customers. Seasonal promotion periods provide a unique opportunity to meet consumer needs with a selection of snack and grab-and-go options – from salty to sweet and savory, single-serve to shareable. Kellogg’s® can help you provide a wide variety of choices, including Rice Krispies Treats®, Pringles®, Pop-Tarts® and Cheez-It®.

Visit to learn more about the entire portfolio of Jack Link’s snacks. ®

Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water


Bottled Water • The #1 Beverage Category in all retail channels, due to consumers shifting towards Healthy Hydration to fulfill their beverage needs.


Premium Still Water • A key driver of the Category Growth, growing at 16% and projected to continue growing with PET being the #1 Format. • New Premium Still Brands introduced in the last 3 Years accounted for over 75% of the Premium Segment Growth • New Households have been entering the Premium Still Category rapidly, with over 25% new Households in the last year. • Consumers have gravitated to Segment due to the Quality of the Nestlé Waters North America, Inc. Source, Taste and Functional Benefits that Premium Waters have proven to provide. Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water • Positioned perfectly to capitalize on and drive the growth of the Premium Still Segment. Bottled at the source in Tuscany, it has a unique mineral balance which is naturally alkaline giving it a distinctively smooth taste. • Consumers have spoken and love the taste of Acqua Panna which is driving significant growth in Convenience at +19%. • The expanded Portfolio fits Consumers needs perfectly, with new sleek PET Bottles in a 750ml Flip Cap Top and 1L Size, both perfect for On-the-Go consumption.

®, TM, © 2018 Kellogg NA Co.

In Grocery, Acqua Panna currently outperforms many Premium Brands that are commonly found in C-Store Cold Vaults while driving 21% Growth and High Margins.

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Prairie City Bakery Introduces a New Soft, Frosted Cookie Snacking occasions continue to be on the rise and more than ever, consumers are snacking multiple times a day. This trend, in turn, has consumers increasingly searching for convenient, portable products that allow them a balance between health and indulgence. Cookies uniquely fill this need by offering consumers hand held convenience, a versatile platform for unique flavors and a variety of different portion sizes. These top sellers continue to grow, with a year over year increase of 2.7% or $8.5 billion according to IRI for the 52 weeks ending 3/25/18. With this in mind, Prairie City Bakery is proud to introduce a new addition to their famous cookie line – Pink Celebration. This great tasting soft frosted cookie features a creamy frosting with vanilla and butter flavors and a textured sugar cookie base. Perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth, this cookie is individually wrapped for grab ‘n go impulse sales and features a long 30-day shelf life. Your customers won’t be able to resist the rich flavor, colorful icing and playful confetti. Prairie City Bakery provides premium, fully baked, thaw-and-sell bakery solutions to the convenience store, foodservice, grocery, vending and drug channels nationwide. Known for their premium quality and innovation, Prairie City Bakery offers retailers four turnkey programs: Foodservice, Individually Wrapped Breakfast, Individually Wrapped Snacks, and Individually Wrapped Dulce Pradera Mexican Pastry products.

When you think of indulgence, think Prairie City Bakery Pink Celebration Cookies! Visit for details.

Your Perfect Partner in Emerging Industries Vaping and CBD are hot topics with a lot of regulatory uncertainty. E-Alternative Solutions (EAS) can help you navigate it, starting with a broad portfolio of products: • Leap® Vapor utilizes e-liquids formulated with nicotine salts to give adult tobacco users alternatives beyond smoking. With a full-suite of flavor profiles distinctly developed for mature palates, a larger battery and higher capacity e-liquid pods, our rechargeable model provides choices that fit your store needs. Our Leap Go™ e-cigarette, also formulated with nicotine salts, provides the perfect disposable option for adult smokers. • Forth™ CBD currently consists of hemp-derived, full-spectrum CBD tincture drops, available in 2 CBD mg levels and 5 flavors. With calibrated droppers and simple-to-understand facts, Forth empowers adult consumers to feel confident in their CBD journey.


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Additional CBD product formats designed specifically for the convenience store consumer to be introduced at NACS. Moreover, we can provide solutions to drive adult consumer traffic and profitability. Our decades of sales, marketing and compliance experience, as well as our relationship with sister company Swisher International, help our channel partners navigate the constantly changing landscape in these new businesses, such as cannabidiol (CBD) and vapor. This enables us to provide exceptional value to each and every relationship we establish.

Visit us at NACS for the latest news! Booths #2211 (Leap) and #5667 (Forth). Or learn more at

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The Most Profitable Two Square Feet in Your Store! Pro ATM installs and services highly reliable, business-building ATM machines. Your customers will love our machines’ convenience and reliability. You’ll love our company’s professionalism and positive role in your business’s success. Pro ATM machines stay up and running and have cash when customers need it. Our state-of-the-art technology alerts us instantly to low cash supply or operational issues. If a problem occurs, we’re on the spot whenever needed – including on weekends. Pro ATM also offers multiple ATM and machine programs to suit whatever your needs might be: • • • • • • • •

® This quarterly publication is made available to convenience store and petroleum marketing executives on a complimentary basis, thanks to the sponsorships of a select group of interested and involved industry suppliers.

Apter Industries BIC

Full Service Pro ATM Owned/Merchant Load Merchant Owned/Merchant Load Merchant Owned/Pro ATM Load Rental/Merchant Load Rental/Pro ATM Load Drive Up Games of Skill

CBE, Inc. ConvenienceWorks by Hussmann CSC ServiceWorks

These revenue-generating, customizable service and ownership programs are supported by Pro ATM’s industry leading service and technology to make sure uptime is optimized to keep your business more profitable! For more information on how Pro ATM can build a custom program to suit your individual store’s needs, visit or call 724.698.2900.

Detour/Forward Foods E-Alternative Solutions (EAS) Ferrara Candy Co. GOJO Industries, Inc. Home Market Foods Jack Link’s Kellogg’s Convenience Store Team

Capture Healthy Snackers Morning, Noon and Night with Detour SMART!

Nestlé Waters North America Prairie City Bakery Pro ATM Procter & Gamble Co. Republic Tobacco Teazzers

Detour protein bars is expanding its award-winning product line to include Detour SMART, a breakthrough snack positioned in the sweet-spot between \traditional protein bars and the fast-growing cookie segment. Detour SMART is sure to get the attention of younger, healthy snacking consumers with real, recognizable ingredients; starting with whole grain, organic rolled oats. Detour SMART stands apart by offering snacking excellence with a range of flavors that work perfectly from healthy breakfast, to mid-day snack, to “smart” after dinner treat and every need in between. “Detour SMART is the right healthy snack for where consumers are going,” said Ian Davison, Marketing VP Forward Foods, the owner of Detour. “The right ingredients, the right nutrition and the right delicious flavors create a fantastic value for consumers.” Detour’s mission is to create protein bars so insanely delicious you can’t wait to eat them. For 15 years, Detour bars have been the gold standard for nutrition and taste, winning many awards including Men’s Health protein bar of the year, twice. Detour SMART has 10grams of protein and less than 4g of sugar, per serving, and are made with whole grain organic rolled oats, real fruit, nuts, and indulgent chocolate. Detour SMART is a good source of fiber, gluten free, and non-gmo. Flavors include: Cookie Dough, Apple Cinnamon, Coconut Almond, Blueberry, Peanut Butter Chocolate and Banana Nut.

Swisher International

John Petersen Publisher John Lofstock Editor InfoMarketing is published quarterly for convenience store and petroleum company executives, operators and marketers. ADDRESS CHANGES: Send address changes to: Convenience Directions® 1111 Superior Avenue, 26th Floor Cleveland, Ohio 44114 or via e-mail to Phone: 888-543-2447

Detour protein bars are available at convenience stores nationwide. For more information, visit

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Selecting the Right Surface Disinfectant for Your Store


CONCRETE PADS AND PUMP BASES: CONCRETE PADS PUMPdiesel BASES: Locate a cleaner thatAND cuts through fuel stains. Make sure Locate a cleaner that cuts through fuelmeets stains.MS4 Make sure it does not contain harmful acids ordiesel caustics, it does not contain harmful acids or caustics, meets MS4 wastewater regulations, and has oil eating Microbes wastewater regulations, has oil eating with Microbes (Gorilla XDX). Apply theand product liberally a hose (Gorilla or XDX). the Allow product with a hose extender pumpApply sprayer. 5 liberally minutes contact. Broom off extender diesel or pump Allowthoroughly 5 minutes where contact.permitted. Broom off loosened fuelsprayer. stains. Rinse loosened diesel fuel stains. Rinse thoroughly where permitted. In areas where rinsing is not permitted, repeat the process and In areas wheredebris rinsinguntil is not permitted, repeat the process and wipe loosened clean. wipe loosened debris until clean. DIESEL FUEL DISPENSERS: DIESEL FUEL towel DISPENSERS: Spray a damp with a proven cleaner with impressive Spray a damp towel with proven cleaner with impressive degreasing properties that awill not leave a harmful residue degreasing properties that will not leave a harmful residue (Garage Gorilla Pump Cleaner) and wipe the composite (Garage Gorilla Pump Cleaner) and wipe composite face. Respray a clean section of the towel and the wipe pump face. Respray a clean of the pump bottom and sides. Spraysection the hose andtowel wipeand fromwipe handle to bottom and sides. Spray the hose and wipe from handle the pump. Spray the nozzle and handle holder. Allow 30to the pump. Spraytime theand nozzle and handle holder. Allow 30 seconds contact wipe. seconds contact time and wipe. SHINE AND PROTECT EQUIPMENT: SHINEa AND PROTECT EQUIPMENT: Locate durable shine enhancer and protectant (Gorilla LocateShine). a durable shine enhancer and protectant (Gorilla Pump Squeeze a small amount on a towel and wipe Pump Shine). Squeeze a small amount on a towel and wipe composite pump faces, sides, and hose. Next wipe trash composite pump faces, sides, and hose. Next wipe trash receptacles and windshield reservoirs. receptacles and windshield reservoirs. DEBUG AND REFRESH TRASH RECEPTACLES: DEBUG REFRESH TRASH Bees, flies,AND and pungent odors annoyRECEPTACLES: customers while pumping Bees, andthis, pungent annoy customers pumping fuel. Toflies, prevent sprayodors a product with a huge, while pleasant fuel. To prevent this, spray a product with a huge, pleasant fragrance that kills odors at the source, with enzymatic action fragrance that kills odors the source, with enzymatic action (Gorilla Odor Killer). NoatOdor – No Bees. (Gorilla Odor Killer). No Odor – No Bees. Get Started Today! Get Started Today! First Kit which contains all 4 products, Secure your Forecourt Secure your Forecourt First Kit which contains all 4 products, instructions, and the accessories needed to maintain diesel instructions, and the accessories to maintainstore diesel fuel areas. It is available through needed most convenience fuel areas. It is available through most convenience store grocery wholesalers for under $40. grocery wholesalers for under $40. CAN’T FIND IT? FIND IT? Contact Joe DeLucaCAN’T at Contact Joe DeLuca at or 412-999-8444 or 412-999-8444 All trademarks and service marks used by Apter Industries, Inc. are licensed from AIFCO, LLC. Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved. All trademarks and service marks used by Apter Industries, Inc. are licensed from AIFCO, LLC. Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved.

We all know a clean store makes a difference. Did you know that using the right surface disinfecting and sanitizing products plays an important role in not only the cleanliness of your store, but the health of your employees and guests? Selecting the Right Products With so many surface disinfecting and sanitizing options out there, how do you select the right one for your store? The following are key questions to ask when determining what product is right for your store. Efficacy • What is the specific disinfection time of this product? • Will the surface remain wet long enough to properly disinfect the surface? • How long does it take to kill important foodborne illnesses such as Norovirus, Salmonella and E. coli? Safety • What is the safety profile of the product? • Are there any precautionary statements? • Is the product formulated for food-contact surfaces? • Can the product safely be used on both hard and soft surfaces? • Is handwashing required after using this product? • Does the product contain harsh fumes that might irritate employees and guests? Sustainability • Is the product EPA Designed for the Environment (DfE) certified? • What ingredients are in the product? While this may seem like many questions to consider, the answers to them will help you determine if you are selecting products that deliver on the combination of strong efficacy, safety and sustainability. And, the good news is there are new technologies available that can meet these standards today. One such technology is new PURELL™ Surface Disinfecting and Sanitizing Products. The patented formulation kills Norovirus, E. coli and Salmonella in 30 seconds, has no harsh chemical fumes, does not require rinsing food contact surfaces and has earned the EPA’s Design for the Environment certification. Learn more at 132 CSTORE DECISIONS

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P&G Joins Environmentally-Friendly, Convenient E-Shopping Platform The Procter & Gamble Co. announced the introduction of reusable, refillable packaging on some of its most popular products as part of a new effort that aims to change the world’s reliance on single use packaging and disposable waste. Additionally, new “collect and recycle” circular solutions that help eliminate waste were also introduced as part of a partnership with Loop, a circular e-commerce platform developed by international recycling leader TerraCycle. Many of P&G’s largest global brands, including PanteneTM, TideTM, CascadeTM and Oral-BTM will participate in this innovative platform later this year. Loop is a first of its kind global packaging and shopping circular solution which aims to improve the environmental performance and convenience standards compared to current e-commerce solutions through packaging that is collected, cleaned, refilled and reused. Loop also offers the option to collect used products from consumers’ doorsteps for further recycling or reuse. P&G was the first consumer products company to join Loop. “We are building on more than 180 years of innovation and world-class consumer insight to enable responsible consumption at scale,” said Virginie Helias, P&G’s vice president and chief sustainability officer. “We’re proud to partner with TerraCycle as the first CPG company to be part of this transformative program, which is just one of the many ways we are delivering on our Ambition 2030 goals to accelerate sustainable innovation and drive circular solutions.” P&G scientists and engineers have developed innovative manufacturing, packaging and distribution solutions that will delight consumers and make sustainable living easy for participating consumers. Eleven P&G brands will be available in Loop in one of three formats. The Loop system will be validated and optimized through real in-market learning experiments beginning in mid-2019 in New York and Paris. “The time to act is now. We are passionate about harnessing the power of our global reach and the strength of our trusted global brands to scale-up more sustainable solutions. Transformative partnerships are key to achieve this mission as no one can succeed alone,” Helias said.

Vigil Trends – Decrease In-Store Shrink Loss of inventory due to shoplifting and employee theft costs retailers in the U.S. 1.85% of total sales, or about $42 billion in shrinkage each year. Roughly 50% of retail shrink is internal: employees stealing from their company over and over again. CBE is here to show how VIGIL Trends will reduce your loss and identify areas that may require additional training for your employees. VIGIL Trends is cloud-based business intelligence software developed by 3xLOGIC, Inc. It is a proven, highly-effective tool to keep an eye on your business, catch employees stealing from you and deter future theft. VIGIL Trends incorporates exception-based reporting and video data into an attractive, user-friendly dashboard providing a simple visual snapshot of your business. Within hours of implementing Trends, our end users have uncovered employee theft at their stores, leading to arrest, indictment, and asset recovery. VIGIL Trends’ sophisticated algorithm identifies top offenders in your organization by assigning a weighted score to each type of transaction you have identified as critical to watch. The Trends dashboard prioritizes the offenders with the highest scores. Click on the score and view the video of every incident flagged. Trends gives you the information to take the power away from dishonest employees. Trends optimizes your visibility while reducing loss with these key features: • Weighted POS Exception Reporting • Optimized Video Experience • Operational Audit Capabilities • Case Management CBE is a nationwide technology deployment company and systems integrator for over 40 years. Providing the latest technologies in point of sales systems, video surveillance, alarms audio and network infrastructure for retail chains through the U.S. At CBE our goal is to develop long term relationships not short-term deals.

We’ve Got You Covered!

Contact CBE today for more information on VIGIL Trends, or 800-447-7038.

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BLK Wine Tip Cigarillos Offer Pleasing Wine Taste and Aroma

Sleek pipe smoke delivers an unexpected and satisfying experience.

BLK Wine Tip Cigarillos, a Swisher brand, provide a wine taste and aroma unlike any other cigar with its fusion of hand selected air-and-fire cured tobaccos that deliver a handsdown unique experience. Swisher Sweets BLK Cigarillos offer a sleek pipe smoke that’s anything but ordinary. BLK combines high quality and convenience in unforgettable blends, from the easy draw of the signature black tip to the intense aroma and smooth taste that keeps customers coming back for more. BLK Wine Cigarillos join the lineup of blends including Smooth, Grape, Cherry and Berry and come in a resealable 2-count pouch with the “Sealed Fresh” guarantee. Available for shipment to stores nationwide, it is offered in “2 for 99¢”, “Save on 2” and “2 for $1.49” options and single sale impulse displays. About Swisher International Jacksonville, Fla.-based Swisher International has manufactured quality tobacco products since 1861. The company ships over two billion cigars a year to more than 70 countries. More information on Swisher and the various products offered can be found at To place an order, contact your Swisher representative at 1-800-874-9720. For more information, visit



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Pump Up Profits & Deflate Costs! CSC ServiceWorks is the industry leader in tire inflation and vacuum services, providing the most extensive distribution and service networks worldwide. Stand out among your competitors with the latest air technology equipment, by joining a leader in the industry. Some features highlighted below: • 24/7 Wireless Monitoring • Credit Cards, Apple Pay, Smart Wallet Technology and EMV Chip Technology Accepted • Digital Air Auto Calibration • Lighted Sign • Loyalty Card Programs • High Security Vault System CSC ServiceWorks also partners with Feed My Starving Children Charity program which helps build customer loyalty and goodwill as a unique incentive to make your location a routine destination. Contact a sales rep today at (800) 247-8363 or visit


What do leading

1111 Superior Avenue, 26th Floor Cleveland, Ohio 44114

convenience store chains

have in common?


Capitalizing on the experience of industry partners to bring retailers and suppliers together to identify emerging trends and boost sales

Ridiculously Awesome Flavor Deliver on the flavor, variety, and convenience today’s consumers are looking for with premium brands from Home Market Foods. Let’s Power Up your business! RollerBites® Bold! Different! Better! Bursting with flavor and packed with protein, RollerBites offer the perfect on-the-go meal or snack. NEW! Fire Grilled Cheeseburger RollerBites lock in that juicy, home-grilled flavor and are available in craveable Original, Bacon, and Ghost Pepper varieties. Seasoned all-white Chicken RollerBites, offered in a range of bold flavors, and have more protein than any other chicken product on the grill. Try the popular NEW! Nashville Hot Chicken! Our savory Breakfast varieties combine hearty eggs, sausage and cheese. Eisenberg® Eisenberg® Beef Frankfurters have a long tradition of quality since 1929. Great tasting, minimally processed products with an authentic, natural taste – that’s the Eisenberg way.


Cooked Perfect® Cooked Perfect® Chicken Fries are sure to heat up your hot case sales. Made from tender, juicy all-white meat chicken, loaded with flavor, and packed with protein. Our NEW! Chicken Fries are a hot-trending menu item that customers want to try. Grab N’ Go containers included in every case.

Premium Cooked Perfect® meal builders will elevate your foodservice offering with the #1 brand of Meatballs in the country, Shaved Steak, Pulled Pork, and our NEW! Gourmet Italian Style Meatballs. All are seasoned just right and cooked to perfection. Bring quality to your customers with ingredients from Cooked Perfect – the possibilities are endless! For more information, visit Contact us at or (800) 367-8325, ext. 529.

Bahama Mama® Bahama Mama® premium German-Recipe Sausages provide all-day snacking solutions in a variety of delicious flavors to satisfy hearty appetites. Made from high quality cuts of beef and pork, no fillers, and 100% cheddar cheese.



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CBD Essential Oil Roller Topical products are in high demand in the CBD industry — and CBD Essential Oil Rollers are an exciting new addition to the Hemp Bombs product line. CBD Essential Oil Rollers combine the calming properties of Hemp Bombs signature CBD with the relaxing effects of natural botanicals. This aromatherapy product is available in two varieties: sleep and focus blends. Each CBD Essential Oil Roller is handcrafted with premium oils for maximum product benefits and aromatherapy effects. The colorful, attractive packaging is designed to appeal to the c-store customer as a popular impulse-buy topical selection.

CB Distributors

(888) 824-3256 • •

Customized Foodservice Approach

Refrigerator, Freezer Combo

Newly Weds Foods is ready to create your next signature solution that is as unique as you are. Newly Weds Foods applies a customized approach to food coatings, seasonings, sauces, bakery items as well as food safety and functional ingredients — let’s make it yours.

Newly Weds Foods

Hoshizaki’s DT1A-HS and DT2A-FS dual-temp cabinets maintain NSF7 refrigerator/freezer temperatures even in 100-degree Fahrenheit kitchens. Each energy-efficient R290 refrigerant model features top-mounted independent refrigeration systems, self-closing field reversible lockable doors and LED lights — plus, durable stainless-steel interior and exterior.

Hoshizaki America Inc.

Zero Sugar, Grass-Fed Beef Jerky Werner Gourmet Meat Snacks Inc.’s new zero-sugar beef jerky made with grass-fed beef comes in three recipes: Original, Salt & Pepper and Unsweetened Teriyaki-Style. Each recipe is formulated with zero grams of sugar, zero grams total carbs and 18 grams of protein per serving, an average of 64% more protein than Werner’s all-natural beef jerky. Werner’s Zero Sugar, Grass-Fed beef jerky is still an all-natural product, crafted in small batches, minimally processed with no artificial ingredients and gluten free. There are no added nitrites, nitrates or MSG. This product is available in a two-ounce package (SRP $6.98).

Werner Gourmet Meat Snacks Inc.

(800) 459-6420 •

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Chicken Sausage Topping The big flavor of this premium, Italian-style Chicken Sausage Topping from Brakebush is making a great first impression as patrons see it on pizzas or in pastas, salads, soups and omelets. This all-natural, fully cooked topping delivers a traditional Italian sausage flavor and texture with less fat than pork sausage. Yet the indulgent look and taste ensures a very satisfying eating experience. Heralded as “the chicken sausage topping sausage-lovers love,” operators are finding it to be a terrific beef and pork alternative in many applications. Request a sample at


LTO Passion Fruit Cigarillo Ignite your customers’ passion with Swisher Sweets Passion Fruit. This limited-edition cigarillo is now available, providing an exotic blend of passion fruit and the tropical sweetness of mango that offers an unforgettable unique taste. This tropical sensation will surely tempt customers for another taste and is only available for a limited time. Swisher Sweets Passion Fruit is available in a resealable two-count pouch with the “Sealed Fresh” guarantee. Swisher Sweets Passion Fruit is ready for shipment to stores nationwide and is offered in “2 for 99 cents,” “Save on 2,” “2 for $1.29” and “2 for $1.49” options.

Swisher International Inc.

(800) 874-9720 •

Tropical Punch Flavored Alcohol The fifth flavor in the Party Punch lineup, Tropical Punch is packed with fresh fruit flavors and bursts of crisp, refreshing notes. The release of Tropical Punch is an exciting step for the company as it also marks the rollout of a fresh package design for the entire BeatBox Beverage lineup. The newest party punch comes in a 500-milliliter, single-serve resealable Tetra Pak. Each Party Punch tetra has 11.1% ABV, 130 calories and eight grams of sugar per 5.6-ounce serving, and is offered at a suggested retail price (SRP) of $3.99.

Spring-Loaded Lid Dispenser DISPENSE-RITE has introduced the SLR-LID-2 springloaded lid dispenser. This new product provides additional flexibility in meeting your dispensing requirements. The SLR-LID-2 is available for a variety of in-counter and countertop applications. This sanitary beverage lid dispenser requires no adjustment and is compatible with a variety of beverage lid designs. Quick, one-handed dispensing operation allows customers to hold their beverage cup while removing a lid. Lid stacks are enclosed to protect from potential contamination due to spills, splashes and sneezes. Matching cup, straw and condiment dispensing products are also available.

Diversified Metal Products Inc.

(800) 772-2877 •

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Spill Kit Station Stackable Candy Display CandyRific has developed a new display for its Surprise Candy Pals Everyday series. The teal and purple Surprise Candy Pals will be stackable in a hot pink chute. The four-foottall rectangle chute will help those retailers with limited space. The new chutes displays are available now and in stores this fall. CandyRific sells candy and novelty product combinations utilizing popular licensed brands. CandyRific’s portfolio includes Warner Bros., Minions, Dreamworks, M&M’S, Skittles, Marvel and Star Wars brands.


(502) 893-3626

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Forte’s Spill Kit Station is made to hold all the materials you need to keep oil and gas spillage cleaning materials in a single, safe place and your sites hazard-free. Its ample, compartmentalized interior keeps contents organized and easy to locate. Made of strong plastic with UV inhibitors for insulation, it is resistant to chemicals, solvents, impact and scratches, and keeps contents clean and dry. The Station has a user-friendly front door with a visible, easy-to-grasp handle, and a combination lock is included to keep the unit secure and prevent theft. Shipped ready-to-use with no assembly required. Signage and graphic options are available.

Forte Products

(816) 813-3337

Coffee Smoothie Mixes Georgia Coffee Smoothie mixes are a one-pour blend of coffee, skim milk, cream and sugar and contain 180 calories per eight-ounce serving. The smoothie mix makes consistent frozen frappes in minutes — just shake, pour over ice and blend. Georgia Coffee Smoothies are a great beverage option for any daypart, especially for the snack occasion. The Georgia Coffee Co. Smoothie flavors include Mocha and Caramel Macchiato. The smoothie mixes are packaged in 12 32-ounce cartons per case and require blending at a ratio of one-to-one (one part smoothie mix to one part ice).

The Coca-Cola Co.

Crispy Matcha Wafers Loacker’s delicious new Crème Wafer flavor is the crispy version of matcha. The Loacker 220-gram Matcha Quadratini pairs the brand’s light, crispy wafers with 74% crème filling, made with real matcha green tea, harvested and carefully grown in Japan, specifically for Loacker.

Loacker USA Inc.



9/13/19 2:27 PM


Limited-Edition Pepperoni Trio Pizza

Nut Butter Candy Bars The new Creamy SNICKERS Bars feature everything fans love about SNICKERS — gooey caramel and a milk chocolate coating — and the addition of freshly ground, creamy nut butters, including Almond Butter, Peanut Butter and Maple Almond Butter. With the popularity of nut butters continuing to grow, Creamy SNICKERS offers fans a new, on-trend taste experience full of delicious goodness, made with no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. Fans will be able to find the new flavors nationwide in Single (1.4 ounces), Share (2.8 ounces) and Stand Up Pouch (7.7 ounces) sizes.

With the popularity of Pepperoni Trio Pizza last year, Hunt Brothers Pizza decided to bring back this delicious limitedtime offer (LTO) this month. Starting with Hunt Brothers Pizza’s original crust, Pepperoni Trio Pizza is topped with their signature pizza sauce, 100% mozzarella cheese, and layered with three types of pepperoni, truly making this the pizza of pepperoni lovers’ dreams. Preparation is finished by topping with the signature Just Right Spice prior to baking. Beginning Oct. 21, for a limited time, customers can order this specialty pizza at participating Hunt Brothers Pizza locations while supplies last.

Hunt Brothers Pizza

Mars Inc.

Natural Meat and Cheese Sticks Kraft Heinz’s OSCAR MAYER Natural Meat and Cheese Snack Sticks contain no artificial ingredients and no added nitrates or nitrites (except those naturally occurring in cultured celery powder). The OSCAR MAYER Natural Meat and Cheese Snack Sticks are the first OSCAR MAYER Natural branded items to combine meat and cheese together in a single package as an ideal on-the-go snack for convenience store consumers. The launch consists of two flavors: Cracked Black Pepper Uncured Hard Salami with White Cheddar Cheese and Uncured Hard Salami with Monterey Jack Cheese.

Muffin Mashup

Kraft Heinz Co.

Delicious muffin flavors in iconic Tastykake Junior form, including Blueberry and Chocolate Chip, this mashup puts a fun spin on two classics. Perfect for breakfast or snacking, the Muffin Juniors are available single-serve nationwide for $1.79 apiece.

Flowers Foods Inc. 138


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Reduced Case Packs Tyson Foodservice’s State Fair Crispitos Filled Tortillas and Bosco Sticks reduced case packs offer a space-saving solution for more convenient storage, fast product sell-through and lower cost per case for operators. Cases include branded sleeves for quick merchandising and easy handling. State Fair Crispitos hand-rolled tortillas have protein fillings that offer versatile, quick-prep options to bake, fry or microwave. Flavors include Chicken and Cheese Ranch with Bacon, Buffalo Style Chicken and Cheese, Chili Filled and Chicken and Cheese. Bosco Sticks are a soft, fresh-baked breadstick with a variety of fillings. Flavors include Mozzarella Cheese Stuffed Breadsticks, Cheddar Pretzel Stuffed Breadsticks and Pepperoni Pizza Stuffed Breadsticks.

Tyson Foodservice

All-in-One Cleaning Spray

Photo Kiosk

Sani Professional’s All-in-One Spray is specially formulated to clean multiple hard non-porous surfaces, sanitize food contact surfaces and disinfect commonly touched surfaces in public places. The Sani Professional All-in-One Spray is a non-bleach formula that is effective against norovirus, making it ideal for use in foodservice environments — no rinsing required. As a simple product to use, training employees on the use of the product is clear and easy, saving time while increasing effectiveness of preventing cross-contamination.

Kodak Moments launched the M1 Order Station, a kiosk focused on smartphone printing designed to provide an affordable and scalable photo printing solution to retailers. Powered by the Kodak Moments Retail Software, customers can quickly transfer photos from their smartphones and create photo prints, cards and collages in minutes. The M1 Order Station, available as a countertop or free-standing unit, provides retailers with additional revenue generation and traffic driver, affordable and compact printing solution and intuitive and easy-to-use software experience that prints from smartphones, USB and camera cards.

Sani Professional

Kodak Moments

Alcohol-Infused Ice Cream Arctic Buzz alcohol-infused ice cream uses a revolutionary manufacturing process to infuse a full shot of liquor into every serving size of its hand-crafted, smooth-as-silk ice cream. Arctic Buzz flavors include Chocolate, Vanilla, Raspberry, Cookies & Cream, Birthday Cake, Key Lime Pie and Coconut, all vodka-infused with an ABV of 6% up to 9%. Seasonal flavors include Pumpkin Pie, North Pole Nog and Candy Cane Lane.

Arctic Buzz Ice Cream

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9/13/19 2:28 PM


Mint and Dark Chocolate Wafer KIT KAT Duos Mint + Dark Chocolate are the first year-round KIT KAT flavor in almost a decade. The new KIT KAT Duos Mint + Dark Chocolate will feature a mashup of two iconic flavors — a mint crème on the top and dark chocolate on the bottom, all surrounding light and crispy wafers. KIT KAT Duos Mint + Dark Chocolate will be available nationwide in December.

The Hershey Co.

Touchscreen Waste Oil Tanks

Quarter-Pound Beef Jerky While the snacking competition continues to embrace the trend of decreasing product size to keep their price points steady, Old Trapper has just released a new “Big Bag” of its popular beef jerky. Not only is Old Trapper now offering a bigger bag of its popular beef jerky, but the company is openly communicating exactly how much of the product is inside. The Quarter Pound Big Bag of beef jerky comes in a clear-view bag to show customers that what they are purchasing is the highest-quality product.

Old Trapper Smoked Products

Nut Butter Greek Yogurt Chobani launched a new line that perfectly pairs Chobani Greek Yogurt with nut butters to give people a tasty, filling, protein-packed snack that has less sugar and contains only natural ingredients. Like all Chobani products, Chobani Greek Yogurt with Nut Butters are made using only natural, non-GMO ingredients, and no artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners or preservatives. The suggested retail price (SRP) for Chobani Greek Yogurt with Nut Butters is $1.69 per 5.3-ounce single-serve cup.



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Frontline International Inc.

(330) 861-1100 140

Frontline International’s new touchscreen has digital versions of instruction manuals stored for convenient call-up, a self-test mode and other troubleshooting capabilities, and generates downloadable reports. Using the passwordprotected touchscreen, users have clear and immediate access to information about system type, tank status and tank level in an easy-to-read graphic display. Advanced settings control the opening and closing of the collection valve, service intervals, and issue an alert when the tank reaches 75% capacity. As an added safety feature, when 100% full, automatic protections will not allow the tank to accept any more oil. All Frontline International tanks can be synced to Frontline’s exclusive M3 data management system for remote, web-based access to all features and functions.

October 2019

9/13/19 2:28 PM


Ginger Teriyaki Chicken Snacks Lorissa’s Kitchen Ginger Teriyaki are tender, all-natural chicken breast cuts raised without antibiotics, then flavored with sweet-and-smoky soy sauce/ginger marinade. A more tender bite than jerky and made of slow-smoked beef, these keto-friendly and dairy-, soy-, gluten- and preservative-free snacks are made with absolutely no added nitrates, nitrites or MSG. Ginger Teriyaki is also available as Lorissa’s Kitchen Lunchbox Packs Tender Bites. Lunchbox Packs don’t require refrigeration and come in five-count individually wrapped pouches and sticks for easy weeknight lunch prep. The suggested retail price (SRP) is $4.69 per unit for the Tender Bites.

Lorissa’s Kitchen

Cupcake-Flavored Candy

Cold-Pressed Watermelon Juice Wonder Melon is made from 100% organic cold-pressed juice with no added sugar, artificial ingredients or artificial colorings. Watermelon Cucumber Basil is a delightfully cool concoction of real watermelon juice, lemon juice, apple juice, cucumber juice and basil, with only 80 calories per 8.45-ounce bottle. Watermelon Lemon Cayenne wakes up the taste buds with real watermelon juice, lemon juice, apple juice and a dash of cayenne at just 100 calories per 8.45-ounce bottle. Both varieties are non-GMO verified, certified Fair Trade, USDA organic and certified OU kosher (parve). Packaged six bottles per case for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $3.99 per bottle.


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Jelly Belly Candy Co.’s newest confection is Jelly Belly Candy Cupcakes, an assortment of miniature cupcake replicas in five indulgent flavors: strawberry, blueberry, chocolate, French vanilla and banana. Each piece has a cupcake flavor base and a frosting flavor on top. Similar to Jelly Belly Candy Cones and candy corn, Jelly Belly Candy Cupcakes have a smooth texture that is never coarse, always creamy. Candy lovers and cupcake enthusiasts will be delighted by these petite confections, available in threeounce grab-and-go bags and bulk.

Jelly Belly Candy Co.

Compliant HighChairs Tomlinson Industries’ Marston High Chairs are ASTM F404-18 compliant. The C-40 highchairs are solid 3/4-inch oak with mortise and tenon construction. A modified chair back restricts upside-down use of the chair. The wider base stance improves chair stability and prevents chair tipping. An easy-to-use three-point harness system with passive crotch strap firmly secures child in chair. Easy-to-read labeling illustrates proper chair usage. The Marston C-40 chair is available in walnut, natural and black finishes — in-stock and ready to ship.

Tomlinson Industries

(216) 587-3400 ext. 285 • October 2019 • CSTORE DECISIONS


9/16/19 8:29 AM


Multi-Stream Recycling Station Paris Site Furnishings MSRS series Multi-Stream Recycling Station is available with three 23-gallon-per-stream containers or two 34-gallonper-stream containers. These user-friendly recycling stations feature a large graphics area above each container opening to clearly identify its intended contents. Well-suited for high-traffic areas indoors or outside, Multi-Stream Recycling Stations are ideal for collection of recycling streams. Manufactured of Galvanized sheet metal, which is coated with durable polyester powder coating in a variety of standard colors or custom colors to match existing color schemes. Measuring less than 42 inches wide and less than two feet deep.

Paris Site Furnishings

New Package Design

Dark Chocolate Wafer Bar Wafer Everbar offers a light snack without feeling heavy and premium dark chocolate for better fuel and satisfaction. Nothing complicated, nothing inflated — just a simple, indulgent pick-me-up to carry you through your day. Cocoa solids, derived from the finest cocoa beans from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, offer the health benefits of dark chocolate. The 1.2-ounce, 35-gram bars are individually wrapped — perfect for breaks, outings or excursions. Just drop in your bag and go.

Fini Sweets is expanding its North American presence and product range with more of its famous imaginative offerings and innovative new package designs. Fini Sweets has nine licorice and gummy products on its North American roster. Products include allergen-free, gluten-free and vegan-friendly sweets to satisfy a growing and largely unfulfilled market. Fini Sweets is also introducing Flip It, a signature packaging innovation that satisfies two candy cravings in one clever package for twice the fun and flavor.

Fini Sweets

DoubleWaves LLC

Digital Hood Defense Sargent and Greenleaf (S&G) Digital Hood Defense increases the overall security of ATM units by protecting the hood from jackpotting attacks without compromising convenience for operators. The Digital Hood Defense wires through the same keypad as the vault lock, allowing the user to easily control access to their hood, vault or both depending on the paired vault lock. When paired with the Digital Platform keypad, this lock records both hood and vault access — up to 1,000 time- and date-stamped events — enhancing ATM security, management and oversight while making the unit impervious to hood tampering.

Sargent and Greenleaf

(859) 885-9411 •



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Classifieds/Ad Index ADD Systems


800.922.0972 /

Armor Safe


Krispy Krunchy


800.290.6097 /

Republic Tobacco



Liggett Vector Brands


R.J. Reynolds





Little Caesars


Ruiz Food Products




Little Debbie


Solari Hemp






Sunny Sky


888.207.4588 / 800.933.2121 800.544.4837 /





888.824.3256 /

Cheyenne International


866.254.6975 /

Click It




800.241.COKE /

Convenience Distribution



71 888.620.9910 /

800.315.6208 /



North American Bancard




E-Alternative Solutions


Fifth Third Bank


800.950.3683 / 800.772.2877 /

Swedish Match



866.481.4604 / 877.234.7904 /


23 147

The J.M. Smucker Company



Transact Technologies

Prairie City Bakery


U.S. Smokeless Tobacco

Premier Manufacturing, Inc.



Procter & Gamble


800.336.9876 / 817.795.5555 /

800.272.8656 /

35 65 99


Pierce Chicken

Del Monte

888.384.7333 /




800.837.2881 /

Nemo’s Bakery

CB Distributors


800.553.5776 / 877.748.4222 /

614.228.5781 /

11 148 17 93 2 91

877.373.0069 /

FIJI Water



5-Hour Energy


Franke Coffee


866.960.1700 / 800.310.5710 /



727.449.2296 /





High Noon Spirits Company


Home Market Foods


Hunt Brothers Pizza


888.815.8460 /

800.367.8325 /

800.453.3675 /

Inline Plastics

800.826.5567 /


87 50-51

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BOOTH #3617 800-837-2881



9/13/19 9:07 AM


Technology Is Changing the Customer Experience Change is headed for the c-store industry, driven by technology and innovations in other industries. John Matthews • Gray Cat Enterprises

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, famously said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” Think how much has changed in the convenience store industry in the past 10 years. Restaurant-quality foodservice was in its infancy; loyalty was just starting to blossom; and other technologies such as kiosks, RFID (radio-frequency identification) and cashier-less checkout were generally a pipe dream. Now, each of these concepts is front and center in the c-store industry for one reason: the customer. Customers who frequent convenience stores do not visit them exclusively — they also visit other progressive channels such as the quick-service restaurant industry, for instance. Their experience has been elevated by this industry and has raised the bar on c-stores. Customer expectations can be gradual in the short term, but failing to recognize these may make our industry obsolete. Fortunately, many have embraced the challenge and have begun to recognize that it’s about “customer experiences, not transactions.” Rather than treating customer count as if it were a commodity transaction, focusing on the customer experience creates a bond with your customers that influences repeat occurrences. The customer experience stems from three components in order to be effective: visual, behavioral and verbal. • Brand • Store • Uniforms • Packaging

• Signature offering • Signs • Promotions/advertising

• Staff greeting • Promotions/advertising



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• Service • Interaction style • Execution • Training

October 2019

Technology continues to have a larger influence on the overall customer experience. Delta Airlines is a perfect example. As a management consultant, I am on the road a lot. In fact, I generally fly about 200,000 miles a year, and basically, I am boarding a plane every one-and-a-half days. The Delta app is one of the best forms of technology that allows me to change my flight; be notified of changes to my flight; track my bags; track my miles; and so on. Everything I need is at my fingertips and minimizes any and all disruptions to my travel schedule. This app has elevated my customer experience and keeps me loyal to Delta. Here are some other examples of outstanding customer experience companies: • Sam’s Club — With their Scan-and-Go app, Sam’s Club has mastered the customer experience for the value shopper who doesn’t want to wait in line. Simply scan your items as you put them in your cart and bypass the long checkout lines using a QR code. • Tesco — In South Korea, Tesco has created virtual stores that customers can access at high-volume locations (i.e., commuter train stations). Customers can pre-order c-store products from virtual stores for delivery at their workplace or home. • Amazon Go — Amazon’s innovative c-store addresses consumer needs by providing high-quality food with attractive merchandising and packaging for a reasonable price, while allowing consumers to checkout effortlessly with “just walk out technology.” In short, while changes to a 150,000-store industry may take longer than expected, nonetheless they are coming. Technology and non-industry competition continues to raise the consumer experience bar. Our c-store industry must continue to embrace these customer expectations in order to grow. John Matthews, founder/president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc., is the author of “Game-Changing Strategies For Retailers,” available on Amazon. His step-by-step manuals, “Local Store Marketing Manual for Retailers” and “Grand Opening Manual for Retailers,” are available at

9/13/19 2:31 PM




With their juicy flavor and crisp golden breading, it’s no surprise that Pierce Chicken® original Wing Dings® and spicy, peppery Wing-Zings® are the best-selling wings in foodservice! We make it easy to bring these consumer favorites to your c-store hot food program. Our wings are fully cooked, for heat-and-serve convenience that’s ideal for meals or snacks on the go.

ALSO AVAILABLE: BONELESS WING DINGS® AND WING-ZINGS® The same great flavors of our bone-in wings, in an easy-to-eat boneless format. From mild to wild, there’s a boneless wing to satisfy every customer craving.

For product information and special offers, visit POULTRY.COM or call (800) 336-9876. © 2019 Pierce Chicken. All rights reserved.

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Profile for WTWH Media LLC

CStore Decisions October 2019  

Revitalizing Refuel Refuel plans rapid expansion through acquisitions and a $50 million investment in new builds as it refreshes sites to co...

CStore Decisions October 2019  

Revitalizing Refuel Refuel plans rapid expansion through acquisitions and a $50 million investment in new builds as it refreshes sites to co...

Profile for wtwhmedia