Publication: Convenience Store News

This Year’s Best-Designed C-store Chains Are…

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November 18, 2016

CSNews Store Design Contest honors 10 retailers delivering a unique experience.

It’s one thing to have an attractive store that grabs the attention of motorists driving by. It’s another thing to have an attractive store that delivers an in-store experience unlike anything else consumers have ever encountered at a convenience store. The winners of the 2016 Convenience Store News Store Design Contest achieve both — with flair.

Now in its 11th year, the awards program honors new and rebuilt c-stores whose designs excel in areas such as branding, interior layout, use and effectiveness of signage and logos, and exterior property and landscaping. Construction or remodeling of eligible stores must have taken place between January 2015 and April 2016.  Winners were selected based on innovation, creativity, and the positive impact of the design and/or remodel on the retailer’s overall business.

This year’s honorees, spanning six categories, are:

BEST ORIGINAL DESIGN

Winner: Kum & Go LC, Johnston, Iowa Designer: CBX & BRR Architecture

Honorable Mention: Parker’s, Ridgeland, S.C. Designer: api(+)

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BEST INTERIOR DESIGN

Winner: Grab.n.Go Food Mart, Marshall, Texas Designer: Paragon Solutions

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BEST SKY’S THE LIMIT REMODEL

Winner: All-N-1, Campti, La. Designer: Paragon Solutions

Honorable Mention: Dirt Cheap, O’Fallon, Mo. […]

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Putting the ‘&’ in Kum & Go

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March 18, 2016

The chain debuts a prototype store that brings to life its brand slogan

Immediately upon entering Kum & Go LC’s new prototype store in Johnston, Iowa, it is clear to customers that this is not the convenience store they remember from their childhood.

The 6,000-square-foot razed-and-rebuilt store — located at 5225 NW 86th St. — is the largest location in the West Des Moines, Iowa-based convenience store operator’s portfolio to date and borders on the look and feel of a contemporary hotel, Mark Hastings, chief operating officer of Kum & Go, told Convenience Store News during its recent visit to the prototype.

Combining modern design with functionality, the new store concept emphasizes Kum & Go’s foodservice offerings and brings to life the brand’s slogan: “Where & Means More.”

“The Marketplace design is the next evolution of a store design built to meet our customers’ needs,” explained Chris Jones, senior vice president of marketing. “We wanted to create a store experience that, in line with our brand promise, delivers more than our customers expect.”

Starting a Revolution Developed over the course of two years, the Marketplace design is a “labor of love,” according to Hastings, and was conceptualized to “create a […]

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Designed for Foodservice Success

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January 14, 2015

Picture a steak — beautiful, medium-rare filet with grilled asparagus. Can you smell it? Now picture it on a paper plate on your desk as you read this. Not as appetizing? That steak will taste differently depending on where you are and how it’s presented.

Your environment has an effect on how you perceive food — a huge effect. McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson explains, “If you have a restaurant that is appealing, contemporary and relevant from both the street and the interior, the food tastes better.”

With foodservice emerging as one of the biggest trends in convenience, many retailers are reexamining many aspects of their brand and business. The type of consumer we are targeting has changed to include females, families and Millennials. Chefs are being consulted and culinary trends are being analyzed. With a focus on food, internal capabilities such as health, operations and purchasing are being affected. What’s not always obvious is that design plays a huge part in the success of a foodservice offering.

Design wasn’t always critical. Convenience stores were a place to buy stuff: cokes, smokes, chips and lottery tickets. Stores needed to be clean and bright. In order to differentiate between other stores, over-the-top […]

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Lessons from Fast-Casual

December 4, 2013

By Joe Bona

Panera Bread recently announced plans to open hundreds of branded convenience stores in major markets across the United States. The Chicago-based chain, which posted sales of $3.7 billion in 2012, said the new stores will be hybrid versions of its popular fast-casual restaurants, but with fuel pumps, snacks and other c-store mainstays as part of the mix. The rollout could begin as early as 2014.

Before you react with alarm or bewilderment to the paragraph above, I should point out that nothing in it is true — except for the part about Panera generating $3.7 billion in 2012. But if the idea of going head-to-head with Panera made you uneasy, even for a moment, this is understandable.

Use a Venn diagram to compare the attributes of c-store and fast-casual food strategies and the overlap is considerable. Both sectors target on-the-go shoppers who need to get in and out in a flash. Both aim to broaden their appeal by combining higher-quality food ingredients with sparse, easy-to-understand menus. And as they seek to innovate, both c-stores and fast-casual chains are paying much closer attention to brand-reinforcing graphics, store design and the total customer experience.

For its part, the fast-casual […]

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A Great First Impression

October 1, 2013

Retailer Innovator of the Year Wawa recreates and enhances its brand in a new market

To say that Floridian consumers were desperately in need of a Wawa fix might be an overstatement. But then again, maybe not, according to posts on the Pennsylvania-based chain’s heavily trafficked Facebook page.

“Desperately waiting for Sarasota FL Wawa’s! Since moving from NJ having serious withdrawal!!!” wrote one Florida convenience store customer.

“Can’t wait until the one opens on 301 and MLK and the one on Hillsborough across from the Hard Rock – that will be TWO Wawas within a mile of me – doin’ the happy Wawa dance,” another giddy Floridian recently posted on Wawa’s Facebook page, which has accumulated more than 1 million “likes.” The only convenience store retailer with more Facebook likes is 7-Eleven. The international retailer has more than 3 million likes, but 10 times as many stores as Wawa.

Wawa opened its first Florida store – and first store outside its traditional Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Delaware-Maryland-Virginia market area – on July 18, 2012, in Orlando. The chain opened its 25th Sunshine State store just last month, also in the central Florida area, and now operates more than 630 convenience stores.

The fact […]

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Reinventing the Corner Store

September 24, 2013

This year’s Store Design Contest winners represent a whole new class of convenience

As the convenience store industry continues to elevate its offerings, consumers are continuously raising their expectations. Some might say they’re becoming “convenience connoisseurs.”

C-store retailers, as a result, are churning out new stores that are larger than ever before, made with higher-quality materials than ever before, offer more products and services than ever before – and perhaps most importantly, tap into the spoken and unspoken desires of customers.

The winners of this year’s Convenience Store News Store Design Contest reinvent the corner store and redefine what a c-store should be. From Bolla Market’s marble bathrooms, wood-grain gondolas and black tile flooring, to Wawa’s “fresh and inviting” point of view, to Jubitz Travel Center’s ability to bring the natural outdoor beauty of Oregon inside, these award-winning designs are sure to please even the most discerning convenience connoisseur.

The CSNews design awards, now in their eighth year, honor convenience retailers who have created the most exciting, innovative and shopper-friendly looks for their stores. Entries are judged on innovation, creativity and the positive impact of the overall design on the business.

Here, we highlight the winners and honorable mentions for […]

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C-store Foodservice Served Up at NRA Show

August 1, 2013

CSNews’ Don Longo and Sheetz EVP Joe Sheetz discussed the future of prepared food

The restaurant industry ranges from ultra casual fast-food joints to premium fine dining, and more than ever, convenience stores are earning a seat at the table. This was apparent at the 2013 National Restaurant Association Show (NRA Show), held May 18-21 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

In the first of two convenience store-specific panels that were part of the show’s educational track, Convenience Store News Editor-in-Chief Don Longo teamed up with Sheetz Inc. Executive Vice President and soon-to-be CEO Joe Sheetz to discuss the future of convenience stores as it relates to fresh, prepared food.

Longo presented select insights from CSNews’ 2013 Realities of the Aisle consumer study, showing that sandwiches, hot dogs and pizza are among the most popular prepared food items at c-stores, yet offering healthier options appears to be paying off with increased sales. Other opportunities for growth in prepared food can be found through connecting with the right shoppers, optimizing promotions to drive trips and reaching consumers in flexible ways.

Of the total foodservice category, “prepared food is the shining star” at c-stores, Longo said.

Sheetz concluded the presentation with a retrospective on […]

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Future of Convenience Stores

May 21, 2013

CHICAGO — The restaurant industry ranges from ultra casual fast-food joints to premium fine dining, and more than ever, convenience stores are earning a seat at the table. This is apparent at the 2013 National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show, which began Saturday and runs through tomorrow, May 21, at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

In the first of two convenience store-specific panels that are part of the show’s educational track, Convenience Store News Editor-in-Chief Don Longo teamed up with Sheetz Inc. Executive Vice President and soon-to-be CEO Joe Sheetz to discuss the future of convenience stores as it relates to fresh, prepared food. Foodservice is more important than ever and has remained the most profitable category at c-stores for the past five years, according to CSNews research.

Longo presented select insights from CSNews’ 2013 Realities of the Aisle consumer study, showing that sandwiches, hot dogs and pizza are among the most popular prepared food items at c-stores, yet offering healthier options appears to be paying off with increased sales. Other opportunities for growth in prepared food can be found through connecting with the right shoppers, optimizing promotions to drive trips, and reaching consumers in flexible ways.

Of the total foodservice category, “prepared […]

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Aloha Petroleum Redefines Brand

October 11, 2012

HONOLULU, Hawaii — Known on the Hawaiian island as an iconic fuel brand, Aloha Petroleum knew it needed to refresh its more than 40 convenience stores to strengthen its position in the market. The brand has been around since 1907, but was known more for its fuel than its stores. The company wanted to change that image.

“We want our Aloha Island Mart stores to be a destination, not just an afterthought,” said Larry Adams, director of sales and marketing at Aloha Petroleum.

After creating a new logo for its proprietary fuel card in 2007, Aloha decided to base its redesign and new company logo on this image and began its refresh by implementing the new look at the forecourt. By November 2010, the first prototype of the new Aloha Island Mart debuted.

“We started at the forecourt to signal to the market that something was changing with our brand. Our old image was tired and didn’t make much of a statement in the market,” Adams explained. “We wanted to rethink how we positioned ourselves as a brand and wanted to let customers know we are just as serious with our store offerings as we are about fuel.”

The company […]

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Ireland C-store Crowned International Convenience Retailer of the Year

October 3, 2012

LONDON — In a ceremony held last month at the Insight NACS Future of Convenience event here, Centra Rochestown, an Ireland convenience store that combines fresh food, a deli and an inviting dining area, was crowned the 2012 International Convenience Retailer of the Year. This is the third consecutive year the award has gone to an Ireland-based c-store.

Statoil Fuel & Retail, the Norway-based petroleum and c-store chain that was recently acquired by Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., was a highly commended runner-up in the Insight NACS competition, which included some of the world’s latest and most innovative convenience store formats.

The International Convenience Retailer of the Year award was presented during the Insight NACS Future of Convenience event in London. This annual event for the European and international convenience petroleum industry attracted delegates from more than 22 countries this year.

An elite panel of judges including Joe Bona, president of the retail division at CBX; Jeff Rogut, executive director of the Australian Association of Convenience Stores; Stephanie Rice, founder of Rice Retail Marketing; and Don Longo, editor-in-chief of Convenience Store News, shortlisted six finalists for the 2012 award. Readers of Insight’s international newsletter, Global Convenience Store Focus, were then asked to […]

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