As Pat Determan, owner of Lyons Filling Station in Clinton, Iowa, prepares to ramp up his outdoor lunch-time grilling program in late March, he has some unfinished winter business to attend to. This includes pushing volume of certain core items across the store that get his customers through the dog days of winter.
When asked about the top velocity driver during the winter months, the Phillips-branded convenience-store retailer doesn’t hesitate: “Hot chocolate. It’s huge. On average we sell one [bag-in-box] of Nestle-branded dark hot chocolate, which translates to about 30 to 40 dispensed cups, a day. My Ronnoco coffee-program distributor is nice enough to let us use the (leased) cappuccino machine to dispense hot chocolate part of each day,” says Determan.
The operator also singled out other winter favorites in his 2,800-square-foot store: Big Train Raspberry Chai Tea from Kerry Foodservice, and Broaster and Brakebush Brothers chicken programs.
On the proprietary side, selling out regularly at his Det’s Diner foodservice program are Take N Bake pizza—a chicken/white-garlic variety flashes brisk winter-time sales—homemade chili and chicken noodle soup from Heinz Quality Chef. “With the soup, we take leftover chicken, remove the skin and use it to prepare the soup, so it’s a great outlet for eliminating waste,” Determan says.
What follows are 14 must-have cold-weather products to help get customers to winter’s finish line.