Drinking Outside the Box

Wine in a Tetra Pak? Ready-to-drink cocktails and shots in a pouch? Brillant … if you’re a consumer. But for the convenience-store operator, these packaging innovations can be a head-scratcher.

Alternative packaging for alcohol arguably originated decades ago with wine in a box. While consumer perception of boxed wine hasn’t always been favorable, that’s no longer the case.

“Many consumers are now accepting of the ‘box wine’ proposition and appreciate the

Catch the Meal-Kit Craze

Blue Apron

Ready-to-cook meal kits are all about convenience. At least that’s what Erik Thoresen, principal with Chicago-based Technomic, thought.

But it turns out there’s more to it than that.

According to Technomic’s research, convenience is just one of the reasons behind the growing trend. Health and, interestingly, entertainment value were attractive features that showed up signi­ficantly in consumer surveys.

Rutter's Cleans Up

Rutters Farm Store convenience store

This was Rutter’s Farm Stores’ first year in the CSP/Service Intelligence Mystery Shop, and it’s off to a sparkling start.

The York, Pa.-based chain of more than 60 stores ranked ­fifth in the mystery shop overall. Helping it place high was its strong cleaning game, beginning with the exterior.

“Cleanliness is built into the culture of this company,” says Jere Matthews, vice president of operations for Rutter’s Farm Stores. “It’s been here since day one.”

Developments in the Snack Aisle

snacking data

Snacks are big business. And that big business is getting bigger—especially for convenience and dollar stores.

There’s a lot to consider when building your snack set: evolving flavor trends, new pressures from e-commerce providers (most of whom acknowledge snack varieties are a centerpiece of their selling portfolios) and the mercurial trends surrounding kids’ habits and tendencies.

Opinion: It's a Sign

store window signage

Q: If we promoted every deal we have, the entire store would be covered in signs. There is a lot of talk about marketing and promotion of foodservice products, but what signage works best for varying retail categories?

A: It is impossible to measure the exact effect of every piece of signage or marketing initiative. Still, there is solid evidence that instore signage plays an important role in driving sales. Here are some pointers from my store experiences that have resulted in effective signage.

Opinion: 40 Trips Around the Sun

40th birthday cupcake

It seems I’m turning ‑ this month.

Boy, that went by fast.

I still remember how it felt riding my bike to the Kwik Trip with my friend to pick up a bag of milk for my mom, or an Urge pizza to throw in the oven for lunch.

I remember the Sinclair station where we took our big yellow Pacer for regular tuneups. There was an old-fashioned, glass-bottle Coca-Cola machine—the kind with the bottle opener in the door. I still remember the way that soda pop tasted. It was the coldest Coke. It was the bubbliest.

Freddy's Finds a Fabulous Franchise

bowl of Dippin Dots

Jeff Warnick needed something absolutely fabulous. He was determined to find a franchise that mirrored his credo: providing “fabulous fun” for his customers.

Warnick, chief financial officer for Las Vegas-based Fabulous Freddy’s, a chain of eight stores, found it in a Doc Popcorn/Dippin’ Dots co-branded franchise venture. He debuted the concept in his St. George, Utah, store last March.

Making Produce Sales Productive

fresh vegetables

Consumers have their trusted go-to places, from farmers markets to supermarkets, to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables. Your convenience store could soon be one of them, if it isn’t already.

The carrot at the end of the stick? A growing number of consumers now identify c-stores as purveyors of fresh varieties of all kinds.

This past spring, Temple, Texas-based McLane Co. introduced McLane Kitchen’s Fresh Produce + supply-chain
solution, a move made in conjunction with its participation in Partnership for a Healthier America.

Meat Snack Variety Packs: People Pleasers?

Oberto Beef Jerky 6-Pack

You’ve heard it before: Consumers want variety, options and new flavors. You’ve likely already tweaked your foodservice offering and packaged-goods selection to meet these needs, but could variety packs or multipacks be part of the solution?

Tapping Into New Beer Concepts

beer growler

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

Sure, your store isn’t likely to be the next Cheers. But you can still create a neighborhood destination using the same tools. You don’t even need Sam or Diane to pour.

Both growler and crowler concepts have expanded beyond brewpubs and permeated the c-store market, allowing consumers to sample from a wide selection of craft and macrobrews and pinpoint their taste preferences.



8 Non-Alcoholic Beverages Making a Splash

Several non-alcoholic beverage releases are making a mark at the retail level since their arrival, spanning sodas, fruit-based, sparkling water, carbonated spritzers, energy and healthy drinks touting functional ingredients such as electrolytes and antioxidants. 

5 Fall-inspired C-store Launches

Limited-time rollouts during the fall season typically emphasize two consumer desires: football and Halloween. 

6 C-Store Health and Wellness Brands

Energy shots across convenience were a $628 million market, growing in dollars a paltry 0.2% and losing 2.3% in units, according to Chicago-based IRI.