My Answer Is ‘No’

That product you’re not selling? You need to let it go

Q: I have been running convenience stores for many years and understand the importance of cash flow and inventory. But seriously, aren’t there some items that we just have to carry because we are a convenience store? You know, part of the customer-service experience?

A: No!

That might sound harsh, but in Meghan Trainor’s song “No,” she is correct: “You need to let it go” if you want to grow and maintain a pro­ table business with a healthy cash flow.

We have become so focused on being convenience stores that we have forgotten how to be retailers. If a product in your store is not selling, that means it is not relevant to your customers, and it’s taking space away from items they might actually want.

As retailers, we hate to tell a customer that we don’t carry something they want, even if it’s only once a year. But by carrying products that are slow or don’t move at all, we are essentially saying “no” to many more customers.

Don’t carry anything just because you think a convenience store should have it. Everything you have on your shelves should be justified by sales. You might as well give that bottle of mustard to the one customer who buys it twice a year; that’s certainly cheaper than what it costs you to carry it on your shelf.

Our perception of what a c-store should offer is one of the reasons so many of our stores look almost identical. And they are often equally unproductive.

So stop it.

Focus on your cash flow and retail on your terms—ones that meet what your customers

are actually looking for. Being a relevant retailer means having a relevant offer that sells, generates cash and ­fills the desires of your customers, not just your shelf space.

Ieva Grimm, an industry insider for more than ­15 years, spends her time working side by side with retailers in the convenience industry helping drive growth and profitability.

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