America Is Obsessed With Convenience Stores

by Paul Schlossberg
Posted On: 1/14/2020

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Are Americans obsessed with our vending machines and micromarkets?

The headline above is taken from a posting at the NACS[1] Media Daily feed on Dec. 6, 2019. You might want to read the article -- “America Is Obsessed With C-Stores.”

Since obsessed is such a strong, emotionally charged word, it might be helpful to share a definition from Merriman-Webster.com. The online dictionary defines obsessed as “preoccupied with or haunted by some idea, interest, etc.” 

The source for this NACS posting might surprise you. On Dec. 4, 2019 Food & Wine[2] posted “America’s Best Convenience Stores, Ranked.” The sub-headline was very important – “The best food you'll find on the road.”

NACs reported on 22 c-store chains. As usual for me, when a “best of” listing is posted, my first thoughts are: (a) how many of these places have we been dined (or shopped) at?; and (b) where are the others located so our travel itineraries can be adapted to include some more good eating experiences. Happily, we’ve been to 11 of these c-store chains. Three of my favorites (noted with a «) are highly ranked. The top five according to the editors at Food & Wine are:

1. Buc-ee’s «

2. Wawa «

3. Stewart’s Shops

4. Sheetz «

5. Parker’s

By the way, in the blurb about Buc-ee’s in the Food & Wine posting is a photo of “The one and only Tootsie Tomanetz, the beloved pitmaster of Snow’s BBQ since it opened its doors in 2003.” She is holding what appears to be a 52-ounce Buc-ee’s travel mug. It is huge compared to my own 32-ounce Buc-ee’s travel mug.

The reason to mention that photo and Snow’s BBQ is to tell you about the Snow’s BBQ we enjoyed a couple of months ago on Thanksgiving. In 2017, Snow’s was voted #1 BBQ Restaurant in Texas by Texas Monthly. We ordered their BBQ Brisket, BBQ Pork Ribs, Original Sausage and a bottle of Snow’s Original BBQ Sauce. The brisket was amazing. Delicious. Moist. The “bark”[3] was indescribably tasty. What a treat. Seeing the photo of pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz brought back wonderful food memories for me.

Let’s get back to why America loves convenience stores. The convenience store business has learned that good food drives incremental sales and profit. Each of these 22 c-stores, and many others around the country, have done a great job with their food menus and enhancing and improving the shopping décor and design. They deliver good food, good value and a good shopping experience.

Our industry sells good food.  We have enhanced and improved the shopping environment at locations we serve. If you want to sell more stuff, keep up the good work and continue to deliver good food and good shopping experiences. Maybe some day in the future Food & Wine will post a headline “America Is Obsessed With Vending Machines And Micromarkets.”

PAUL SCHLOSSBERG

Paul Schlossberg is president of D/FW Consulting, working with clients to merchandise and market products in impulse-intense selling environments, such as vending, onsite foodservice and convenience stores. Based in the Austin, TX, area, he can be reached by emailing to Paul@DFWConsulting.net, calling him at (972) 877-2972. The company is online at www.DFWConsulting.net



[1] National Association of Convenience Stores

[2] Food & Wine describes their editorial direction as “…(going) way beyond mere eating and drinking. We’re on a mission to find the most exciting places, new experiences, emerging trends and sensations.”

[3] According to www.napoleon.com: “Bark is the combination of the spices that you rubbed on your meat and the smoke from your smoker, combining with the meat protein in a chemical reaction. Good bark on a brisket or pork shoulder will make the meat resemble a giant hunk of track ballast or a meteor (the flavor is out of this world too).”