The Best Place To Build Convenience Stores

by Paul Schlossberg
Posted On: 8/13/2018

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Paul Schlossberg
You're asking yourself right now, "What, if anything, does this have to do with my business?" The answer is that convenience stores are probably our most significant day-to-day competition.

Never be obsessed with or fixated about competitors. Your focus and drive should always be on your own business and how it can be successful. But, our industry must be well aware of what competitors are doing so that we can determine how to maximize our own efforts. If we understand how "they" think, we can be proactive in being the preferred choice for the people at the locations we serve. With that in mind, we should know more about where c-stores are likely to be expanding.

The article on cspdailynews.com was "10 Best Places To Build C-Stores." That headline grabbed my attention. CSP described how they selected their top 10: "(We) picked the following markets based on demographic shifts, livability and interest from the c-store channel." Here is the list:    
1.  Cape Coral, FL
2.  Charlotte, NC
3.  Colorado Springs, CO
4.  Franklin, TN
5.  Houston, TX
6.  Phoenix, AZ
7.  Round Rock, TX
8.  Salt Lake City, UT
9.  San Antonio, TX
10. Seattle, WA

If your business is operating in, or is close to, one of these areas, you should see this as good news. The reasons are obvious. Your business is in position to capitalize on population growth and a healthy economic environment.

Locally, have you been paying attention to where new homes and apartments being built? That means that all sorts of businesses will be needed to serve the emerging population in those areas. It will include: banks; doctor's offices; emergency clinics; supermarkets; etc. Some of those businesses will be potential accounts for you.

The big question, no matter where you live and work, is how well you have organized your company's efforts to grow with your current locations and seek new business. NOTE: We live in the Austin, TX, area. When we are out and about, it's my habit to identify who provides the vending, OCS or onsite foodservice. The OCS service at two local businesses is from a Dallas-based company. Here is a really good example of an operator paying attention to where the opportunities are.

But when you look at that top 10 list, it's not all good news. The bad news might be heading to your city. Maybe you've noticed new construction for fast food restaurants, convenience stores and chain drug stores. The competition wants to be conveniently located as cities and towns continue to grow.

Their logic has been consistent over the years. New stores are opened as new neighborhoods are built up. Sometimes it revolves around "one store per X people" in an area. Or it could be that a "new store should be within a certain distance (in miles or time) from X people." They're building new stores to avoid leaving any gaps in their ability to serve the public

Let's look at convenience stores as an example. If the population in an area increases, you know that the c-stores are coming soon because people need to gas up their cars. Motor fuel is sold at 79.1% of convenience stores.  

According to data from NACS (the National Association of Convenience Stores), the number of c-stores has grown by 55% in the three decades beginning in 1987.
• 1987 – 100,200 stores
• 1997 – 108,800 stores
• 2007 – 146,294 stores
• 2017 – 154,958 stores

NACS data also indicates that three states have almost 25% of the c-stores in the U.S. If your business is in these states, you're well aware of c-stores as competitors.
• Texas – 15,813 stores
• California – 11,946 stores
• Florida – 9,891 stores

Are you in business in the Miami-Dade County area? Perhaps you're already aware that there is a new c-store under construction on Coral Way near Southwest 72nd Avenue in Miami. It will be a Wawa gas station and convenience store. Their first Florida store opened in 2012 in Winter Haven. Wawa is opening about 20 more Florida stores in 2018. They will be a tough competitor for companies in our industry across Florida.

If you follow my blogs, you've seen Wawa mentioned a number of times. It is one of my three favorite convenience stores. Only one of those three chains is in Texas. When on the road, my route is influenced by the nearest locations of any of these three c-store chains.

Think about your own preference for convenience stores, especially when you need to fill up your car. Do you go inside to "fill up yourself?" Ask your route techs and other team members about their favorite c-store locations. Make it your business to visit some of those stores. Odds are you'll learn some things about product selection and merchandising.

The opportunity to build convenience stores can belong to us. We can deploy micromarkets, both large and small, at locations we serve. Our business operates at the most convenient place for the people who are at these sites. We'll leave the details and the "how to" for another time.

Today's lessons about selling more stuff are really easy to understand. First, pay attention where the economic growth is occurring in your area. Second, identify where the competition is adding stores near your locations. Third, keep improving how you serve all of your locations. Do those things, and do them well, and you'll be on the right path to selling more stuff.





» 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 at Paul@DFWConsulting.net or (972) 877-2972 or www.DFWConsulting.net.