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Kangaroo Express has long supported military personnel and their families, but this May, the convenience store chain took its commitment a step further with the opening of the first military-themed Kangaroo Express store in Fayetteville, N.C., right outside Fort Bragg.
The subsidiary of The Pantry Inc., based in Cary, N.C., even hosted a roundtable at the United Service Organization (USO) of North Carolina Fort Bragg Center to gather input on the store design from servicemen and women, along with their families.
?The roundtable was instrumental in ensuring the store achieved its goal of becoming a welcoming and inviting place for the local Fayetteville military community,? said Gordon Schmidt, senior vice president of operations at Kangaroo Express.
Kangaroo Express has more than 1,500 locations across 13 states, and more than half of the chain?s stores are within 25 miles of a military installation. In fact, one-third of the retailer?s employees have a direct connection to the Armed Forces, Schmidt said, adding that the new store is located just outside of a major entrance to Fort Bragg and is another way the company can show its military support and appreciation.
The c-store chain already runs an annual ?Salute Our Troops? campaign to raise funds for various military support organizations. From the week before Independence Day through Labor Day, Kangaroo Express invites customers to donate to the campaign at each store?s checkout. The money raised supports the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, Fisher House Foundation, U.S. Veterans Corps and six state-based military support organizations. This year, Salute Our Troops marked its fourth year.
?Since its commencement in 2011, the Salute Our Troops campaign has raised $8.4 million, breaking fundraising records for many of its beneficiary organizations,? Schmidt said.
The 2013 campaign raised more than $528,000 for the Fisher House Foundation ? the largest contributor to the construction of the new Fisher House at Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, scheduled to open in spring 2015. Salute Our Troops has also raised more than $763,000 for the USO of North Carolina over the past three years.
?For the first time, [in 2014], the summer-long initiative introduced Salute Our Troops ?ROO Rides,? motorcycle charity rides that drove hometown support and recognized military heroes and families in local communities along its route,? Schmidt said.
A STORE TO CALL THEIR OWN
While the military-themed Fayetteville store offers the same products customers would expect to find at any Kangaroo Express location, including Bean Street Coffee and ROO Cup dispensed beverage offerings, there were many additions made to this store?s design and services based directly on feedback received at the military roundtable.
?The store features all of the great products and attributes guests expect from a brand-new Kangaroo Express, with a military theme added to the atmosphere,? Schmidt explained. ?That includes classic features being rebranded, such as The Cold Canteen walk-in cooler and Wash Rack car wash. It also includes callouts to military support initiatives, such as Support Our Troops logos on the gas pumps, and a Wall of Honor recognizing hometown heroes in the area.?
The Wash Rack can accommodate both civilian and military vehicles, with automatic wash, foam, rinse and wax options. The name of the car wash, which is known as Wash-a-Roo at other Kangaroo Express locations, was suggested and chosen based on a unanimous decision by the military participants at the roundtable.
The roundtable participants also helped select the six murals at the store that depict military men and women serving their country. ?Thanks to great feedback from participants, the murals now [depict] a wide selection of military duties and prominently feature a female soldier,? Schmidt said. ?In the coming months, we will be opening up these mural locations to local artist submissions.?
The Wall of Honor inside the store recognizes local community members from the Fayetteville area, as well as from local military service organizations. The wall is located between the Kangaroo Express store and the adjoining Subway restaurant, which features a drive-thru and seating for approximately 30 guests.
Additionally, the No. 1 request made at the roundtable was offering whipped topping machines at the store, so the chain is currently testing two different whipped toppings at the location, according to Schmidt.
In terms of unique promotions, the Fayetteville store will focus on the ?unique travel patterns of military personnel traveling on and off Fort Bragg,? he said. ?For example, a mid-day pick-me-up deal may be featured on Friday afternoons as officers leave base prior to the usual afternoon drive time.?
In the future, Kangaroo Express plans to open more quick-service restaurants and continue remodeling stores. More than 40 Kangaroo Express locations have received upgrades over the past year.