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This year, Convenience Store News embarks on its 40th year. The oldest continuously published news publication for the convenience store industry was founded in 1969 by Harry Trautgott. The convenience store industry was barely an industry at all then. There were fewer than 11,000 c-stores in the United States and few people could even agree on the definition of a "convenience store."
Looking at the pages of our early issues reveals the dramatic changes in both the convenience store industry and in CSNews over the past four decades. At the time, the industry was beset with economic problems, battles with the government over unfair taxation and onerous regulation, inflation, vendor indifference and soaring crime (one article reported on a Houston-based convenience store chain owner who asked the city council for permission to arm his store managers with handguns because of a wave of robbery and violence at his stores).
But Trautgott had a vision, and he spent a great deal of his working life evangelizing about the future of c-stores. Then, as now, CSNews was a big supporter of the industry's fledgling trade association -- today's NACS -- which was then headed by QuikTrip's founder Chester Cadieux, who became the first industry executive inducted into the CSNews' Hall of Fame.
Trautgott also recognized the industry's need for reliable data, and after less than one year of publication, he researched and published the first CSNews Industry Report, which continues to serve its original purpose of charting the growth of the industry into today's ginormous $569 billion, 146,000-store business.
While we are very proud of the role we played in the development of the convenience store industry, this anniversary year celebration is about much more than just the 40th birthday of CSNews. It is an industry celebration of the hard work, vision and entrepreneurial spirit of all the retailers, suppliers and wholesalers who have made the convenience store industry the most vibrant and interesting channel of retailing today. We will celebrate our anniversary with special editorial content throughout the year. Watch for our special anniversary issue that will appear in July and for our soon-to-launch [email protected] microsite, which will enable us to include much more history, anecdotes, photos and personal accounts from industry pioneers about the early days of the convenience store industry.
On reflection, I am struck by the fact that many things are not that different today than they were in 1969. CSNews' founding year was marked by many notable, dubious and distasteful events in the world outside of convenience stores -- Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon; thousands of baby boomers gathered for a weekend of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll at Woodstock; and the Charles Manson murders and Chappaquiddick were the scandals of the day.
Today, we have the inauguration of America's first black president, millions of baby boomers panicked about their shrinking nest eggs as they near retirement age, and scandals galore, from Illinois Governor Blagojevich selling Congressional seats to Bernard Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme.
Whatever this year holds, CSNews will be there for c-store retailers, helping you make sense of the industry's major events and keeping you ahead of what's next in c-store and petroleum retailing.
Thank you to all of our readers, advertisers and contributors for supporting us. We look forward to being your premier source for industry news and information for another 40 years.