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    All in the Family for Minit Mart

    The convenience chain chose Earnhart + Friends as its agency of record.

    BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- The 34-unit Minit Mart convenience chain selected Earnhart + Friends as its agency of record for all advertising, public relations and marketing needs, the Bowling Green Daily News reported.

    What makes the deal unique is the businesses, both headquartered in Bowling Green, Ky., are connected by marital ties through the owners, the report stated.

    For Minit Mart owner Fred Higgins, the arrangement means marketing for his stores will be a concerted, united effort, which frees the company to focus on building restaurant operations within its convenience stores, which employ 600 people through its locations in Tennessee and Kentucky, according to the report. Approximately 26 out of the 34 stores have foodservice brands including Cuppajoe, O'Deli's, Godfather's Pizza and the soon-to-be-unveiled Minit Mix fountain drink, the report stated.

    Minit Mart's previous work with Earnhart + Friends was done on a case-by-case basis, Higgins told the paper. In 2006, the agency rebranded its coffee offering to Cuppajoe, and saw sales of the category rise nearly 40 percent from November 2006 to February 2007, the report stated. Other projects included promotional events at Western Kentucky University and outdoor and point-of-sale print work, according to Earnhart + Friends founder, president and CEO Tim Earnhart.

    "We had to prove ourselves," Earnhart told the paper. "I'm in the results-driven business."

    Both companies have grown as a result of the partnership.

    "As we've evolved, he's been evolving and it's neat," Higgins told the paper. Higgins' business has grown from convenience stores to convenience restaurants, where they compete with stand-alone restaurants in many rural areas. In addition, the Dawson Springs Minit Mart is expected to reopen in March with Higgins' restaurant brand, the report stated.

    "He's a visionary in the convenience store industry," Earnhart said of Higgins. "He's doing it like no one else is doing it."

    Meanwhile, there is more growth on the horizon for Minit Mart. Stores in Nicholasville and Harrodsburg, Ky., are being rebuilt to offer O'Deli's and Godfather's pizza options, as well as the Cuppajoe and Minit Mix fountain beverages, according to the report. By 2010, seven additional stores will add foodservice, the report stated. Internally, the chain will receive new information technology and accounting systems, the Daily News reported.

    "We're striving to get better," Higgins told the paper. "We're listening for the next change."

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