ProStop Convenience Stores: A Sports Fan's Paradise
By Tammy Mastroberte
ProStop marries the design of a professional sporting arena with the offerings of a c-store
In October 2010, the Larry H. Miller Group of Cos. and Solutions Operations Management celebrated the grand opening of the first ProStop Convenience Store in Utah — a unique c-store concept based on the sports and entertainment-themed businesses owned by the Larry H. Miller Group, including the Utah Jazz professional basketball team, the Salt Lake Bees minor league baseball team, the Miller Motorsports Park and the Larry H. Miller Megaplex Theaters throughout Utah.
While Solutions Operations Management brought years of c-store operating experience to the table, Larry H. Miller purchased the property and serves as the landlord. This November, a second location opened in Draper, Utah, serving as the company's prototype store, and a third is set to open shortly.
"We are on track to more than double our current number of stores in 2012," Max Hunsaker III, vice president of marketing for Solutions Operations Management, based in Draper, Utah, told Convenience Store News. "Our goal isn't to have the greatest number of locations, but to have them placed in the best locations. It takes time to find them and develop them appropriately."
ProStop Convenience Stores are a sports lover's paradise, designed to resemble a professional sports stadium starting with the exterior. The domed bell roof used for the entrance is classic in sports architecture, as is the full wall of glass, Hunsaker explained.
"The full wall of glass for the entrance is what the modern basketball arenas look like, and it gives customers an idea of what the store is going to be like inside," he said.
The prototype store is 6,000 square feet, and although the first location was a remodel, all new locations going forward will be new construction, Hunsaker noted. There are 14 fueling positions, and the Draper site offers specially designed recreation vehicle (RV) fueling areas.
"The core idea with the RV areas is when a person is pulling a trailer or a rig, they don't want to worry about backing up. So our site is laid out in a way that they can always pull ahead," he said.
The site offers high-speed diesel pumps, an island to access propane, water and air, and a complimentary RV dump, as well as a full line of ProStop fuels. Both sites to date are unbranded, so they offer ProStop Performance Fuels, a high-octane option, a full selection of race fuels and a ProStop Performance Booster — a fuel additive injected directly into the fuel as it pumps.
"Our goal isn't to have the greatest number of locations, but to have them placed in the best locations. It takes time to find them and develop them appropriately."
Each Wayne fueling pump features in-pump display units where customers are greeted and welcomed to ProStop. The system also allows the store to show video in full color and offer coupons to print and use inside the store, which Hunsaker said people take advantage of every day.
"People who make a fuel purchase at the pump can print coupons for deals they can't get anywhere else, like a 44-ounce fountain drink for 89 cents," he said. "We want to give them every incentive possible to make the short walk into the store and see what we have to offer. This is an easy way to do that."
The prototype store also offers a drive-thru where customers can purchase a variety of items, including options from the foodservice program called ProStop Fresh. Customers also are greeted with a menu of c-store favorites, including energy drinks, candy bars, beef jerky, sunflower seeds and everyday items such as bread, eggs and milk.
The sports stadium theme found on the exterior carries inside the store through a range of interior graphics showing sports from the everyday to the extreme. Larry H. Miller Group sports properties, including the Utah Jazz and Miller Motorsports Park, are highlighted in the store as well.
"We have the Utah Jazz players and dancers, race cars and photos from the track, and photos from the Tour of Utah bike race in the area," Hunsaker said. "It's about cross-promoting these exciting local brands."
This cross-promotion carries over into the cold cups at the fountain, as well as the mugs available for purchase. All items feature the same sports graphic theme.
Additionally, the interior is set up so customers can order food at a counter and sit down to watch a sports game or race on the wall of television monitors, which cover 22 feet of the store, and are visible from the outside. "The monitors accomplish two things," Hunsaker explained. "We wanted to provide something that was similar to the excitement of going to a sports bar or an actual game, but we also use it for digital signage, promoting our partners and in-store specials."
ProStop Fresh foodservice items are made fresh on-site multiple times per day, and the store features a walk-up counter where customers can place an order and then sit down to eat. They can also order food at the drive-thru, along with gourmet drip coffees or espresso drinks.
The foodservice program includes a full offering of breakfast options, coffee items, and lunch and dinner selections, including sandwiches, pizza and barbeque. Currently, foodservice makes up 30 percent of in-store sales, according to Hunsaker.
"We bake our breads and pizza fresh, and we also bake our own hot dog buns," he said. "Foodservice is a profit center for us and a significant portion of our sales. This is where we see the largest growth opportunity for the future, and why we created a drive-thru. We want to make it easy for customers to buy from us."
The prototype location also features a beer vault, stocked with domestic beer, as well as options from local brewers. Beer is the No. 2 category in terms of in-store sales, following tobacco products. Other top categories in order of sales include energy drinks, bottled soft drinks, fountain beverages and fresh-baked products.
In addition to typical c-store fare, the store sells sports apparel and merchandise from the variety of Larry H. Miller Group properties, and soon customers will be able to purchase tickets for the different Larry H. Miller Group properties including the Megaplex theater, Hunsaker said.
With three stores, and plans to double that number this year, ProStop Convenience Stores is one to watch in the Utah area.
For comments, please contact Tammy Mastroberte, Contributing Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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