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    Corner Store Goes Big in Eagle Ford Shale

    CST Brands' largest store to date serves busy oil-field community.

    By Tammy Mastroberte, Convenience Store News
    Oil field community

    THREE RIVERS, Texas -- CST Brands Inc., parent company of the Corner Store chain, opened its 1,033rd location this summer in Three Rivers. At 10,100 square feet, it is the company’s largest store to date, and is located in the heart of a busy agricultural and oil-field community known as Eagle Ford Shale.

    With no competition at its highway exit, this Corner Store serves the needs of travelers looking for a pit stop to break up the long stretch of empty highway between San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Texas, as well as those who travel the route daily for work. In fact, many oil-field workers in the area stop at the store more than once a day to buy food, drinks and gasoline, Kim Bowers, CEO of CST Brands, told CSNews Online.

    “Many of our customers are hardworking, oil-field workers who often come to our stores as much as three times a day,” she said. “We have four stores in the Eagle Ford area -- two in Three Rivers, one in George West, and one in Tilden and Kenedy.”

    CST bought an existing store at the site and razed and rebuilt it within seven months, including a 30-day design period. The location encompasses a Corner Store, as well as a travel center featuring a Subway restaurant, and indoor and outdoor seating. Indoors, a trucker area provides 14 seats, along with six quick-service restaurant (QSR) seats for quick snacking or sitting down with a cup of coffee. Outdoors, there are six picnic tables, each with seating for four people.

    The new Three Rivers store also features extra-large restrooms that are three times larger than their usual size, according to Bowers. Both the men’s and women’s restrooms are each 540 square feet. Meanwhile, the parking lot offers 111 parking spaces, and customers can fuel up with 10 gasoline dispensers, E85 fuel and six, high-speed dispensers.

    “We are about making customers’ lives easier," Bowers said. "From the fuel islands that allow for easy access, to inside the store where speed matters, we want to make it easy for our customers to get back on the road, while providing them with the quality, value and freshness of our products that can’t be beat.”

    Foodservice Focus

    The convenience store portion of the site spans 5,500 square feet and features two ATM machines, a 500-square-foot beer cave plus a wide variety of merchandise, beverages and snacks. There is a big focus on foodservice, including fresh food, fountain and hot beverage offerings.

    Among the fresh food offerings are signature Corner Store items such as kolaches, whoopie pies, cookies and doughnuts — all baked fresh in the c-store. In 2012, CST Brands sold more than 4 million kolaches and 1.3 million whoopie pies at its U.S. locations.

    “We offer breakfast tacos with homemade tortillas, grilled sausages, all-beef hot dogs with white or wheat buns, fresh-cut fruit and salads,” Bowers added.

    The c-store also carries Corner Store private label items, such as U Force energy and sports drinks; FC bottled soda; and six varieties of Cibolo Mountain coffee. An additional part of the store's hot beverage offering is 15 flavors of cappuccino and hot chocolate, including sugar-free French Vanilla.

    The dispensed beverage area of the c-store consists of a 30-head fountain with the area’s most popular national brands mixed with proprietary Flavors2Go options. Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Mountain Dew, Big Red, Sprite, Coke, Coke Zero, Hawaiian Punch, Lemon Lime Gatorade, Fruit Punch Gatorade and Tea can be found alongside Fresh Choices brands such as root beer, cherry limeade and pineapple. The Fresh Choices beverages are made with pure cane sugar, Bowers noted.

    Currently, CST Brands operates 41 travel centers, but it doesn’t have plans for another location of this size. Still, the company creates the design of its stores so they can be adapted to meet the needs of whatever area they serve.

    “Our core 5,500-square-foot store design is purposefully flexible to enable us to opportunistically add additional services to either end of the building,” said Bowers. “In many instances, we add a branded QSR or extra space to service the truck-driving customer base. We even have locations where we have added bait shops to service the local recreational customer.”

    By Tammy Mastroberte, Convenience Store News
    • About Tammy Mastroberte Contributing Editor Tammy Mastroberte is an award-winning writer, with more than 16 years of experience in the magazine publishing industry. She writes on a variety of subjects, including retail technology. Mastroberte previously served as executive editor of EnsembleIQ’s Convenience Store News.

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