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    'Dew' as Dash In Does

    Regional chain boosts customer traffic by participating in this summer's Dew Tour.

    By Linda Lisanti, Convenience Store News

    LA PLATA, Md. -- They say location is everything, and that's certainly been true for Dash In Food Stores this summer. Having several locations en route to Ocean City, Md. -- one of the 2011 Dew Tour's four stops and the site of its first-ever beachfront event -- the regional convenience store chain knew it was in a perfect position to capitalize on the action sports tour coming to town.

    Dash In signed on with Ball Park to participate in the brand's Dew Tour sponsorship this year -- one of two convenience chains to do so. This is the third year Ball Park has brought a Dew Tour program to convenience stores. Dash In was the exclusive partner for the Ocean City tour stop in July, while Terrible Herbst will take part in the October Las Vegas tour stop.

    At each stop under the program, Ball Park hands out 20,000 coupons at its Ball Park Hot Zone! stage in Festival Village for a free Ball Park frank from the convenience store partner. The coupon includes a listing of the store locations closest to the event site for convenient and immediate redemption opportunities, according to Catherine Porter, senior customer marketing manager, convenience stores, for Sara Lee Corp., manufacturer of the Ball Park brand.

    In the four weeks leading up to the event, the participating c-stores feature in-store point-of-sale signage on and around their roller grills, informing consumers of the upcoming Dew Tour stop and the exciting prizes and events that will be featured at the Ball Park Hot Zone! Ball Park also provides the convenience store partner with 30 free passes to the Dew Tour event to be used as consumer promotions or employee engagement incentives.

    "The Dew Tour provides a great connection with the convenience store’s core roller grill consumer -- 'satisfied dudes' as we call them," Porter said. "The connection of the Dew Tour event, Ball Park brand and the convenience store partner brings an element of excitement, engagement and loyalty for the consumer, [plus] that added coolness factor by demonstrating this store and this brand understand and relate to the interests and lifestyle of that consumer."

    All 49 of Dash In's stores took part in the Dew Tour promotion, but Retail Area Manager Brady Appleton said the retailer has seen the most positive direct impact at its store just over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and its other 10 or so locations along the route to Ocean City from all directions, such as Delaware, the Washington, D.C. metro area and Philadelphia.

    "One of the reasons we wanted to do this was because of the popularity of the Dew Tour," Appleton told CSNews Online. "We had an influx of people from the event already in our stores, [and] this further capitalized. We have a lot of stores that are in route to Ocean City, Md., which were able to see a significant increase in traffic from this event."

    Every Dash In store has two roller grills spinning at all times, offering Ball Park hot dogs and a variety of Tornadoes, as well as Hillshire Farms products. According to Appleton, the chain has "very strong" roller grill sales, particularly during the morning hours and at lunchtime.

    "We are known for our food at Dash In," he added.

    While it's too soon to tell what its exact coupon redemption success will be -- since the coupons, valued up to $1.09, are valid through Aug. 31 -- Appleton said he would already deem the Dew Tour program "very successful." The retailer's July sales were very strong, especially in foodservice and cold beverages (both at the fountain and in the cold vault).

    "We've seen the closer the Dash In store to Ocean City, the better the results," he said.

    The company also put its own spin on the Dew Tour program by incorporating some fundraising for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), for which it is a major contributor. In the week leading up to the event, the store closest to the Dew Tour stop raffled off the free event passes Dash In received. The effort was able to raise several hundred dollars for the MDA.

    "We look forward to continuing these types of promotions," said Appleton.

    By Linda Lisanti, Convenience Store News
    • About Linda Lisanti Linda Lisanti is editor-in-chief for EnsembleIQ's Convenience Store News and Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner media brands. In this role, she is responsible for content development across all of CSNews' print and online properties, with a specialty in coverage of the foodservice category in convenience stores. Lisanti has more than 13 years of experience in the journalism field. After working as a reporter for several daily newspapers, she joined CSNews as a staff writer in August 2005 and held senior writer, senior editor and executive editor positions before becoming editor-in-chief in August 2014. Lisanti has a bachelor’s degree in communications/journalism from Rowan University.
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