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NATIONAL REPORT — The convenience store industry landscape is constantly changing as chains open and close stores each week. On a regular basis, Convenience Store News highlights these comings and goings in this special roundup.
Big Red Stores
This month, Big Red Stores is slated to open the first of its three new convenience stores that will debut this year. The first new location, at 906 North St. in Ward, Ark., will welcome customers in early May. The location will be the fourth to showcase the retailer's contemporary design, which is aimed at meeting changing customer needs and includes touchless bathrooms, freshly made items like pizza and burgers, and f'real milkshake machines.
"Customers' needs and expectations are changing. They want to shop when they want and how they want, and we are transforming our stores to meet those expectations," said David Hendrix, president of Summerwood Partners LLC, owner of Big Red Stores.
Casey's General Stores Inc.
The newest Casey's General Store in Minnesota began ringing up sales on April 14 and celebrated its official grand opening April 29-30. The 4,200-square-foot store in Medford features six fuel pumps that offer gasoline and diesel. Inside, customers find an array of foodservice items including Casey's freshly made pizza and doughnuts, made-to-order sandwiches, and a coffee and fountain drink area.
CEFCO Convenience Stores
CEFCO opened its third Florida Panhandle store at 555 Highway 85 N. in Niceville. This latest opening represented the 24th 5,500-square-foot prototype location CEFCO has opened over the past several years, and the third to date in 2016.
The store incorporates a number of innovative enhancements made possible by an open, fresh design with modern treatments and upgraded finishes. "We are excited to open our third Florida Panhandle location," said Brett Giesick, chief retail officer for CEFCO. "This beautiful addition offers our latest hot and cold 'Fresh Eats' grab-and-go offerings, including our 'Fresh Yo' self-service frozen yogurt concept. Additionally, we also constructed a state-of-the-art car wash system at this site."
Cumberland Farms Inc.
Cumberland Farms celebrated the grand opening of its new convenience store in Southington, Conn., on March 31. The 4,513-square-foot store, which was built in December, features 16 parking spaces, four fueling pumps, an interior high-top bar counter, and outdoor patio seating. The store also offers new food items such as pizza, macaroni and cheese bites, and hot dogs.
Green Zebra Grocery
On April 21, Green Zebra Grocery opened its second location, bringing healthy convenience to the Lloyd Neighborhood of Portland.
"The Lloyd is a perfect place for Green Zebra's smaller, urban grocery store," said Green Zebra CEO Lisa Sedlar. "The days of driving to the big store and parking in the big lot and doing the big shop are a thing of the past — it's time consuming and wasteful. Eaters today want the convenience of shopping by the meal, and our store is tailor-made for this."
The store at 808 NE Multnomah St. offers new features to cater to the neighborhood, such as an expanded grab-and-go selection; the ZeBar, where customers can sit and enjoy a pint from the 100-percent Oregon beer selection; and Portland's first grocery-based "Crowler" station.
Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores
Love's opened its second travel stop in New York on March 31. The facility is located at the intersection of Interstate 90 and State Route 22 in Canaan and is home to Love's second location with a Dunkin' Donuts restaurant. The travel stop also features a game room, five showers, 54 truck-parking spaces, RFID cardless fueling, CAT scales and a Love's Truck Tire Care center.
Love's first location with a Dunkin' Donuts restaurant opened one week earlier in Sikeston, Mo.
In addition, the company opened a new Love's Travel Stop on April 21 in Davenport, Fla., along Interstate 4 and U.S. Highway 27. The Davenport Love's features seven showers, a Love's Truck Tire Care facility, RFID cardless fueling and CAT scales. Customers can enjoy gourmet coffee, fresh fruit, gift items, an Arby's restaurant and more. This travel stop marked Love's fourth location to open in The Sunshine State since 2014.
Sheetz is opening three new convenience stores in northwest Catawba County, N.C. A store in Hickory opened March 29, followed by a store in Conover on April 11. A second new location in Hickory is slated to open its doors in June.
Sheetz has opened between nine and 12 new stores in North Carolina every year for the past eight years.
Thorntons debuted its latest "kitchen" concept store at 2609 N. Farnsworth Ave. in Aurora, Ill. This foodservice-focused Thorntons store features a grab-and-go kitchen, beverages for guests on the go, and is one in a series of remodeled stores. Guests can enjoy hot breakfast, lunch and snack items that are prepared fresh onsite every day, in addition to a variety of traditional, delicious roller grill items.
The Aurora store is the second to open in a series of Chicagoland stores that are focused on making Thorntons a food, beverage and fuel destination.
TravelCenters of America LLC
TravelCenters, operator of the TA and Petro Stopping Centers travel center brands, opened a new Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen at Interstate 5, Exit 257, in Buttonwillow, Calif. It is the 64th Popeyes restaurant operated by TA, and its sixth in California. Guests can choose from any of the full menu options, including chicken and shrimp meals and sandwiches, in addition to signature side dishes, sauces and desserts. The restaurant has seating for 44 people, a staff of 25 employees, and is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Saturday.
TravelCenters also opened a new Sbarro restaurant at Interstate 10, Exit 203, in Eloy, Ariz. This is the third Sbarro restaurant operated by TA, and its first in Arizona. The eatery serves Sbarro's Italian favorites like XL New York-style and Sicilian pizzas, stromboli and baked ziti. The restaurant has seating for 64 people, a staff of 18 employees, and is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Saturday.
Wawa reopened its convenience store in Ocean City, N.J., in early April, a little more than two months after Winter Storm Jonas shuttered the location. The store at 13th Street and West Avenue was remodeled and upgraded following the storm. The remodel included new floors, new equipment, and a complete digital signage and graphics upgrade.