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Some consumers may think all convenience stores are alike, but insiders know this isn’t true. There are many features that differentiate a retailer from its competitor down the block: foodservice offerings, prices and added services, to name just a few.
But a c-store retailer needs to draw consumers in the door for them to find that out, and a key to doing that is creating a store design that sets it apart from the pack. This year, the 10th annual Convenience Store News Store Design Contest recognizes 14 c-store chains excelling in this area: five main category winners, four honorable mentions and five specialty award winners.
The Store Design Contest honors both new and rebuilt convenience stores whose designs excel in areas such as interior layout, use and effectiveness of signage and logos, and exterior property and landscaping. Awards are presented separately to chains and single stores.
Construction or remodeling of eligible stores must have taken place between January 2014 and February 2015. Winners were selected based on innovation, creativity and the positive impact of the design and/or remodel on the retailer’s overall business.
This year’s winners span the country. A Tampa, Fla., flagship store took the top honor in interior design for showcasing its family-owned, multi-generation community roots, while another flagship location in Hermiston, Ore., worked with a modest budget to meet the needs of three distinct customer groups, capturing the award for Best Mid-Budget Remodel.
Here, we profile the five main category winners. Descriptions and photo slideshows of all 14 winners, including honorable mentions and specialty awards, can be found on CSNews.com.
Buckle up as we travel across the United States and take a peek at how c-store retailers are thinking outside the box when it comes to store design.
BEST ORIGINAL DESIGN
Winner: 5 Points Market, Kerrville, Texas
Designer: Paragon Solutions
5 Points Market is the definition of “luxury convenience in a pint-size package,” according to its designer. The 2,380-square-foot micro convenience store’s exterior is coated in ledge stone capped with an asymmetrical arch.
The interior features solid goldenrod and Texas-patterned period walls that are completed with creamy chocolate ceilings and suspended ceiling clouds above the cashier. The “lavish” look is finished with blonde wood counters, chalkboard signage, and sleek black and silver accents.
When it came to the small footprint of the store, the retailer felt it was important to fit in all the essentials while staying in constant contact with its customer base. In order to do so, 5 Points Market offered an interactive customer questionnaire at checkout, which set the stage for it being on target with ideal store offerings its customers want. This focus to stay on point and love for signage design influenced the retailer to rebrand other locations to the 5 Points theme. Subsequently, Paragon Solutions created an entire 5 Points branding.
5 Points Market offers unique amenities and products including craft beer, local wines and specialty coffee served by a barista at the 5 Points Café. Seating is unlimited and can be found inside and outside, where customers can relax under a dappled sunlight.
BEST INTERIOR DESIGN
Winner: Radiant, Tampa, Fla.
Designer: Walker Brands
The Radiant convenience store, located at 27741 Wesley Chapel Blvd. in Tampa, is Radiant Group LLC’s newest 6,000-square-foot flagship store that has exceeded expectations with five times the increase in inside sales over the previous smaller Radiant store in the same location.
With increased competition in the Tampa Bay market, Radiant Group worked with design firm Walker Brands to develop a brand positioning and strategy to not only guide its store design, but also create a customer experience to stand out in today’s market.
“The design represents Radiant’s authentic family-owned, multi-generation community roots in the Tampa Bay area,” the retailer said. “The identity was evolved to be more contemporary, and the environmental graphics visually express the history of Radiant, the neighborhood of the store and the corporate philanthropic commitment to the community.”
The retailer’s goal was to use 360 degrees of interior surfaces to celebrate Radiant’s story, as a more restricted set of merchandise and point-of-sale guidelines enable customers to easily find product categories with branded touchpoints.
Sitting in a prime location directly off the interstate, the store offers freshly brewed coffee and specialty teas by a local gourmet roaster, Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea, a self-serve yogurt and milkshake bar, retail and grocery items, a Subway restaurant and Marathon gasoline.
BEST SKY’S THE LIMIT REMODEL
Winner: Metro Market, Augusta, Ga.
Designer: Paragon Solutions
Metro Market by Sprint is “a larger-than-it-appears convenience store” in downtown Augusta that combines gourmet food with walk-in convenience and a rooftop bar, according to its designer.
Dimensional graphics and unexpected architectural details, such as coffered ceilings, textured wall treatments and black porcelain enamel subway tile, add interest while creating a warm environment. The store’s neutral palette and crisp materials also create a high-end shopping experience.
Custom food orders are encouraged with easy access to kiosks and succinct signage simplifying the process. Plus, a well-thought-out layout and clear way-finding provide easy navigation.
Although the retailer Sprint Food Stores Inc. was challenged with incorporating all the convenience of a c-store into the building’s long, slender footprint, the remodel’s results have been high foot traffic and abundant customer praise.
BEST MID-BUDGET REMODEL
Winner: Space Age Fuel, Hermiston, Ore.
Designer: King Retail Solutions
The Space Age Fuel store in Hermiston serves as the Oregon chain’s flagship location, as well as the retailer’s only travel center. The store aims to meet the needs of three unique customer types: over-the-road professional truck drivers, local customers and traveling customers.
When creating the remodel plan, the retailer wanted a layout that not only works well, but also meets the needs of both professional truck drivers and residential/non-commercial travelers. Therefore, the store is laid out with a separate entrance for diesel customers who are more likely to utilize the showers, lounge and business center.
Space Age Fuel refreshed its branding at this store by creating a standout identity that distinguishes it from other truck stops and travel centers. This was done through the reimaging of colors, finishes, lighting, cabinetry, fixtures, graphics and signage.
A major focus of the store is its extensive prepared food offering, which includes fresh and healthy packaged meals to go; light grab-and-go options for breakfast, lunch and dinner; a Hot Foods bar; and proprietary Coffee Planet self-serve café. The store’s “farm to table” approach includes year-round in-store fresh produce, as well as an exterior standalone summer produce stand that is leased and operated by a local farmer.
Space Age Fuel plans to extend this new, modern store design to its other locations.
BEST LOW-COST REMODEL
Winner: Love’s Travel Stop, Middletown, Pa.
Designer: DAS Companies Inc.
Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores partnered with design firm DAS Companies Inc. to reimagine how consumers shop for mobile electronics at highway travel stops. Together, they created the MOBILE 2 GO zone, in which they remodeled the apparel department into a sensory-charged, convenient, mobile electronics shopping experience.
The MOBILE 2 GO zone features:
- A host of interactive displays that serve as “virtual salespeople”
- Electronic Engagement Center
- Sound Station
- TV Tower display
- Garmin vivofit display
The interactive merchandising is housed in a maple-laminate, slatwall-anchored bookcase system. Products are organized by category within the bookcases and in coordinating H-island displays placed on a diagonal to encourage customer entry.
The remodel objective was to drive incremental Love’s comp store sales, while establishing Love’s as the destination for mobile electronics on America’s highways. Despite executional challenges in the remodeling process, within 90 days and five store remodels, Love’s saw a double-digit percentage sales increase, shopper traffic increase, positive customer feedback and a strong Love’s store operations reception, according to the contest entry.
As a result, Love’s expanded the MOBILE 2 GO zone rollout to 100 new and remodeled stores.