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    New Organic Market Focuses on Convenience

    Owner lowers gas prices to stimulate store traffic.

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In an effort to provide an upscale, healthy option for customers, Johnson Family Markets, a 6,000-square-foot natural market, convenience store and full-service gas station, opened its doors earlier this month, the Charlotte Observer reported.

    Drawing inspiration from his experiences with open-air markets in Germany, Mathew Johnson, 42, told the paper he always wanted to open a healthy, progressive convenience store, "kind of like a smaller version of Trader Joe's, with the ability to get gas."

    Among products offered are organic snacks, produce and wine. And while Johnson conceded his community is still getting used to this style of store, smaller-format gourmet food stores on popping up all over the country, including chains such as Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets, which are nearly twice the size at 10,000 square feet.

    As self proclaimed "hyper person," Johnson said when he is shopping he prefers quality and speed. "I like getting in, getting what I want and getting out," he told the paper. "Our whole thing is 'conveniently organic,'" Johnson said. "I want [customers] to feel like just because you're stopping at a convenience store doesn't mean you can't get something [of good] quality."

    However, it is not always easy to get customers through the door. To this end, Johnson offers full-service Shell-branded gas at wholesale cost. Today he is expected to sell regular unleaded gas for $3.99 a gallon, roughly six cents cheaper than his nearest competitor, according to the report.

    "So many people are trying to make a profit off gas," he told the paper. "I just offer it as an added convenience. It's the same as offering a restroom. It allows a person to stop."

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