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    New Upscale C-Store Debuts in Atlanta

    Market at Jodeco holds grand opening over weekend.

    HENRY COUNTY, Ga. -- A real estate investment and advisory firm on Saturday held the grand opening of the first of what it hopes will be several upscale convenience stores ringing the metro Atlanta market.

    Richard Bell, director of Investment Property Advisors (IPA), a privately-held firm based here, this weekend took the wraps off of "The Market at Jodeco," a new prototype retail store at a corner location in Henry County, Ga. In addition to a 4,100-square-foot convenience store, the site also includes a proprietary motor fuel operation under the Fuelsource brand.

    The product mix of "The Market at Jodeco" is comprised of about 80 percent of the normal c-store assortment of cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and snacks. "We're a traditional convenience store presented in a more consumer-friendly way," Bell told CSNews online in an exclusive interview.

    Designed by MRP Design Group in Marietta, Ga., the new store contains several rare features for a typical c-store, including upscale exterior and interior design, an upscale canopy design with high-tech lighting and dispensers, a state-of-the-art food and beverage area, and an overall market approach designed to draw a wide variety of patrons into the store. Bell estimated that 40 to 50 percent of the store's customers during its soft opening week have been women, and many of them shopped the store with their children.

    The interior of The Market at Jodeco is spacey and alluring, presenting "an atmosphere more conducive to a pleasurable shopping experience," said Bell, who added that his biggest problem so far has been finding distributors who can supply the finer, more gourmet-type products that are key to differentiating his store from other c-stores. The easiest way to describe the store is to say it is "one-part Starbucks, one-part Barnes & Noble, one-part gourmet deli and one-part c-store," explained Bell, who hired a former QuikTrip executive, Larry Boehm, to run the retail operations for the fledgling chain.

    The company is currently under contract for one additional store and in negotiations for two others on the south side of Atlanta. The plan is to open a cluster of four to five stores south of the city and then another similarly-size cluster north of the city, according to Bell.

    Of the fuel operation, Bell said that the company has contracts with several refiners for the new Fuelsource brand it sells. But, clearly, the motor fuel business is of secondary importance at The Market. "The profit margins are all in the store," Bell told CSNews.

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