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TONAWANDA, N.Y. -- Changes are underway at NOCO Energy Corp.'s convenience store chain -- NOCO Express stores -- with an aim toward integrating the sections of the store into one.
The new features on the drawing board include Wi-Fi service and seating areas that encourage customers to stay longer than the few minutes an average c-store transaction takes. The company has also expanded its foodservice offerings -- adding Charlie the Butcher, Mighty Taco and Tim Hortons -- to some of its locations, according to The Buffalo News.
According to Paul Wydro, who oversees the NOCO Express stores, the company wanted its convenience stores to "flow a little better." Specifically, he told the newspaper that in some of its designs, restaurant customers and convenience store customers were separate. The new format, he added, helps "get the cross shopping going and has actually increased the sales because of it."
The new store format features a reconfigured checkout area - more semi-circle as opposed to a "Y" shape, and a combined c-store/quick-serve restaurant (QSR) area. "So the flow from the hot food, quick-serve restaurant to the soda cooler is together, not separate," Wydro said.
In only a handful of stores now, NOCO plans to roll out the design to new stores as well as some older locations that are undergoing remodeling.
The changes have brought about some positive changes already. According to Wydro, QSRs help the gross profitability of the store. The higher-grossing, high consumable products on the convenience store supplement that profitability, he told the newspaper.
"It's a combination of both that's really going to help us grow, not one or the other. And I think the old design, with that Y-shape, eliminated the opportunity to sell more product," he explained.
NOCO is looking to bring its c-store/gas station chain beyond its current markets and into the Rochester, N.Y., area. It opened two stores in the Rochester market this past year and plans to open a few more in the years to come, according to Wydro.
"What we're hopefully able to do is keep spreading the name of NOCO. We have a natural gas and electric division that has expanded into the Rochester area. Our stores are really our billboards. We can help promote that portion of our business through our stores," he said.
NOCO Express is a family-owned and -operated c-store chain with 34 locations throughout Buffalo and Rochester.