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NORMAN, Okla. — Many convenience stores today have added a drive-thru option for customers in an effort to become even more convenient, but what about a store that is a drive-thru and nothing more? That is the concept behind The Cube.
The 2,500-square-foot store opened Dec. 6 in Norman, Okla., and rather than call it a convenience store, the owners have dubbed it a “neighborhood concierge.”
“We looked at c-stores that offer a drive-thru and many seemed inconvenient,” Jake Sharp, one of the owners of The Cube, told CSNews Online. “Often the same person working inside the store is also working the drive-thru, and that isn’t offering good customer service inside or outside. Also, the few that offered the option were limited in terms of products you could get through the drive-thru.”
At The Cube, customers can pull up to the window and get a white mocha latte, fresh-squeezed lemonade, a French toast breakfast sandwich, a turkey BLT wrap for lunch, diapers for their child and cat food for their pet without ever getting out of the car.
If stopping on the way home from work, they can pick up a fresh pizza for dinner, stock up on eggs, bread and deodorant, and be on their way. Products available include a variety of fresh foods, health and beauty care, household products, cold and flu medicine, vitamins, gum, candy, chips, coffee, cold beverages and fountain drinks.
The idea sparked when Sharp, who opened two drive-thru tobacco shops five years ago, began adding convenience items to the mix as his shops were seeing between 800 and 1,000 people per day. The shops added fountain drinks, coffee, beer, chips and snacks, and the demand continued to grow with customers asking them to stock more products.
“We started as just tobacco and saw the customer base changing and wanting more convenience items,” he explained. “Then, we had beer companies telling us how much of the beer business we were taking over compared to convenience stores in the area.”
Sharp decided to partner with Joe Lawrence, now CEO, and another owner to “reinvent convenience” and create a new drive-thru concept with The Cube, which is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Customers can pull up to any one of The Cube’s four windows and order what they need, or they can place an order ahead of time via the company’s website or app and just drive up to the front door and have someone bring their order to their car.
“Our technology is proprietary and we have perpetual inventory, so someone won’t order something that is out of stock,” Sharp said. “We want to incorporate RFID technology next where we will give customers a tag to put into their car so we will know when they are outside, and we can bring their order right to the car when they pull up. It will also help us track what you buy, so if you want your usual — maybe a mocha and a breakfast parfait — we can see you four cars back and have it ready for you.”
The first store in Norman will serve as the company’s prototype, and the owners have a plan in place to open 25 more stores in Oklahoma.
For more on The Cube, including its focus on upscale coffee and fresh-food offerings, look in the February issue of Convenience Store News.