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    Southeast Petro-Food Expo Kicks Off

    Organizers impressed with show attendance in Charlotte, N.C.

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jim Crump was hoping attendance at this year's Southeast Petro-Food Marketing Exposition would be up. But even he was impressed with yesterday's turnout.

    More than 2,000 retailers representing some 500 large and small retail companies gathered in Charlotte for the 21st annual Southeast Petro Food Expo. This year's "Really Big Expo," which also features more than 400 supplier booths, is sponsored by the North Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association, the South Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association, the North Carolina Association of Convenience Stores (NCACS) and the South Carolina Association of Convenience Stores (SCACS).

    "We are really pleased with the turnout, especially with the number of retailers," Crump, who also serves on the board of NCACS, told CSNews Online.

    Among the issues retailers are talking about on the trade show floor are unemployment, tobacco, lottery sales and below-cost legislation.

    "Hypermarkets are a way of life now in the Southeast," said Anthony Lauro, Southeast regional zone manager of branded wholesale marketing for El Paso Energy, which operates 200 Coastal Convenience Stores. "At first the industry was looking at ways to prevent hypermarket growth. Now we have to develop a strategy to compete against them."

    In South Carolina, retailers are reporting success with the recent launch of the state's lottery, said Bob Hardee, a regional manager for Speedway SuperAmerica and SCACS board member. "The scratch-off lottery tickets have exceeded our sales predictions, but the Pick 3 game has been sluggish," he said. "Overall, lottery sales have helped boost inside sales and drive volume so most people have been very pleased."

    Speedway SuperAmerica operates 89 stores in the Southeast region.

    In other news at the show, Keith Ballentine, president of Rocky Mount, N.C.-Daughtridge Enterprises, was named president of the North Carolina Association of Convenience Stores succeeding Haddon Clark of United Energy, Raleigh, N.C.

    The trade show continues today at the Charlotte Convention Center.

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