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WAXHAW, N.C. -- Olin Furr and his wife, Amy, are not strangers to the convenience store business. They have operated as BP jobbers for more than 20 years at Monroe Oil Co. in Monroe, N.C., and actually bought the company from its original owners seven years ago. Monroe operates a few c-stores, including a truck stop, but none of them ever had their own brand identity -- until the creation of its new Fill Good store.
"We wanted to break out and do something different," Olin Furr told Convenience Store News.
The owners purchased land in Waxhaw, N.C., and built a new 3,400-square-foot location from the ground up, which includes a car wash and a 1,400-square-foot restaurant leased to Rock Store Bar-B-Q. Additionally, the new store is in an upscale neighborhood and the design reflects that, he noted.
The Furrs hired a local designer to create a new name, logo and design for the Waxhaw location, and chose Gay McGee Diller of Gay Diller Designs, who also worked with the general contractor, Cummings Construction Corp. of Matthews, N.C., and Diversified Signs and Graphics of York, S.C.
"I presented concepts and helped with material suggestions," Diller said.
To come up with the perfect name, she sat down with the owners to brainstorm, writing down words that reflected the message they wanted to communicate. "I wanted to tie it into a gas station, and Fill Good popped into my mind," she recalled.
The interior is based on a retro theme, so the logo, which eventually became the store's mascot, features a smiling gas pump with the tagline, "It's all right here," based on the look of an old gas pump.
"I thought it would be a good idea to create a smiling, friendly character to offer a message about good service," Diller explained.
When she showed the Furrs her sketches of a retro gas pump, they took her in the back of the store where Olin had a collection of old gas pumps that he collected and refurbished.
"I decided to take one and had a decal of a face put on it to match the logo," he said. "We put it out in the front of the store as the mascot."
From the old-fashioned pump on the logo to the hand-painted mural of a blue sky on the interior walls, the overall feel of Fill Good is a modern take on the retro gas stations of the 40s and 50s, Diller said.
The exterior had to follow the strict codes and ordinances of the town's zoning department, which suggested the brick and other materials used on the building in order to maintain the historic, old-town feel of Waxhaw, N.C. Knowing this, Diller carried that theme inside.
"The color palate is reminiscent of the 40s and 50s. I used the hand-painted blue sky and chose blue and red because I wanted it to be friendly and happy," she said. "Also, when I think of the old cars like Thunderbirds and Mustangs, I think of candy-apple red or turquoise colors."
The entire floor, including inside the restroom, is 18-inch ceramic tile, and the team incorporated a mix of unique finishes into the interior design, including mosaic tile for the beverage fountain area, as well as around the right and left side of the door, which people see when walking out. While exposed nuts and bolts offer a more rustic feel, modern and sleek finishes are also found throughout.
"Some of the interior signs are illuminated because we wanted to provide more of an impact in certain areas," Diller said. "Everything is three-dimensional. One of the signs hangs over the coffee area, and is the first thing people see when they enter."
Looking at overall sales, tobacco is king at Fill Good, followed by packaged beverages, fountain and then foodservice. The store, which is managed by the owner's daughter, Paige Furr, features eight flavors at its fountain, as well as fresh-brewed tea. The coffee island is 18-feet long, with signage placed to lure customers over to the foodservice area.
"We have a Noble Roman's pizza program with pizza pre-made in boxes that people can take home and bake themselves, and also offer fresh salads, cheese, yogurt and fruit in an open-air display," Olin Furr said.
Fill Good offers breakfast and lunch, including breakfast burritos, sausage biscuits, chicken wraps, breadsticks, and what is known as a cinnamon pizza. "It is like a cinnamon biscuit, but we use it as pizza crust," he said. "We can make a pizza in about three and a half minutes, and will customize it to order."
The location also specializes in ice, offering 20-pound bags for only $1, which Olin Furr explained helps to draw people into the store to buy other items. And while the store offers a good wine selection -- with a full cooler door of white wine -- its 9-foot-by 13-foot beer cave is the real attraction. Designed to look like a vault, it features a faux vault-door design on the side of the actual entrance to the cave. The store sells domestic, as well as microbrew and imported options.
The Fill Good store opened July 1 and the company plans to revamp other locations to reflect the new brand. "Quik Trip is going to build 50 stores around here, so we are going to have to step everything up," Olin Furr said.
To go inside Monroe Oil's Fill Good store, view the Photo Gallery by clicking here.