Circle K, Sheetz, and Wawa. These are three examples of regional and national convenience store chains that expanded their businesses a hundredfold. They didn’t do it through the introduction of a new product or deep discounts. It was done by adding something to the outside of their stores – gas pumps.
The Gas Station Hybrid
Like a Super Wal-Mart or Target, companies took two important items and combined them into one unit. So, instead of getting a hoagie at Wawa then driving down the street to get gas, they decided it was a better idea for consumers to make all the purchases in one location.
In some cases, these companies used gas station construction organizations like Fastech to add pumps to existing infrastructure. In other situations, they decided to start from scratch. In either case, the results were profitable.
Not an Original Idea
The gas station/convenience store hybrid is not a new one. Truck stops had the monopoly on it for decades. Not only could truck drivers and regular travelers get gas they could also stop at a restaurant for something to eat or get a car wash.
In a similar vein, rest stops along major interstates provided the same features. For instance, locations along the New Jersey & Pennsylvania Turnpikes feature gas stations, chain restaurants, and convenience stores. Companies like Wawa and Sheetz took those concepts and condensed them to fit into neighborhoods or local highways.
The future looks pretty bright for these companies. As they continue to increase their presence across the country, more convenience store chains may decide to incorporate gas pumps. Or, they may join with existing fuel companies. Today, many 7-11 locations in the West have joined with Conoco to sell gas.
And, as we move toward alternative fuels, some of those gas pumps could be converted to electrical chargers. As they power up, drivers, or passengers of self-driving cars, may be able to sit in a convenience store cafe while they wait. Overall, the sky’s the limit when it comes to expanding convenience stores.