FillinUp's Quality Statement (Slideshow)

New c-store brand brings healthful and local options to Chicago suburbs

Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Fuels, CSP

FillinUp convenience store
Photos by Samantha Oller

CAROL STREAM, Ill. -- On a busy street corner in the western suburbs of Chicago, a new convenience store brand has launched that aims to give customers a quality alternative. FillinUp, a new concept by RMarts LLC, a six-store chain based in Deerfield, Ill., makes a clean, hip statement in an area dominated by traditional minimarts.

“We were looking to do quality convenience,” Ryan Razowsky, vice president of RMarts, told CSP Daily News during a recent visit to the new site in Carol Stream, Ill. “By quality convenience, I mean a mix of healthy foods, items that are the bread and butter of convenience, and some unique local stuff that you can’t find anywhere else.”

It begins with the setting. With help from design firm Paragon Solutions, RMarts gutted and remodeled an old, 2,800-square-foot renovated Shell “two-tier” site, exposing and refinishing the tall wood ceiling, adding exposed brick accents, a stained concrete floor and calm, sage-green color scheme. Large, floor-to-ceiling windows across the front of the building hint at the site’s origins as a service station, with glass and steel replacing the old bay doors.

The name of the brand itself—FillinUp—is a nod to RMarts’ history. “I wanted to pay homage to the fact that our family has been doing this since the ’50s,” said Razowsky, who added that the name echoed that of firms such as Groupon. Lunar Media of Chicago designed the brand’s fun logo.

Inside the store, healthful foods make an immediate impression, with a curved, open-air cooler stocked with ready-to-drink teas from Argo Tea and Harney & Sons, coconut water and San Pellegrino flavored mineral waters. A display offers up a selection of KIND, Luna and Clif bars, as well as traditional brands, while the snacks section peppers in offerings such as Boulder Canyon rice and Adzuki bean chips, Stacy’s pita chips and Kashi hummus crisps among familiar salty-snack staples.

“I really wanted [you] to be able to walk in and find something healthy if that’s what you’re looking for, without alienating people who are looking for other stuff,” said Razowsky. “The first thing you see when you walk in is energy and protein bars, as opposed to candy, chips or sugary drinks.”

Even the roller grill features items with a differentiated flair, including Nathan’s hot dogs and chicken eggrolls. Burritos from Tres Picosos rounds out the foodservice offer. At the fountain, RMarts is changing out the frozen carbonated beverage lineup on a seasonal basis.

And a local touch is evident in the beer cooler door, where labels from Chicago’s own Revolution Brewing are joined by other craft offers from Bell’s Brewery and Rogue Ales.

One of RMarts’ goals with the new concept is to attract more millennials and female consumers. Social media marketing is centered around FillinUp’s Instagram account (@fillinup), which posts directly to its Facebook and Twitter accounts. Razowsky notes that millennials prefer Instagram to Facebook, considering it a more intimate and highly visual way to communicate.

There is plenty of opportunity for further development with the FillinUp brand. True to its love of local items, RMarts is looking for an area sandwich supplier to round out its foodservice offer. And the retailer plans to open the next FillinUp in Chicago, where it can reunite with Metropolis Coffee, a local coffee roaster that suppliers its other sites. (The Carol Stream location has a leased-out, drive-up Dunkin Donuts providing coffee).