Independently Speaking: Fast Eddy's Fast Evolution (Slideshow)
Idaho c-store chain banks on consistent improvement
Husband and wife convenience-store owners Steve and Tracie Eddy believe constant evolution is key in standing up to big-box competition. They constantly update and evaluate their three-store operation of Fast Eddy’s in Meridian, Idaho, in an attempt to keep it a place customers remember.
The Eddys bought their first c-store in Boise, Idaho, in 1990 and then built 14 more over the course of the next decade. Their business boomed, employing 350 people and opening three of the first cobranded Chevron McDonald’s locations in the country. But when an opportunity presented itself in 2003, the Eddys decided to sell it all. “We worked a lot and we just got tired,” Steve says. “We never really envisioned getting back into the c-store business.”
Yet they did just that in 2007, buying an unfinished c-store and transforming it into an instant success. “It was a rocket ship of a store,” Steve says. “Right from the start, our customers told us we were different from our competition.”
In 2011, they built a sister store from the ground up. The 6,700-square-foot store looks massive, even on the large 4-acre lot where it sits.
“We went out on a limb with the color scheme,” Steve says. “It’s copper-orange and brown. It’s a really different look.” The interior of the store has a homey feel to it. “We put in a floor most people would be happy to have in their kitchen, and we went over the top in the bathrooms. We put mosaic stone on the walls and interior lighting you’d see in your house rather than traditional commercial fixtures.”
They also made sure the store felt spacious and open. “Retailers used to be taught to put 10 pounds in a 5-pound bag,” Steve says. “But we do the opposite. We don’t plug our stores up.”
He also added a quick lube and carwash tunnel, and in 2012 he built a third store to match. The first location has since been remodeled, so now all three stores have a consistent look. They’re all Chevron-branded Fast Eddy’s, and they’re all worth remembering.
The car wash at the largest Fast Eddy’s location can accommodate 16 cars for full-service washes and detailing and has 23 vacuums out back. It has all McNeal equipment, including automated kiosks at all three lanes for customers who have purchased unlimited monthly wash plans and placed scannable microchips on their windshields.
Promotions keep customers coming back. Fast Eddy’s offers 5 to 20 cents off per gallon for car-wash purchases, and a free car wash with every lube. “The traditional lube is $24.95, and we give away a $15 car wash with it,” Steve says. “It’s a great deal.”
The lube center also sells and rotates tires, a nontraditional service for a lube. Between the car wash, the lube and the 16 fueling stations on site, there’s no shortage of cars on this lot.
CONTINUED: Growlers Galore