AVON, N.Y. -- Founded in 1995 by Peter Bruckel, Quicklee’s has been slowly building its portfolio of 14 retail locations in the Rochester area of New York. This year, the company demolished its Avon, N.Y., store to make way for its first truckstop: Quicklee’s Travel Center, a 19,000-square-foot facility occupying nearly 10 acres. Vice President Ken Perelli spoke with CSP about the company’s latest concept.
Q: Quicklee’s is a relatively new player with only 22 years in retail operations. What is the company’s story?
A: In 1995, the first location opened in Avon, N.Y. The business grew slowly at first, as Peter was committed to his primary business as an industrial bridge painting contractor. After experiencing success with the first location, Peter opened a second store in 1998 in the neighboring town of Geneseo, N.Y. In 2002, the third location was built in Webster; in 2006, we added a fourth store in Henrietta.
These were all ground-up locations, and as an entrepreneur, Peter was not afraid to take risks. Before it was as popular as it is now, Peter was building larger convenience stores with QSRs and incorporating car washes into his sites. All four of the original sites currently have car washes and Dunkin’ Donuts (although some started with other fast-food offerings).
The company acquired three stores in 2010, and five more in 2013. Other existing sites were added in 2014 and 2016.
Today, the company continues to look for opportunity for growth through ground-ups and acquisitions.
Q: How does the new site differ from the rest of the chain's portfolio, and what inspired it?
A: The most obvious difference in the new location to the rest of the Quicklee’s network is the size. Its exterior and interior designs are enhanced versions of building construction that the chain has been using since 2014.
Quicklee’s has worked closely with D|Fab of Madison Heights, Mich., to design, fabricate and install a custom decor unique to the Quicklee’s brand. Our new travel center features a traditional convenience store, Dunkin’ Donuts, New York-style deli Calabresella, a food court with seating for 52 guests, a fireplace and sofa seating area with TV, laundromat, four private showers, multiple restrooms and a truck maintenance facility. It also has a proprietary grab-and-go foodservice area called Chill & Fill.
The layout of services was specifically designed to provide our variety of guests the retail space specific to their needs without closing them off to the other features of the site.
Taking it a step further, this site specifically addresses the evolution of the industry. Our focus remains on a fast and friendly shopping experience and transaction. However, in lieu of moving customers in and out of the store quickly, we provided space and an atmosphere that encourages our guests to stay a while—to make Quicklee’s their destination.
Q: What is the retail environment like in the markets you operate? What role does Quicklee’s play?
A: Several of the Quicklee’s locations are in rural communities lacking the retail and grocery establishments many in suburbs and cities are accustomed to. This has given Quicklee’s the opportunity to identify itself as the “one-stop shop” in their respective neighborhoods. We have a larger SKU offering in these stores than in the traditional c-store, and often we can replace a trip to a larger grocery or big-box retail store. This has given Quicklee’s the opportunity to become an active part of our communities, including schools and local organizations.
Q: We’ve seen more retailers offer free Wi-Fi, in-store seating and other incentives to attract millennials. How are you reaching out to your customer base?
A: Free Wi-Fi is available in all areas of the store, as well as in all parking areas. There is ample seating for dining and relaxation in the leather chairs surrounding the fireplace. We want our guests to be comfortable and enjoy the amenities.
Drivers parked overnight will stream movies and music in their cab. The dining and seating area are ideal for small business gatherings over lunch, using laptops or tablets to display presentations. Students meet to have coffee and complete school work alone or in groups. Travelers can search for directions or local attractions to visit. Strong, reliable internet service is critical to keeping our guests on-premise longer.
Q: Who are your core customers at the new location? Is that targeted customer the same as at the rest of your sites?
A: At the new travel center, the focus remains on the customer base it has been serving for the past 22 years: the local community. However, with the site sitting strategically on a major highway just a few miles from New York’s interstate, we are also attracting the professional driver. With limited truckstop locations in this area and tightening regulations of that industry, the Quicklee’s Travel Center was designed specifically to meet the growing demands of the professional driver.