CHICAGO -- Among the sessions and exhibits, ideas run rampant at the NACS Show. And the Ideas 2 Go program is no exception.
Since 1994, Ideas 2 Go has featured hundreds of retailers from almost all 50 states and nearly a dozen countries. It showcases best practices and emerging concepts that redefine convenience.
This year’s program offered ideas for getting the most out of the kitchen, embracing technology, being a centerpiece of the community and more. Here are six concepts that caught CSP's eye from this year’s presentation in Chicago ...
Lone Oak Store LLC
At Tony Donatell’s convenience store in Eagan, Minn., one centralized kitchen makes the food for three different concepts: Farmer’s Grandson Eatery, which offers breakfast, burgers, salads and sandwiches; Burgers and Bottles, which serves local craft beer in addition to burgers; and the Volstead House Whiskey Bar and Speakeasy, a hideaway with small plates and cocktails. Donatell doesn’t advertise the speakeasy; instead, customers must learn about it through word of mouth, and they enter through a red door found in Burgers and Bottles.
Street Corner, operated by Topeka, Kan.-based McColla Enterprises, is ahead of the self-checkout game. The Street Corner in Chattanooga, Tenn., is on the ground floor of an apartment building, and occupants can safely and securely purchase everyday essentials even when the store is closed. They gain access to the store via a thumbprint reader and then scan and pay for their items with self-checkout.
GetGo Cafe + Market
The GetGo Cafe + Market in Verona, Pa., ensures everyone has access to freshly made food by operating a 24-hour kitchen. The late-night hours are especially beneficial to third-shift workers, such as nurses and factory workers, said Polly Flinn, senior vice president and general manager. GetGo is operated by Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle.
Aw Shucks Country Store
Aw Shucks Country Store in Glen Allen, Va., is a gathering place for the community. In addition to c-store staples and a foodservice offer that includes pizza, breakfast and barbecue, Aw Shucks is host to farmers markets, yard sales, antique car shows, live music and more. “If you don’t do something out of the box, I don’t think you will survive,” said Managing Partner Duncan Van Ness.
Rutter's Farm Stores
York, Pa.-based Rutter’s Farm Stores has an expansive foodservice offering that includes stir-fry and seafood—items not typically found in a c-store. And soon, customers may be able to order those items while they fill up. The retailer is preparing to roll out touchscreens at the pump that will allow consumers to order food in addition to other products. “It’s a new world for us, and that’s going to be happening this year,” said Scott Hartman, president and CEO of Rutter’s.
Green Zebra Grocery
Founder and CEO Lisa Sedlar said Green Zebra Grocery is a “mashup between Whole Foods & 7-Eleven.” Located in Portland, Ore., this retailer emphasizes fresh and local. Pastries are delivered daily from local bakeries, and the beer and cider are from Oregon brewers. “We carry a lot of local products so we can support our local economy,” Sedlar said. It even offers discounts for customers who bring their own bags (5 cents) and walk or ride a bike (10 cents).