1. The Guess Corp.
You read about this story in our list of the biggest convenience-store industry stories of the year, and it's definitely worth repeating here. The Guess Corp. was fishy from the start. It presented itself as a multitiered business playing in yachts, lumber, chocolates, diamonds and much more, yet its executive staff showed little experience in the industries they allegedly led.
As the company set its sights on the convenience-store industry, promising 1,000 stores within a year, it took email, phone calls, legal and court document reviews, and finally knocking on doors to uncover the truth: The company was little more than an ex-convict searching for his next prey and conning his eager-to-please employees along the way by plying them with six-figure salaries—salaries that were never paid.
Five days after CSP Daily News published a revealing expose, that ex-con was back in jail.
2. Trump + c-store = awkward
Donald Trump made a lot of headlines in 2016, including Time magazine's Person of the Year. And two run-ins with major convenience-stores led to awkward moments.
First in April, presidential candidate Trump mistakenly referred to the date of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center as “7-Eleven,” rather than 9/11, sparking a social media buzz questioning the well-intentioned comment in video, text and photos. This included a tweet from actress Salma Hayek who commented, "I am a dyslexic Mexican and English is my second language, however even I can not confuse 7/11 with 9/11."
Then, just days before the election, Trump visited a Wawa convenience store in Pennsylvania, where the nominee wandered the store and posed for pictures with customers.
For customer Tom Kohler, things got weird when Trump took a photo with him.
Kohler is clearly not pleased with his proximity to the GOP nominee, and he has good reason. Kohler is the chair of the Upper Merion Area Democratic Committee, and a legislative aide to Democratic State House Rep. Tim Briggs.
3. Let them eat crickets
Is the protein trend so large that Americans are ready to eat crickets? PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi said in October that we're getting close.
"Bug-related stuff is big," she said during a conference with investors, noting the cheap source of protein could go mainstream over the next decade.
"[Experts] said the hottest thing is eating crickets ... in chips," Nooyi said.
But don't take that to mean the snack and beverage executive will be the first one in line to sample cricket chips: "I am a vegetarian; I am not eating any cricket chips. But they said if you want a high-protein source, there is a series of products being launched with crickets."
4. Puffing its chest
Philadelphia-based on-demand-delivery service GoBrands Inc. threw down the competitive gauntlet in June, taking aim squarely at the convenience channel.
“Goodbye convenience store. Hello goPuff.” That’s the tagline of the company's 24-hour, on-demand delivery service, which also calls itself “convenience on wheels.”
The service offers delivery of products ranging from college essentials, party supplies and smoking accessories to snacks, frozen foods and household essentials. Also available are beer, wine, energy drinks and electronic cigarettes, among other popular convenience-store merchandise.
5. Raze and rebuild
In January, the long-running TV show “The Simpsons” took yet another swing at the convenience-store industry, this time targeting one of our favorite tropes: the next-generation c-store.
In this case, the local convenience store—the Kwik-E-Mart—burned to the ground, and second-generation co-owner Jamshed/Jay (nephew of long-suffering proprietor Apu Nahasapeemapetilon) has rebuilt it, or rather "b****-slapped your Kwik-E-Mart into the 21st century."
The new store is a thinly veiled swipe at the recently bankrupt Fresh & Easy chain, which closed all its stores late last year.
Click here for a summary of choice dialogue and to watch the episode.
7. Mixing business and religion
The story of convenience stores’ move to larger footprints and ownership by chains has been told many times and in many ways, but perhaps never as told in a new children’s book by a first-time author released this fall.
"Fill-Up the Gas Pump" tells the story of a friendly fuel pump (Fill-Up) who, along with the small mom-and-pop gas station (McFriendly’s) he fronts, is about to be outmoded by a “20-pump gas station and superdeluxe mini-mart” being built just down the street.
“What will happen if people stop coming to visit us?” Fill-Up asks himself.
Get the answers in "Fill-Up the Gas Pump," available on Amazon.