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9 Questions About Huck's Latest C-Store Concept

New drive-thru design brings foodservice options together

The 43-year-old retail arm of Martin & Bayley Inc., Huck’s has grown to 118 stores across five states. Based in Carmi, Ill., the company recently opened its third Huck’s Food & Fuel location in Jeffersonville, Ind., featuring expanded foodservice, a drive-thru and an open invitation for guests to linger. CEO Todd Jenney talked to CSP about the company’s latest concept.

Q: Give us a brief history of how Huck’s came to be.

A: Bob Martin and Frank Bayley started their business in 1960 by opening Big John supermarkets in small Illinois towns. They eventually moved into Kentucky and Tennessee markets as well. In 1974, they opened their first convenience store in Grayville, Ill., and called it Huck’s. The company now operates convenience stores in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee. In 2001, the Martin and Bayley families sold the company to its employees, and it’s now 100% employee-owned.

Q: Huck’s locations are recognized for their Daybreak Cafe coffee program and Bigg Swigg fountain station. How does your latest design leverage your signature items?

A: Our 4,050-square-foot site expands on our core. We have 32 options on the fountain, 12 flavors of frozen and four flavors of shots. We also offer upscale coffee, cappuccino and espresso with all the fixings.

Q: Does your new location feature any new elements, such as changes to in-store offerings or store design and layout?

A: We feature an expanded, updated beverage selection. Our new Cafe Gourmet features an expanded line of fresh coffee products. We also have added an enlarged grab-and-go food offering and a drive-thru, where motorists can purchase virtually anything from the store. Our new location also includes Grillin’ Zone for our grilled offerings, including cheeseburgers, a line of fresh breakfast offerings and much more.

Q: You’ve been expanding into new markets, such as Bowling Green, Ky. What is your vision for that market?

A: Bowling Green was a good fit because we had one store that was performing well and it’s a great college town. We conduct site assessments and we prefer smaller markets with a need, such as Jeffersonville and Bowling Green.

Q: We’re seeing greater competition both within the c-store channel and across competing sectors. What distinguishes your newest Huck’s?

A: We believe we offer a wide array of amenities that will appeal to the customer who wants to grab and go, and also the person who wants to sit down and relax awhile. For those tight on time, we offer a drive-thru window; and for the customer eager to maximize his or her experience, our Bowling Green location includes seating, Cafe Gourmet, an expanded fresh premade food offering, a fresh bakery and food customization.

Q: Who are your core customers at the Jeffersonville location? Is your targeted customer here the same as the rest of your sites?

A: We go after the rooftops—the residential communities. So our store especially appeals to moms and dads.

Q: Does the company have a mission statement?

A: Yes, and it creates the acronym THANKS:

  • Total customer focus
  • Happy, friendly owners
  • Always fresh, quality food and drinks
  • No worries, quality fuels at competitive prices
  • Karing for Kids (the company’s charitable effort)
  • Squeaky-clean restrooms.

Q: What role does social media play with your retail locations? Do you offer a mobile app? And if so, how are you using it to entice more customers?

A: We offer a Huck’s mobile app that promotes daily specials, contests and events. When customers download the app, they automatically receive a free Bigg Swigg beverage. We also have specials such as a free 20-ounce bottled water with the purchase of coffee.

Q: What are the features in both the forecourt and backcourt that you’re most proud of?

A: Our Huck’s pizza, our famous fried chicken, our vast drink offerings and our Grillin’ Zone for breakfast.

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