NASHVILLE -- RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. will make a “decisive move” into the Nashville market next year, Billy Milam, president of the Atlanta-based convenience-store chain, told CSP Daily News.
The expansion marks the chain’s first move into a new market in more than 15 years. RaceTrac executives announced earlier this year the retailer’s intent to open 30 or more stores in the Music City market in the next five years. The company is now expanding that planned Tennessee presence by more than 65%, according to Milam. “We believe we’ll have 50 stores in Tennessee over the next five years,” he said.
RaceTrac has been “very interested” in the Nashville market for a long time, he said. “Nashville is a great market,” he said. “Vibrant. Good country music.”
'Boots on the Ground'
The city “is undergoing a true transformation with an influx of new residents and businesses that provide a foundation for continued growth,” Milam said. “We believe the city’s young, vibrant population, along with the growth in commuting and mobile workplaces, is a natural fit for RaceTrac.”
The closest RaceTrac to the Nashville market is just south of Chattanooga, about a 130-mile drive, he said. “With Nashville being more or less in our backyard, we felt like it was a good opportunity to connect the dots with our Atlanta market, going up through the Chattanooga market all the way to Nashville. I could be to the south side of Nashville in three hours if I left here in my car from our support center in Atlanta. It’s a relatively close market in proximity, and so it’s something that we thought made quite a bit of sense for us.”
Last summer, RaceTrac began performing analytical reviews of the market, looking at growth patterns and population density, among other factors.
“We had our entire real-estate team spend time in the market with boots on the ground,” Milam said. “We know what the data tells us now. We have quite a few sites in the pipeline right now. The first stores will open late next year or early 2020.”
History in Nashville
RaceTrac has actually had a presence in Nashville “for decades,” said Milam. “We’ve had RaceTrac stores there in the past.” A couple of those stores are now part of the company's RaceWay franchise-operated brand. The company has 250 RaceWay locations.
The Nashville c-stores will be new builds featuring RaceTrac’s latest prototype, what it calls the “5.5.” The company stopped building its RT6K prototype store in 2016, Milam said. The 5.5 is an enhanced version of what the chain was building before the RT6K. “It’s largely the same core store we built from 2012 to 2016, with some operational and brand enhancements. They are 5,500 square feet, as the name implies.”
Along with fuel and merchandise, the c-stores will offer Music City residents a variety of food and beverage options, including sandwiches, salads and fruit. They will feature Swirl World frozen treat stations and fresh-brewed Crazy Good Coffee. And they will offer indoor and outdoor seating and free Wi-Fi.
More Company Growth
RaceTrac will continue to expand in its current markets as well, he said. RaceTrac is now building its 500th c-store chainwide and its 100th in the Atlanta market, where it is based.
The company has also just rolled out Wintastic Rewards, a new, limited-time instant-win game through the RaceTrac Rewards app. Prizes include free roller-grill items, pizza, breakfast sandwiches, Swirl World cake cones, bottled beverages and more.
The family-owned chain has been serving customers since 1934 and now operates nearly 500 locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. It ranked No. 17 in CSP’s 2018 Top 202 list of U.S. c-store chains ranked by number of company-owned retail outlets.