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CSP Magazine

Grand Opening: A New Kind of 7-Eleven (Slideshow)

Alon Brands' latest convenience store aims for edgy, open and fun

There are plenty of fun things to do in Albuquerque, N.M. And now you can add visiting the new Alon Brands 7-Eleven to that list.

With nearly 300 convenience stores in central and West Texas and New Mexico, we are the largest domestic 7-Eleven licensee in the country. While we enjoy a formidable presence in the aforementioned markets, we also see a convenience world that is rapidly changing.

Our latest store, a 4,503-square-foot facility, is unique and takes us not only outside the norm of 7-Eleven locations but also outside of the industry norm.

To arrive at this model in Rio Rancho, N.M., we worked closely with Jason Michael and Bruce McGovert of Advancement Branding. The result is an inviting, modern design that meets the needs of the high-density Rio Rancho populace.

Our legacy network features sites that typically are 2,400 square feet. More recently, we launched a larger format running 3,500 square feet, but despite the nearly 50% increase in square footage, it did not provide us sufficient capacity for rolling out a customized foodservice area with in-store seating.

Therefore, we embarked on a larger floor plan. Alon executives and the Advancement Branding team undertook an exhaustive process to determine what kind of statement we wanted to make with this site. We settled on a “playful” theme that would be a radical change from anything we saw being built in the marketplace. We wanted to be provocative and create an entertaining aspect that would drive repeat business and create a hubbub in the community. Status quo was the safe choice, but it wasn’t the correct one.

In the Zones

Our concept is anchored in destination zones, accented by bold colors, catchy graphics and custom signage. The foodservice and wine areas are set apart with floor tiles different from those in the center store. And there is a drive aisle straight to the full-service food offerings.

It is no secret that foodservice—notably fresh and customized—is rapidly becoming an industry necessity if we are to grow and remain relevant. Toward that end, we have created customized zones that play to customers’ desire to quench their thirst for hot or cold beverages, and also cater to their desire for indulgence.

Consider:

eXpresso: Our barista features customized, made-to-order espresso, cappuccino, lattes and fresh fruit smoothies. This is our first foray into expanded full-service food and beverage, and we will carefully evaluate this new destination and its market-basket potential. To augment our MTO drinks, we have positioned it adjacent to our “bakery” of fresh-baked goods and pastries, as well as hot sandwiches. Exclusive to this store, we will introduce cappuccino in an edible cup.

Slurp It, Gulp It, Tea It Up: What else would you expect from a 7-Eleven other than 24 heads of your favorite fountain drinks, six varieties of Slurpee (including our new summer flavor, Lemon Ice) and freshly brewed Lipton Iced Tea? From a small (16-ounce) to the thirst-busting Double Gulp (64-ounce), there is a cup to meet everyone’s needs.

The Grape Escape: More than 225 bottles are displayed in a wooden floor-to-ceiling wine rack. Built into the wall are two mini-refrigerators carrying all your favorite chilled white wines. There are more choices and more price points—more than enough for the discerning wine drinker. Employing a rock wall and a wooden rack, we saw an opportunity to invoke the idea of an old-fashioned wine cellar. The Rio Rancho area was underserviced in quality wines, and our range is extensive, from the value-priced Yosemite Road to some of the best California varietals.

Be Hoppy: Our 28-degree chilled self-serve beer cooler is replete with popular national brands and local craft selections.

Chill: An 11-door cooler and a 6-foot back-filled open-air dairy case round out our beverage selections, including our new proprietary water, Adva by Alon.

Indulge: How many retailers feature their own proprietary ice cream? We love ice cream and are giving marquee treatment to 7-Select’s new Premium Ice Cream pints and the value-priced 7-Select line.

At Your Service: Our checkout backbar displays 12 feet of cigarettes, OTP and a diverse array of e-cigarettes and vaping products. Because the store has a full liquor license, we carry an extensive selection of spirits in large bottles and miniatures housed in a sleek, ultra-modern illuminated glass fixture. The front counter features a built-in open-air cooler for last-minute drink temptations and a full array of confections.

Adding Fun

Our latest store targets a different kind of customer than that of most convenience stores. Ours is an affluent neighborhood that is also bustling with commuters heading into Albuquerque and medical personnel from a nearby hospital. To meet the needs of a diverse consumer base, every zone offers a blend of high-quality private-label products and premium brands.

As much as our store focuses on products, we’re equally concerned about the customer experience and creating a pleasing aesthetic. When you walk in, look up: You’ll find a panoramic ellipse that encircles the 22-foot ceiling. The open-grid work and Big Ass Fan—which is 16 feet in diameter—add to the spacious and inviting feel.

At Alon, we have long embraced a philosophy of “Fresh-Fast-Friendly” across our existing network. We have succeeded, as evidenced by our high CleanTeam scores. (CleanTeam is a quarterly inspection by a third party that evaluates stores on customer service and cleanliness). What we wanted to add here is a fourth dimension: fun. This store brings it all together.

Outside, the impressive canopy and forecourt features 16 fueling positions and Alon Brands’ first site with E85. Guests can enjoy their favorite fresh sandwich and dispensed drink at the outdoor patio adjacent to the store.

But it’s inside where most of the action is. We believe the playful tone creates a buzz in the marketplace. We truly expect this to be a destination and the template for future new builds. Concurrently, Alon Brands is remodeling its other 23 stores in Albuquerque using design elements from this store.

We expect our guests will find this location modern, edgy and colorful, inviting and innovative, with a great blend of trusted brands and a robust private-label selection they can purchase only at Alon.

In a city known for its Balloon Festival, Alon Brands has soared to new heights.

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