General Merchandise/HBC

Last Words: Pandemic Relief

What products kept category managers sane during an unprecedented year?
chocolate, coffee and wine
Photograph: Shutterstock

CHICAGO  CSP asked this year’s Category Manager of the Year finalists what products helped them through the pandemic. Here’s what some of these c-store insiders shared:   

“Caffeine and patience were the two fuels that got me through the pandemic. Demand for both was way up over last year trying to play the roles of both schoolteacher to my first grader and also fuel pricing director at Sheetz.”

Brian Renaud, director of retail fuel pricing and analytics, Sheetz

“The Reese’s Smoothie and the Mac & Cheese Bowl!”

Eric Rush, digital marketing and advertising manager, QuickChek Corp.


Chuck Sanders, category manager for packaged beverages, Cal’s Convenience

“I would have to say a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon with my fiance in the evenings.”

Sean Hickox, former category manager for beer and wine, Circle K-South Atlantic

“I’m a big seltzer and red wine drinker so there has been a good supply of both in my household through the pandemic.”

Kim Jenks, category manager, Kwik Trip

“Lots and lots of coffee!”

Michelle Cram, senior platform manager for hot beverages, 7-Eleven

“I am enjoying specifically the wine-can trend; never thought I would waiver from the traditional bottle, but there are some good-quality wines in cans and so convenient.”

Connie Kelehan, senior category manager for fountain beverages, Kum & Go

“Half-sweet and half-unsweetened iced tea.”

Jessica Tritten, category manager, Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores

“It’s been our fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. I get the craving and gotta have some.”

Justin Hill, foodservice category manager, BP/ampm.

“My go-to is a slice of our bacon breakfast pizza or one of our iced sugar cookies that we bake in stores.”

Andrew Kintigh, category manager for food and beverage, Casey’s General Stores

“Gas and lotto scratchers are probably the only thing I bought!”

Marissa Tinoco, buyer and contracting officer for c-store foodservice, Army & Air Force Exchange Service

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