General Merchandise/HBC

Texas Two-Step

Valero adds to entertainment bill with proprietary line of CDs

SAN ANTONIO -- Valero Energy Corp. is showing its Texas roots with one of its new product innovations. The company's three-month-old proprietary CD music line has a decidedly Lone Star State flair that takes advantage of the variety of ways and places consumers are now willing to purchase music.

We saw it as a convenience item, Geoff DeCastro, senior category manager for San Antonio-based Valero, told CSP Daily News. People are buying music in nontraditional ways, [whether it's online or at Starbucks]. So we started looking at how customer impulse-buy [image-nocss] music.

The chain initially introduced three CDs in August and is now rolling out one new title a month. So far, in nearly 600 of its Texas stores, Valero has rolled out the line of Texas Loves CDs, featuring songs from a variety of the Lone Star State's favorite Tejano, blues, Reggae/Latino and country music artists. Selling for $9.99 each, the collection includes:

Texas Loves Its Blues, featuring artists Albert Collins and Lightning Hopkins. Texas Loves Its Tejano Music, with songs by Ram Herrera and Elida Reyna. Texas Loves Its New Country Music, with Charlie Robison and Jack Ingram. Drivin' TexasGreat Songs for the Road, with songs by Robert Earl Keen and Jerry Jeff Walker. Chosen FewEl Documental, a two-CD set featuring artists Don Omar and N.O.R.E.

All of the CDs were made exclusively for Valero through a partnership with New York City-based Urban Box Office.

DeCastro said the most pleasing surprise so far was how well the Tejano CD was received. We wanted to appeal to our Hispanic customers, and we thought music would be a good way to do that, he said. Of the four releases that we introduced [by the end of September], we were selling 50-50 in terms of units between the Tejano title and all others [combined].

Hoping to build on that, next week the company will add two holiday CDs priced at $7.99 each: A Texas Christmas and A Tejano Christmas. The Texas Christmas CD will feature an exclusive new recording of Let it Snow, Let it Snow by Asleep at the Wheel. And, now through the holidays, customers will receive the Texas Loves its Rising Stars CD, featuring such artists as Guy Forsyth and the Eli Young Band, free with the purchase of any CD.

Especially with the holidays right around the corner, we're excited about offering this special line of CDs to our customers, said Gary Arthur, senior vice president of retail and specialty products marketing at Valero. These products are not only unique to our stores, they're also priced competitively. And, since music CDs are such popular gift items, we're confident that our customers will appreciate the convenience of purchasing them in a Valero or Diamond Shamrock Corner Store.

The CDs are delivered to the stores by the company's retail distribution center in San Antonio, which has helped drive down the costs of the product.

The CD program is part of a growing line of entertainment products offered by Valero. About 350 of the company's larger stores throughout its retail network now carry a variety of popular PlayStation 2 and Xbox video games. Customers can also choose from a selection of previously viewed movies and new releases. This month, stores will offer several blockbusters, including Star Wars: Episode III, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and War of the Worlds.

The video games and new movies are priced at $19.99, and previously viewed movies are $12.99. During a special promotion beginning today, customers can purchase two previously viewed movies for $20. We've priced them so they'll go head-to-head against everyone else, said Arthur. And, they're quick and easy to purchase, which is important to our customers especially during the holidays.

Valero Energy has more than 4,700 retail and branded wholesale outlets in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean under various brand names, including Valero, Diamond Shamrock, Shamrock, Ultramar and Beacon.

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