While Ray is no longer around, Ray’s Mini Mart still is. The Muskegon, Mich., c-store has been in business for 55 years. “I didn’t want to change the name,” says Jeff Daugherty, the third owner, who has had the store for the past 18 years.
Ray’s is a c-store and Sunoco station that serves as a one-stop shop for fishermen headed for Twin Lake, Muskegon Lake and White Lake, as well as Lake Michigan.
The store offers beer, wine and liquor, and it was the first in the state to install a growler station featuring Michigan craft beers. “It draws people not only from our neighborhood but from the region,” Daugherty says.
About 1,500 square feet of the 5,000-square-foot store is dedicated to bait and tackle, including minnows, rods, reels and licenses. “You need that secondary source of income to be more than a traditional mom and pop stop for a pop,” Daugherty says. Customers come in for bait and pick up ice, soda, beef jerky, doughnuts, snacks and coffee. Ray’s holds Free Coffee Monday “to start everybody’s week off on a good note,” he says.
“You need that secondary source of income to be more than a traditional mom and pop stop for a pop.”
“We donate prizes for schools and silent auctions,” he says of the store’s community engagement. “If they ask, we’re donating. We find that to be great word-of-mouth advertising.” The store sponsors salmon tournaments and donates the fish to food banks.
Daugherty has been in the c-store business for about 23 years. Before that, he was in financial services and estate planning, and was a community college director of admissions. As a 16-year-old, he worked in a grocery store. “It was always my dream to have my own little store,” he says. “The convenience-store market is strong, and it’s going to weather time—at least our location, in my opinion.”