SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Circle K has opened the doors of its most ambitious North American retail store yet. The site is twice the average size and is located in the richly competitive market of Savannah, Ga. Mark Ostoits, vice president of the retailer’s 481-store Southeast business unit, recently shared insights into Circle K’s latest endeavor.
Q: At 8,500 square feet, this Savannah store is the largest Circle K store in North America. What was behind the decision to ramp up your store size so significantly, and why in Savannah?
A: This site was selected due to its proximity to the port of Savannah, where thousands of trucks daily deliver or receive cargo. We knew this was going to be an exceptional site. The seven-lane diesel offering provides truckers with ample space for easy in-and-out access. It provides us an opportunity to expand our portfolio of travel centers and full-service food offerings.
This special site offers many of our fundamental category initiatives such as fuel, cold dispensed, hot dispensed and freshly prepared food on-site. The made-to-go offer has a strong foundation, and we look forward to many customers continuing to enjoy our fresh pizzas, burritos and hamburgers, along with fresh salads and wraps for the calorie-conscious consumer.
What makes this site unique is it is positioned to be one of the largest and busiest sites in our global footprint. The store is designed to cater to a diverse clientele, including long-haul drivers, neighborhood locals, tourists visiting the historical city of Savannah and hard-working daily commuters.
Q: How many locations do you have in the Savannah area, and how will this location help you in such a competitive market?
A: We have 32 sites operating within the Savannah/Hilton Head market, positioned in our Southeast division. The new offerings at our Savannah truckstop embrace our evolving core platforms, which are part of our new Circle K brand promise. By offering a wider range of food and convenience items, Circle K branded fuel, special amenities for our truck-driving population, and regional offerings specifically catering to the Savannah market, we are well-positioned to open more stores in the region. And, thanks to our amazingly loyal customers, this site has exceeded our expectations and positioned us for future growth in the Southeast division.
Q: Circle K is making a big push in the hot and cold beverage market. How is that playing out inside the store via your Simply Great Coffee and Polar Pop programs?
A: The Polar Pop and Simply Great Coffee platforms are core parts of our new Circle K brand promise. We strive to provide our customers with a large variety of high-quality hot and cold beverage offers adjusted for each market based on local needs. Polar Pop has been a Circle K staple for some time and is essential to our brand. At this location, we have 36 fountain heads and, to meet our customers’ developing tastes, we have many noncarbonated choices such as teas and vitamin waters and, of course, Cheerwine, a local favorite.
Simply Great Coffee is our award-winning proprietary espresso-based coffee offering. Our visitors can customize their coffee choice without the wait or high prices of many coffee locations. We also offer a wide variety of syrups and coffee condiments.
We see these categories as long-term cornerstones that our customers can count on, and we will continue to expand these unique offerings to more locations across our growing Circle K network.
Q: Is this store’s freshly prepared food program a prototype for Circle K?
A: The fresh, prepared-on-site food program is of high interest for us, but it’s still fairly new for Circle K. We are continually pushing the learning and development across the organization from a global and local level. At this location, we offer many freshly prepared items, including whole and slice pizza and regionally popular biscuits throughout the day and night. In the morning, we offer burritos; for the lunchtime crowd, we have hot sandwiches such as pulled pork and chicken. Our hamburgers are 100% Angus beef and are hugely popular, especially the double cheeseburger.
One of the exciting features is touchscreen ordering, where our customers can drill deep to customize their order and find nutritional information at each step. We will continue to learn and adapt how best to provide our customers with the right offers and make Circle K a more robust destination for foodservice.
Q: This store features 29 fuel stations, including diesel and Circle K branded fuel. How does this reflect the company’s fuel strategy, as well as the needs of the local community?
A: On the forecourt, we offer Circle K-branded fuel, both diesel and non-ethanol gasoline, which are two products with increasing demand. Behind the store, we have a large commercial diesel offering with seven tractor-trailer-friendly lanes, pay-at-the-pump, bulk diesel exhaust fluid and a CAT scale.
The Port of Savannah is the fourth largest container port in the United States and the second largest on the East Coast. A tremendous amount of activity occurs around the port, and we are located approximately 1 mile from the entrance, which provides a unique opportunity to serve both visitors and the local community.