For many people, convenience stores are more than just a place to grab their morning coffee and top off their tank. Gone are the days when the layout, safety features and especially the unique aspects of a store have no weight in the decision to stop at one store or another. The way a convenience store is designed matters, and continuing to update or remodel has become a necessity for many c-store owners and operators.
Beyond the need to continuously refresh the offerings and features available, these updates need to match the needs of the community in which it serves. Communities are unique, from how they gather to what businesses best suit their needs. Residents crave local conveniences, and the best spots are made specifically with their communities in mind.
In Roseau, Minnesota, for instance, the local Cenex c-store serves as just that. Kelly Christianson, general manager of the Northern Resources Cooperative, which owns and operates the Roseau Cenex, has been running the coop-owned store for the past 15 years. To him, it’s always been important that the c-store reflect the community and evolve to fit its needs. A few years ago, Christianson began feeling as though the store was outgrowing itself, and began thinking of a renovation.
“This location was previously land-locked, so we slowly acquired the neighboring land, including building and tenant rights,” said Christianson. “That allowed us to go all-in with a full tear-down and rebuild from the ground up. We also designed the store to fit the needs of the Roseau community and to make the location a destination.”
As is true with Northern Resources Cooperative’s store, Cenex locations are locally owned and operated. The brand’s new initiative, LIFT, provides retailers with the freedom and flexibility to renovate their stores how they see fit. Through the exterior portion of the program, Halo, the Cenex brand invests in the forecourt image of branded c-stores. While forecourt upgrades will happen at all locations, supporting the independence of each store was an important aspect of LIFT.
Because LIFT is managed in-house at CHS, store operators are offered resources throughout the process of a renovation. Like Christianson’s experience, Cenex-branded c-stores will have a dedicated Cenex representative to help guide them through every step of the renovation process. The initiative also includes an in-store financing program, making hefty renovation expenses a bit easier to manage.
“I was comfortable going into the renovation knowing I was saving on some interest expenses because of my partnership with Cenex,” said Christianson. “I saw that Cenex had my back by making such a large investment. LIFT was a really thought-out program and it especially benefited people like us that were making a bigger investment.”
When Christianson said he wanted to go all-in with the renovation, he meant it. As can be imagined with a rebuild, it included many new features and upgrades to enhance the functionality, safety and customer experience of the store.
Christianson’s top priority was always to ensure the end product is something his customers love. To make that a reality, he added new features to make his c-store more accessible, including reach-in and walk-in coolers and a new self-serve soda station that was inspired from evolving treads in the bar industry.
“We created our own version of a tap wall, and found a supplier of craft soda out of a brewery in Milwaukee,” said Christianson. “Customers can fill their own cups with three different craft soda flavors, or they can make their own old-fashioned floats with hard-serve ice cream we have in a freezer next to the tap wall. It’s one of my favorite elements we added in to make this location a destination.”
Christianson also put a lot of thought into designing the forecourt at his store to ensure customers were able to quickly get in and out. Halo had already provided many forecourt updates, including updated canopy branding elements with a 360-degree LED light band, a new Cenex logo and a three-dimensional backlit blue arch.
While these updates elevated the exterior on their own, Christianson wanted to stay true to his goal of going big and making the location a perfect fit for the Roseau community. The store is in a major agricultural area, so the diesel island was a focal point to allow semis to get in and out easily.
“We went with a single row of pumps so there was no wait time, and we put them at an angle to make the traffic flow easier,” said Christianson. “We're also in a touristy area with a lot of trailers, a lot of campers, a lot of boats being pulled, so putting the pumps at an angle is easier for people pulling units to get in and out of our facility.”
Throughout the renovation, Christianson has proven his commitment to his community through the upgrades he’s chosen for his c-store. He fulfilled his goal of making the store a destination, one that will serve the community well.
To learn more about the renovation and the Cenex LIFT initiative, visit Cenex.com.
This post is sponsored by Cenex®