‘Store Next Door’ Alternative to Big Boxes

Discussion
Dec 20, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

After a redesign, AmeriStop’s 110 FoodMart stores will be 3,400 square feet. That’s big by convenience store standards but far smaller than the average big box store the company says it plans to compete with once its stores are upgraded with expanded offerings that may include post offices, check cashing and food service.

Don Bloom who owns 55 percent of the retailer said big boxes are moving into AmeriStop’s home market of Cincinnati in greater numbers and increasing the size of the FoodMart locations is a necessary evolution the company needs to undergo to remain viable in an increasingly competitive market.

FRCH Design Worldwide, based in Cincinnati, handled the prototype reformat and its approach was to design a store that would appeal to the typical grab-and-go customer as well those looking for a grocery store experience in a more convenient format. Vice president and creative director Steve McGowan told the Cincinnati Business Courier, FRCH and Ameristop were looking to create the “store next door” for consumers.

Jeff Lenard, a spokesperson for the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) said AmeriStop is a following a trend of bigger stores in the industry. “The trick is how do you continue to grow in size … and not jeopardize your No. 1 attribute, which is speed of service?”

To address this issue, FRCH created a design dividing the store into two zones. The front-end is for shoppers looking to grab what they need and go while the back of the store is laid out like a typical food market.

Moderator’s Comment: What impact are big boxes having on convenience stores? Are bigger convenience stores with more products and services the answer
for operators looking to be more competitive in the current business environment?

There’s no doubt that many consumers are looking for a more manageable grocery shopping experience. That said, if any sizeable number of consumers are going
to plan to do their grocery shopping in a convenience format, there is going to have to be something other than a shorter walk around the store to get them out of Wal-Mart and
Kroger.

George Anderson – Moderator

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