The latest tablet and laptop computers, Ultra HDTVs with four times the resolution of HDTVs, gaming systems, home theater audio systems, digital cameras and camcorders along with all the necessary accessories – all can be found in the electronics departments of Conn’s 70-plus stores throughout the Southwest and on its website.
The company’s concentration on the profitable portions of the electronics industry has enabled it to improve its profitability at a time when commoditization of the market is much too rampant for many retailers’ comfort. While some retailers are abandoning the electronics category and others went bankrupt during the last recession or survived it but are struggling now, Conn’s is committed to keeping electronics profitable in its product mix of appliances, furniture, mattresses and lawn equipment.
Read more: Conn's
When it comes to retail, consumers have several reasons why they choose one store over another. Builder Appliance Center (BAC) of Englewood, Colo., however, is very clear about why it is the only choice, and continuously works to ensure it meets the market’s needs in a variety of ways. Customer service, for example, always remains prominent in the company’s daily operations.
“BAC has a strong commitment to customer service,” the company says. “We have an in-house customer service representative who has more than 10 years in the appliance business and is a single point of contact that will coordinate service calls on any unit. BAC is also the only appliance dealer that has an exclusive project management team. This is a great benefit to [customers] because they don’t have to depend on just one person having responsibility for their project.”
Read more: Builder Appliance Center
A legacy of family ownership and a team of dedicated and experienced employees combine to make Bronson’s Marketplace a success. “Our base really comes from my parents Rich and Karen Bronson, who started the store in 1979,” says co-owner Kim Kessler. “They really worked to get the store to where it is today and built a strong business with great employees.”
Managers Russ Winkler, Kim Pachl, Suzeann Jankowski, Rick Miller and Connie Sailer, who started working in the store under Kessler’s parents, remain there. Several other employees are also long-tenured. “Our employees truly care about the store and are very dedicated,” Kessler says.
Read more: Bronson's Marketplace
At Wedge Community Co-op, a large percentage of its shoppers are not only customers, but also the store’s owners, CEO Josh Resnik says. “Seventy-eight percent of our sales are to people who are members of the co-op,” he says.
This has motivated the store’s employees to make sure they are providing its customers with top service. “They really help guide you through the shopping process,” Resnik continues.
Read more: Wedge Community Co-Op
Most convenience store chains focus all of their energies on little more than convenience, offering customers packaged snacks and sandwiches aimed at getting them in and out of the stores quickly. Tiger Fuel Company, on the other hand, had the notion of giving customers more than food made with speed in mind. The company introduced its Gourmet-to-Go program nearly 22 years ago at its Bellair Market location in Charlottesville, Va., and its selection of freshly-made deli sandwiches have earned it the distinction of being “America’s first gourmet gas station,” according to District Manager Gordon Sutton.
Read more: Tiger Fuel Company
When State Oil Co. is training its area managers, store managers and customer representatives to operate its Marathon and Phillips 66 gas station/c-stores in Illinois, the company knows it wants “friendly faces and good service.”
“We emphasize always saying ‘hello’ when someone enters the store,” President Pete Anest says. “It is important to make sure you acknowledge the customer so they are noticed and feel appreciated. We want to make sure [employees] have nametags on and are learning the names of frequent customers. That’s really important. We want them to stay upbeat and positive, even if they have a complaint, because that will keep getting them coming back.”
Read more: State Oil Co.
Customers judge convenience stores by their appearance on a daily basis when they decide whether to stop at one over the other. Knowing outdated looks don’t lure customers, Orton Oil is remodeling its older sites and coming up with fresh marketing ideas to rival competitors.
Founded in 1958 by Leland and Maude Orton, Orton Oil remains family owned and headquartered in Walker, Minn. Fourth-generation owner and Vice President Frank Orton says over the past 55 years the company has grown significantly from where it started as a single oil service station and Ford dealership.
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When Hess Corp. announced earlier this year that it was exiting the oil and gas retail market to focus wholly on its exploration and production operations, it was simply a continuation of a trend that has been happening for nearly a decade. Oil exploration and production companies have been divesting their retail assets and instead choosing to sell to jobbers who market the product to end-customers. For oil and gas retailers already in the market, the industry trend has created ample opportunity for growth.
Read more: Nouria Energy Corp.
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