Competing with Yourself

New Stripes location sits across from legacy store and that's OK.

By  Steve DeSutter, President and CEO

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Across the street, an aging convenience store warhorse stands tall, continuing to satisfy its loyal locals as it has for more than two decades. Today Stripes store No. 107 still operates practically in the shadow of store No. 2285, our newest big-box Stripes convenience store in this West Texas market and the 530th in the Stripes convenience store and Susser Holdings fleet.

It was a tough call when we decided we were missing an opportunity on this I-20 Interstate location on the outskirts of Midland, Texas. Old store 107’s 3,000 square feet of merchandising space was churning out impressive sales and profits per square foot that placed it in the top quartile of our chain. Based purely on the numbers, it was hard to make the argument to replace it. But decisions cannot nor should not be based only on the stores themselves. The long-term future of the Midland market, centered in the middle of the booming West Texas oil and gas industry, promises growth and demand for convenience by oil-field workers for a long time to come.

So we faced a dilemma: to raze and rebuild, or open a new location that meets the growing expectations of this market.

BY THE NUMBERS

Directly across the street from our legacy store 107, Stripes store 2285 sits on more than 6 acres, with 20 fueling locations for passenger cars and light trucks and six fueling locations at a dedicated 18-wheel fueling island. A staff of about 40 dedicated team members support 24/7 operations, and there are parking spots for up to 40 18-wheelers and buses and more than 70 for passenger cars.

We certainly had a lot of experience at this location with the sales history of our legacy store across the street. We also considered traffic count on the interstate and a number of other factors, including local market growth and the competitive landscape. Our model told us we could expect demand for independent truck diesel off the interstate and from service companies working in the oil fields. We bought the land for the location in April 2010, and we opened the store this past May.

For more than a decade, we have been evolving our bigger-box concept. We’ve been looking for the right combination of shopping and dining space, and a design that evokes a bright openness, which is refreshing for travelers. The store has about 6,000 square feet of merchandising space. We have expanded the service counters and food prep space for our Laredo Taco fresh food concept that loyal Stripes customers expect to find in each of our new stores. The expanded food prep space was necessary to accommodate the planned higher daily output—if all goes according to plan, of course. We expect a store like this to sell nearly double our system average of foodservice daily.

Inside and outside we continue to tweak our light package: LED lighting dominates the exterior, and we are finding more applications inside as well. This store is our second new build in which we have gone to fully constructed partitions to add durability and attractiveness, and customers are very happy about this change.

For now we have kept our legacy store in operation, anchored by a Subway sandwich shop, and we are pleased with its continued performance. As for the new store, it is growing into its footprint quickly, especially thanks to the robust oil field demand. So far, we are very pleased with the results.

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