Independently Speaking: Rounding It Out
Independent Minnesota retailer balances consistency with innovation
Josh Lund, owner and manager of Beaudry Express in Elk River, Minn., has a secret of success, but it’s no magic bullet. Lund’s secret requires patience and work. As he strives to make it as an independent retailer in the convenience industry, Lund puts effort into every aspect of running his business. His secret? Being well rounded.
Lund got a degree in finance and worked in banking for a few years. When his father-in-law, Ken Beaudry of Beaudry Oil, decided to sell off his convenience stores to focus on his propane business, Lund and his wife, Lisa, took over one of them. They bought Beaudry’s last store in 2005.
Beaudry Express was built in 1993 on the corner of Highway 10 and Proctor Avenue, a good spot with steady commuter traffic. Roughly 30,000 people drive by daily.
“Back when the store was built, my father-in-law liked how [a competitor] was set up,” Lund says, “so he went to their store and literally paced it out. He copied it exactly. The cashiers are in the middle on a raised platform. Freezers and coolers are at the back.”
Day by Day
Lisa does the store’s bookkeeping, along with accounting work for Beaudry Oil in the office next door. Lund oversees the store’s daily operations. He makes sure the store is always well-staffed 24 hours a day. He takes his time with the hiring process, focusing on recruiting employees who will invest in the job for the long term and support his high standards of store cleanliness.
“Clutter, clutter, clutter: It’s one of the biggest problems with independents,” Lund says.
He doesn’t accept when vendors offer financial incentives for store displays that he feels could make his store look messy, but he nonetheless prioritizes having good relationships with vendors.
“A partnership with a vendor is a two-way street,” he says. “You have to give to get.”
Lund won’t hesitate to drop a price point in order to move more volume at a vendor’s request. “We make up for the penny profits we lose on single units when we do deals like buy-one-get-one on Rockstar,” he says. “That’s something a lot of stores just won’t do. But it’s worth it to us. We’re going to cut the margin and sell a ton of it. Plus customers are often grabbing something else along with it.”
Lund also maintains a strong relationship with his grocery distributor, McLane Co., using its Java City Express coffee program to entice his morning commuters. He offers seven different brews plus cappuccino, all set against a classy tile and cherry wood backdrop to pull it all together. Along with more than 200 cups of coffee daily, Beaudry Express sells more than 200. Case Donuts, a local bakery, delivers them fresh daily.
Beaudry Express is gradually being remodeled with a cohesive, contemporary store design.