Meet the Three New Players in the C-Store Game

Meet the Three New Players in the C-Store Game - GSP

Just as Walmart is closing its small format stores, three other retail big-leaguers are jumping into the arena in a big way: Target, Publix and H•E•B. The thing they all have in common? Legions of loyal fans, according to a recent study.

TargetExpress actually started as a beta store in downtown Minneapolis in 2014. It has since grown to six stores with locations in Chicago, D.C. and San Francisco. The 20,000-square-foot format is “designed for quick trip shopping” and features “an edited assortment” that includes fresh produce, grab-and-go food and “some awesome, unexpected finds,” according to the corporate blog. The selection is hyper-tailored to each city’s commuters and business travelers. For example, The Spot (Target’s dollar bin) is stocked with office supplies and the store also carries last-minute accessory and wardrobe needs for those unexpected, after-work events. And yes, the store already has fans. PopSugar paid tribute with this article entitled “16 Reasons Why the New TargetExpress Will Change Your Life.”

Publix recently announced that it is building a small format store on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. Rumors have been swirling for a couple of years now that they wanted to try a smaller prototype. Will this become a test store? It’s certainly a great way to get to know millennial/Gen Z thinking firsthand and cultivate loyalty among this sought-after demographic.

H•E•B, a grocery store chain with a loyal following, plans to open a “high-end” convenience store in San Antonio this March. Newspaper reports have determined that it will be a 7,416 square-foot store with fuel pumps, a car wash and a 2,880 square-foot Wendy’s fast food restaurant attached. With more than 370 supermarkets in Texas and Mexico, H•E•B already has the buying power, infrastructure and fuel stations in place to be successful. This is a store that likes to have fun – and it also consistently ranks high in customer service and satisfaction – so it will be interesting to see their spin on a c-store. Just have a glance at this Business Insider article, “13 Reasons H•E•B Is the Best Grocery Store in America.”

We can’t wait to see what happens next. The infusion of fresh thinking that these three retailers bring is sure to inspire visual merchandising and marketing trends throughout the c-store industry.

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