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L & M Auto, Inc.

(413) 269-6220
Papa's Healthy Food & Fuel
(413) 269-7779
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The Big Idea
By Jeff Lenard, National Association of Convenience Stores
 

This October, some of the biggest companies in the world will be visiting East Otis to see the innovative concepts at Papa’s Healthy Food & Fuels.
 

Don’t worry about traffic jams on Route 23; Papa’s will be featured in a video tour of 12 innovative retailers conducted by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

This October, 23,000 attendees from the convenience store industry will gather in Las Vegas at the association’s NACS Show to see and hear what is new and innovative in the $681 billion convenience store business. Think about that number for a minute – those sales mean that one of every 22 dollars in the country is spent at a convenience store. Retailers attend the three-day event to find new ideas for how they can stand out from the competition.

A highlight of the meeting is the annual “Ideas 2 Go” general session, a fast-paced video tour of innovative and unique convenience retail operators from around the country — and sometimes the world. The program shares retailing best practices by retailers for retailers, which is extremely unique to the convenience store industry. After all, how many other retail channels invite other retailers into their businesses and share their best ideas?

It’s no easy task to select a mere dozen stores to profile out of the 148,000-plus stores across the country, but Papa’s certainly was worth the trip. Our film crew visited Papa’s in June to talk to owner Larry Southard about some of the unique elements of the store.

“The joke around here is that we have an identity crisis…I would describe us as a general store; a healthy version of a general store with a deli,” Larry told us.

But we saw that the store is much more than that. Papa’s really is three businesses in one location: a traditional grocery, an organic grocery and an automotive shop/dealer. But what each business has in common is a focus on the community. You could see that on the day we visited, with the famers market in full swing. In addition to booths featuring local produce and products, Larry also manned the grill, offering up some tasty treats. And, it was clear that some of the fresh produce on sale in the market also was on sale inside the store.

In some respects, Papa’s is like most of the convenience store business. It is a single-store operation, like about 63 percent of the stores in the country. What makes Papa’s unique is the execution. It wasn’t just during the weekly farmers market, but what they did every day to create customer loyalty.

Here’s one simple way: pictures of customers’ pets prominently displayed in the store. Larry said it was a simple idea that just blossomed, and how dozens of dogs (and other creatures) have their pictures on display at the store.

What attendees most will notice about Papa’s is how this store exemplifies the convenience store industry’s future, and it’s right there in the name: Papa’s Healthy Food and Fuels.” Papa’s delivers on that promise of its name with a truly impressive array of products that fits the bill. And will just one of the many interesting ideas that retailers will note in a session where attendees furiously scribble down ideas to consider for their stores.

This year’s Ideas 2 Go video program also will feature other stores’ emerging concepts that are redefining convenience, whether through alternative fuels, new loyalty and payment programs or redefining what stores sell. In addition to workshops and sessions, the NACS Show will features a 387,000-plus net-square-foot exposition floor with 1,333 exhibiting companies, representing some of the world’s largest companies.

Come to think of it, maybe there will be an increase in traffic on Route 23, but it won’t be till after October, when show attendees want to see first-hand how Papa’s Healthy Foods & Fuels makes it all work.

L & M Auto, Inc. - (413) 269-6220 ● Papa's Healthy Food & Fuel - (413) 269-7779 ● 2000 East Otis Road, Rt. 23 East Otis, MA 01029
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