Byrne Dairy Takes Local to a New Level


LAFAYETTE, N.Y. -- The walls of Byrne Dairy Inc.’s new store model practically talk to customers. They are adorned with photographs of a truck loading up milk at the local dairy farm; the bustling milk processing plant in Syracuse; a delivery truck bringing milk to the store; and local residents buying milk produced in their neighborhood. 

This wall art is flanked by perhaps the most impressive image of all: the local dairy farmer who made it all happen. His name and address are even included so that customers can connect with him. That’s assuming they don’t know him already.

“Many times, the local dairy farmers we highlight shop in that store, and many in the community do know him,” said Mark Byrne, president and CEO of Sonbyrne Sales Inc., the retail division of Lafayette, N.Y.-based Byrne Dairy. Putting his photograph on the wall solidifies the core values the chain has always had — only now the stores are “wearing” it in their design.

“We’ve always been a local company that buys from local farmers; all our milk comes from family farms and we’re family-owned. A lot of people know that, we’re just highlighting it,” Byrne told CSNews Online. “Nowadays, people are tracing backward, they want to know where their products came from, where it was manufactured and who handled it. We’re playing off that theme and it has been very successful.”

The new store model debuted in Whitesboro, N.Y., in the fall of 2012 and now, three more Byrne Dairy stores are slated to open in New York in the near term and they will all model the Whitesboro store in design. “It’s a concept that’s working and we’ve had no need to change it or even tweak it since we opened it,” Byrne stated.

Because Byrne Dairy knows its convenience stores are a dairy destination — customers come specifically for its dairy products including milk, ice cream, yogurt and cheese, and for other local products to feed their families — it wanted the store atmosphere to be more conducive to customers lingering a little longer, much like many upscale supermarkets have done. 

In fact, Byrne admits that he and the Byrne Dairy team visited other retailers, including supermarkets, “and picked elements from the best of what we saw.”

The Whitesboro store reflects that with “a more welcoming and relaxed atmosphere,” according to Byrne. The design includes walls painted with more “earth-tone” colors, richer floors and subtle lighting. “Instead of real bright lighting and white walls, we toned it down and made it more muted, more relaxed, so people would be able to shop and eat for a while longer,” he explained. 

Additionally, the new design provides a lot more room to move around. The Whitesboro store was designed with wider aisles so shopping carts could be maneuvered more freely. Byrne Dairy stores offers a bigger grocery section than most traditional c-stores. 

Like most forward-moving convenience retailers, a big highlight for Byrne Dairy is better-quality foodservice. The chain’s Byrnsie’s Deli features “mighty fine foods” like subs and sandwiches. Its deli slogan even playfully ties into its dairy roots — “Fast, fresh & udderly delicious.”

For those customers on the go, refrigerated cases house options such as yogurt parfaits, fresh fruit cups, sandwiches and salads. The sandwiches are made from local cheeses and meats because “we want to promote the local aspect of foods in the store wherever possible,” Byrne said.

For more on Byrne Dairy’s new store model, look in the April issue of Convenience Store News

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