Convenience Plus Launches Prototype

Convenience Plus, a new Sunoco 4,500-square-foot convenience center, has combined technology with the personal feeling of a country store to create a prototype unit that will celebrate its grand opening at a ribbon-cutting ceremony tomorrow in Ohio.

Developed by brothers Frank and John Baird, Convenience Plus uses the technology to enhance the consumer's experience while providing the increased services consumer have grown to expect from neighborhood convenience stores. The technology is both visible and invisible to the consumer, but works to offer superior customers service.

Among the ways technology has been used in the facility include:
* Dispensers that allow consumers to purchase gasoline when the store is not open through dispensers that accept credit cards and cash 24 hours a day.

* While security cameras inside and outside are typical in a new convenience store, cutting-edge technology allows local law enforcement to dial into the store's computers and view what the cameras are seeing. This increases the safety of the store's employees and customers, as well as allows law enforcement officials -- at their discretion -- to monitor employees as they sell age-restricted products such as alcohol or tobacco.

* During business hours, customers can withdraw money from an ATM that offers a partial rebate on the transaction fee through coupons for in-store items and discounts from area businesses.

* Building design, from heating and cooling to electrical wiring, was developed to provide a quiet, controlled setting. For example, compressors for the coolers are located outside the building, reducing interior noise and heat generated from the coolers' compressors.

* An intellacarb fountain drink machine uses a computer to mix the proper amount of syrup and water.

* The carryout window activates through motion detectors, eliminating the push button or foot-control commonly used at carryout locations.

The technology, however, has not replaced the warm, inviting feeling found in the setting of a country store, said Frank Baird. A white and brown brick exterior with a large, brass clock offers an inviting appearance that matches the location's rural setting. The wide-open interior with low shelves continues that theme as a countryside mural sweeps across the wall greeting customers entering the store.

The use of technology complements the products and services offered, which include:
* Noble Roman's breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings.
* Soft-serve ice cream and deli sandwiches.
* A traditional convenience store offering.
* Krispy Kreme doughnuts and branded Java Lane coffee.
* Chester Fried Chicken.
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