MIDLOTHIAN, Va. — After three years of collaborating with its design and construction partners to develop a reimagined brand experience, Dash In unveiled the fruits of its labor with an all-new, large-format "neighborhood concept store" in Chesterfield County, Va., that prominently showcases local products and the retailer’s elevated fresh food and beer/wine offering.
"[This store] achieves what we’re trying to do at Dash In. Other c-stores focus on transactions associated with normal customer pit stops, but for us and our mantra, we want to make time more rewarding for people by emphasizing a sense of local and personal connection that transforms the necessary errands of today’s busy lives into engaging experiences," said Julian B. Wills, president of La Plata, Md.-based Dash In, a Wills Group company.
Situated on 2.4 acres of land, the 5,600-square-foot convenience store is Dash In’s largest store to date.
Located in an area that has a healthy mix of residential and commercial activity, the prototype’s interior branding uses sepia tone imagery of Richmond landmarks, allowing Dash In to capitalize on the personal connection customers have to this specific marketplace.
The store also features earthen materials like brick and elevated wood siding, open ceilings and subway tile. Exterior elements of the store are influenced by Jeffersonian architecture.
An expansive kitchen serves as the centerpiece of the Chesterfield County location, allowing customers to clearly locate it upon walking into the store. The move to put foodservice at the epicenter of the store design was intentional.
"From a trust perspective, we wanted customers to be able to see the food being produced because we wanted to have that transparency. It also illustrates the freshness of everything being made on-site, on demand," Wills explained.
Its Chef’s Craveable foodservice program — which includes all-day breakfast, artisan sandwiches, grab-and-go wraps and salads that are prepared in-house daily — has been adapted to the fit the concept of localized. Specific to the Chesterfield County location, Dash In is testing two new menu items: a Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla and Chicken Parmesan sliders. The latter is the seventh variety in the retailer’s slider sandwich program.
Thanks to the size of the kitchen, Dash In anticipates using this location to introduce and test more localized menu items before rolling them out to its other stores.
Photos by John Magor Photography and Donnell Wallace at DW Celebrity Photography LLC
Turning to its beverage offerings, the retailer has introduced a growler and crowler program in this new format. Although alcoholic beverages aren’t something the chain is explicitly looking to get into, the program is a unique characteristic that the retailer wanted to incorporate given the prominence of craft brewers in the Richmond market.
As part of the program, eight taps change frequently and feature beer selections from local and regional craft breweries. Currently, Dash In has tapped 21 Virginia breweries, 20 local breweries and six micro-breweries. Customers can purchase a 32-ounce canned crowler or a 64-ounce glass growler, or refill their own growlers as part of the retailer’s program. According to Wills, Dash In is the first retailer in the Richmond market to sell crowlers.
Other standout features of Dash In’s new neighborhood concept store are:
- A more modern and expansive seating package;
- An assortment of local products situated in the front of the store, including Good Earth Peanuts from Skipper, Va., which is about an hour away from Richmond; and
- An expanded wine selection.
Going forward, new Dash In stores will feature a selection of elements from the Chesterfield County store, with decisions being made based on each store’s size and location.
"The best part of the Dash In brand is that regardless of location, we work to create meaningful, personalized experiences that enrich our customers’ lives," Wills said. "That’s one way we feel like we can set ourselves apart and differentiate from the competition of some of the other regional and national brands that don’t go to that level of personalization."
Dash In operates more than 50 stores throughout Maryland, Virginia and Delaware.
Download our full report, "Transforming Errands Into Engaging Experiences," by clicking below.