EXCLUSIVE: A Stop at Maverik’s New Base Camp
SALT LAKE CITY — “Adventure’s First Stop” has a new home in downtown Salt Lake City.
After several years of being housed in low-slung, warehouse-looking buildings in North Salt Lake City, Maverik Inc. has moved its headquarters — which it calls Base Camp — to a 13-story building smack in the middle of Salt Lake City. “Adventure’s First Stop” is the tagline the company currently uses to communicate its goal of being a destination for its active, adventure-oriented core customers.
It’s an exciting time for Maverik, whose new home with its bold-red painted top floor and “Maverik Base Camp” logo can be seen from blocks around.
Convenience Store News visited the fast-growing convenience store retailer during the last week of June to view the retailer’s new offices, its first non-fuel store, and two newly rebuilt stores in southern Utah.
Maverik’s first experiment with a store sans fuel is located right on the main floor of the Base Camp building. Although it doesn’t sell gas, the store features all of the other latest programs and products of this innovative retailer, which operates 282 stores in 10 western states.
As soon as busy shoppers walk into the store, they are greeted with the sweet smell of fresh-baked Cinnabon treats. Maverik currently has franchised Cinnabon kiosks in 20 of its stores — a figure that is expected to double by the end of this year, according to Maverik President Tom Welch.
The Cinnabon kiosk is manned behind a central fresh-food section that also includes the company’s first barista-serviced dispensed hot and cold beverages counter and Maverik’s proprietary Bonfire Grill, an open kitchen where customers can view workers preparing the retailer’s wide selection of grab-and-go prepared foods, from humongous burritos to tasty-looking salads. The store has indoor seating, too.
All new Maverik stores feature Bonfire Grill, where the retailer also bakes its new personal pizzas that are currently being rolled out chainwide.
“We’re a food store,” Welch told CSNews during the Base Camp store tour. “There are no gas pumps here. Nothing to confuse the customer about our purpose. Everything here reinforces the quality of our food.”
Likewise, Welch pointed to the new store’s low-profile tobacco backbar, behind the checkout counter. The lower racks allow exterior sunlight into the store, while also providing customers with an unimpeded view of the interior.
“Our cigarette sales are about 40 percent of what most retailers do back East,” he explained. “It’s still an important category, but it’s another reason why we have to be innovative with our offerings. We can’t be dependent on cigarette and tobacco sales.”
The new Base Camp store features the now-familiar Maverik graphics, which are customized for each store but always include scenes of mountains, rivers and lakes, along with life-size hanging mannequins of kayakers and snowboarders.
The adventure theme adorns the company’s new headquarters as well, with:
- Elevator doors that look like mine shafts;
- Wall map murals with employees’ names playfully hidden among real geographic features;
- Liberal use of natural-looking materials that mimic natural stone and wood formations; and
- Lots of inspirational messages, such as Maverik’s “Live Legendary, Never Ordinary” mantra, which is meant to impress upon all employees that they are empowered to use their discretion to make customers happy.
Sweeping, panoramic views of Salt Lake City against a breathtaking mountain backdrop are available from almost anywhere on the four floors occupied by Maverik’s Base Camp staff.
As part of last month’s visit, CSNews also hopped aboard Maverik’s six-passenger corporate jet to visit two newly rebuilt stores in southern Utah with company leaders.
In rural Fillmore, Utah, a town of about 2,500 people, workers were getting the new 5,000-plus-square-foot store ready for the next day’s grand opening. Despite the town’s low population density, this replacement store is expected to do a tremendous amount of business due to its freeway location approximately halfway between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City on Interstate 15.
The newer, larger Fillmore store, like all new units, features the Bonfire Grill kitchen, as well as some additional twists such as ethanol-free gasoline for the large number of recreational vehicles that utilize the facility; super-deluxe modern restrooms; an outdoor seating area with break-resistant rubberized light bulbs for evening; a children’s playground; and a fence-enclosed dog relief area for traveling pet owners.
Maverik’s Vice President of Operations for Retail Adventures Danielle Mattiussi was also excited to test out new uniforms for the chain’s first restroom attendees. The busy freeway location in Fillmore guarantees the restrooms will receive heavy use, especially on weekends, so the company wants to make a statement about the importance of clean and sanitary facilities.
Another short flight took the group slightly north and east to another raze-and-rebuild site in the small town of Ephraim, Utah. A different type of location with a large college student population due to Snow College, the Ephraim store held its grand opening on June 29 with live music, raffles, a rock-climbing wall and rope-cutting ceremony. (After all, a “ribbon”-cutting seems too tame for Maverik’s adventure theme.)
Speaking to the Ephraim store team just prior to the rope-cutting, Welch commented on the exciting times ahead for the c-store retailer. “The growth opportunities for someone who comes to Maverik today are greater than they ever were,” he said.