Finding the C-Store Magic


As spring drew near, S. Abraham & Sons Inc. (SAS) offered convenience store operators the opportunity to cultivate new growth at its 2016 Vendor Exhibit and Trade Show.

Held Feb. 25–26 at Grand Rapids’ DeVos Place Convention Center and billed around the theme of “Where the Magic Begins,” it marked the convenience distributor’s 30th event. C-store chain representatives, single-store owners and approximately 200 vendors were in attendance.

During the kickoff dinner on the evening of Feb. 25, SAS President Alan Abraham thanked everyone in attendance, noting the real convenience store magic comes from them.

He shared with Convenience Store News that like the company’s clients, SAS is also cultivating new growth. The distributor just recently finished the first stages of a self-improvement evaluation. Abraham pointed to the connection between fulfilled employees, efficient work processes and, ultimately, happy customers.

On the trade show floor, retailers were happy to check out the latest product offerings from SAS’ vendor partners, as well as the distributor’s proprietary programs.

One of the major trends seen was the increasing demand in the convenience channel for a high-quality, quick bite. Snack suppliers are responding by offering more premium items, such as individual guacamole servings and bite-size fudge pieces.

Another trend on display was the growing desire for better-for-you items. For instance, creativity and healthfulness combine in the Cheesewich, which substitutes cheese for slices of bread around the featured protein. And The Hershey Co. spotlighted its Krave beef jerky line, especially highlighting the ingredients list, which consists of only “meat and spices.” The supplier also previewed an upcoming promotional partnership with Angry Orchard hard cider.

Last, but certainly not least, enhanced foodservice offerings drew a lot of attention on the SAS show floor. Longtime c-store foodservice staples, such as taquitos, are getting a kick with new varieties like extra-long taquitos and taquito/hot dog combos. Exhibitors noted that grab-and-go offerings are in high demand right now, along with bold and spicy flavors.

Daypart is also seeming to matter less when it comes to the foodservice category. According to one exhibitor, c-stores should pay close attention to their specific market as a number of consumers are interested in eating breakfast items during non-breakfast hours.

As in previous years, SAS once again featured its model convenience store at the back of the exhibition hall to demonstrate its enhanced foodservice programs. But this year, it also featured its new “space to sales” analysis, which helps retailers optimize their individual stores.

This free process examines the layout and stocked products at individual stores to determine which segments are underallocated or overallocated.

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