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Kansas C-stores Upgrade Offerings

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- In an effort to lure customers inside convenience stores to make additional purchases, area c-stores are sprucing up their in-store features and offerings, the Lawrence Journal World reported.

"There are days where we're selling fuel at or below cost," Scott Zaremba, president of Zarco 66 Earth-Friendly Fuels, which has eight locations in eastern Kansas, said in the report. "You can't keep the doors open if you're selling below cost, so we need to have other products in our locations that customers are asking for."

An example of this is an in-store offering being described as "Zarco 66 Oasis," which is slated to be installed in the chain's busiest store and open within six weeks. The plan includes a new Sandbar Subs shop, an indoor Scooter's Coffeehouse and a Godfather's Pizza, according to the report.

Such offerings soon will spread to all of his locations in some form, featuring fresh-made foods and beverages.

"The world is changing ... and now we're evolving," Zaremba told the newspaper. "We're moving into concierge and guest services, and that's what we're about: Welcome to paradise."

And at the forecourt, Zarco 66 is in the process of switching its premium tanks over to E85 fuels, which reflect the retailer's eco-friendly positioning. Zaremba opened his first Earth-Friendly Fuels station in February 2008, looking to steer away from a reliance on foreign oil and toward domestic supplies such as ethanol.

High-octane premium fuel had represented only 5 percent of his fuel sales, which helped make the decision easier, he said.

The in-store revamp is also taking place at single-store owners in the area. Sammi Sangam, owner of Speedway Shell, offers homemade Indian food under the banner "Curry in a Hurry." From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. each weekday, shoppers can pick up a ready-to-eat, to-go meal of curried chicken and rice pilaf.

"When you're in a hurry, buy some curry," Sangam told the paper. "Nobody makes money on gas; it's the inside sales that really help." He added: "There has to be something unique to your store: discount offers, or something not sold by somebody else. You need something unique."

Sangam has seen an uptick in sales since adding the fresh food. Sangam prices furl above others in the area since he only sells "pure" gasoline -- fuel not blended with ethanol.

Related News:

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Dresser Wayne and Zarco 66 Open "Green" Station

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