Mark Oil Co. Takes Aim at Store Design

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Mark Oil Co. Takes Aim at Store Design

By Renee M. Covino, Convenience Store News - 03/23/2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A change in store design is good, particularly in a competitive market like Charlotte, where the formidable presence of QuikTrip and 7-Eleven has made “everyone up their game,” Mark Oil Co. President Bill Tome told CSNews Online.

The BP distributor, which owns but doesn’t operate most of its 26 locations, unveiled a new design with its latest store, Shopton Commons BP. Constructed near a new Tanger outlet mall west of Charlotte, the convenience store had a soft opening in December and will celebrate its grand opening in April.

“The large-format stores we built in our market over the last 10 years were mostly of the old BP Connect construction and we felt we needed a change to the interior beyond the standard graphics package,” Tome explained.

That desired change came with the help of an area designer, Gay Diller, who was recommended to Tome by a jobber in a nearby county. She created a look that was “non-standard” to the convenience store industry, reflected in the wall colors, lighting, department signage and delineation of Shopton Commons BP.

Lighting is an important element in creating a modern and upscale look in the store, Diller believes. Drop-in 2x4 fluorescents are “unique and do not create such a harsh and cold look,” she said. To accentuate the lighting, the ceiling was painted a taupe color “so it was not too dark or stark white.” The design also incorporates a lot of LED can fixtures, as well as LED tracks around the perimeter of the store.

Department-wise, the beer cave is a highlight at Shopton Commons BP, inspired by the microbreweries found in the area.

“We created a color palette with the warm metal and wood finishes you see in a lot of the old mills that have been renovated and repurposed into breweries around Charlotte’s South End neighborhood,” said Diller.

The beer cave sets the tone for the rest of the store, too. Although the rest of the store is more colorful, metal finishes and industrial “bolt-like hardware” were incorporated throughout the design.

Overall, the goal was to achieve “a balance of a modern look with some references to a fun, almost nostalgic, carnival-like vibe, repeating geometric diamond and circle shapes around the coffee and soda corner,” she noted.

The lighting package, wall color scheme and edgy graphic signage all blend together in a warm way to reach out to both male and female customers, Tome reported. The new store is receiving a good percentage of destination (outlet mall) traffic as well as neighborhood traffic — both in a growth stage thanks to local residential development.

While Shopton Commons BP is not being called a new prototype, per se, Mark Oil does plan to incorporate many of the design elements of this latest store into its next locations with “some tweaking here and there,” based on the particular store and location, Tome said.

There is another store planned in the Charlotte area, but since it’s not finalized yet, Tome said he is “keeping it quiet” for now.

For more on Mark Oil’s new store design, look in the April issue of Convenience Store News.