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Mason Short Stop, Mason, Texas

For owner Charles Reichenau, the biggest headache of his redesign came when he looked across the street every day. Because he was looking at his competition front and center.

"As I was redesigning my store, a certain well-known c-store chain was literally building a 3,800- square-foot store at the same time," recalled Reichenau. "Their gas islands alone had six MPDs, triple the size of mine." Therefore, one of his first decisions was to compete not on gas, but foodservice.

"My store is 25 years old and 2,400 square feet, and it was first remodeled in 1985," he said. "I had the tanks and pumps upgraded in 1994, but this time out, I wanted to work on making my foodservice section outstanding."

Reichenau collaborated with San Angelo, Texas-based Visions Design Group Inc. "We gutted the store, moved the cold vault to the opposite side of the store, moved the front door and put in a new floor and new ceilings," said Reichenau. "We also repositioned the bathrooms so that we had back-to-back bathrooms.

"There had been a granite tile in place when we remodeled in 1985, and we couldn't match the color so we ended up laying down whole new tile," he added. "We also had a suspended ceiling before and now we've installed a new white one. The lighting has also been changed from 8-foot fluorescent tubes to brand-new recessed lighting. New red counters have been installed in the fountain area, and we've put in a 12-head fountain machine in the beverage section, and a six-head dispenser in the foodservice area."

The seating areas were changed as well. "Before, we had five booths, each seating four people," said Reichenau. "We now have seven booths — two of which seat six people comfortably and five booths that seat four people. This area is separate from the c-store."

Even though the decision was made not to compete on gas, the islands were still worked on. "Before we only had about 20 feet between the two MPDs. We expanded that to 30 feet so that it could accommodate four cars," he said.

While it is still too soon to speculate on profits, Reichenau is confident. "The redesign was costly — around $300,000. But the process was done fairly quickly and I'm optimistic that we'll see dramatic results from our labors." n
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