PHOTO GALLERY: A Look Inside Haffner's New Flagship Store

The retailer unveils a comprehensive convenience brand.
Amanda Koprowski
Associate Editor
Koprowski Headshot
Haffner's flagship convenience store in Lawrence, Mass.

LAWRENCE, Mass. — Haffner's has always been a tale of two businesses.

On the one side is its heating oil and propane services, which appear to be the dominant half, serving more than 45,000 customers throughout New England.

On the other side is its 71 gas stations and convenience stores, which though appearing less notable, are in fact the reason for the company's existence, starting with its first filling station in Lawrence, in 1925.

So, what better place for the company to launch a new and expanded flagship store than in the city where it all started. In fact, according to Dennis Kelleher, Haffner's director of marketing, this was a major consideration when selecting a site for the flagship.

"The choice of Lawrence ... was driven by a rich history, a strong connection to our origins and the exciting opportunity to play a pivotal role in the revitalization of the city," he said. "By investing in this location, we are not only establishing a flagship store, but also actively participating in the city's growth and renewal. This aligns perfectly with our vision of being more than just a business, but a positive force for change and progress in the communities we serve."

Making its debut in early 2023, the new Haffner's store measures 6,000 square feet and sits on two acres of land along a major artery road for the area. In addition to the usual gas pumps and walk-in convenience store, the site incorporates a drive-thru and a touchless car wash.

[Read more: Haffner's Grows in Massachusetts Through Two Deals]

However, it's within the c-store that the changes really stand out, starting with two new foodservice concepts created in concert with New England-based, family-owned companies: Crack'd Kitchen Express and Sal's Pizza. Both Crack'd and Sal's traditionally operate full-size restaurants.

A family connection helped get the ball rolling for these partnerships. The father of Alan Frati, the co-owner of Crack'd, works for Haffner's and helped connect the organizations. From there, Kelleher noted, the mutual benefits of an express concept became apparent.

"The decision to collaborate with these family-owned companies was influenced by the shared value of offering high-quality, local food brands to customers," he said. "This resonates well with Haffner's ethos of providing exceptional products and services to the community."

Between the morning offerings of Crack'd, and the lunch and dinner offerings of Sal's, the Lawrence store can conceivably cover every meal a customer may be looking for. And on top of the diverse range of food options, this location features the added convenience of the drive-thru.

"The customer feedback regarding our foodservice offerings has been exceptionally positive. The quality and variety of our food offerings have been recognized, aligning perfectly with our commitment to delivering high-quality products," said Kelleher. "This positive reception is a testament to our dedication to catering to the changing tastes of our customers while maintaining the utmost standards of excellence."

Community & Connection

The design of the flagship store is described as a "a fusion of thoughtful elements" that pay homage to the city's history while embodying Haffner's commitment to quality and innovation.

The use of natural materials, such as wood and brick, creates a warm and inviting environment. To enhance wayfinding and create a cohesive experience, the retailer strategically employed its standard brand colors throughout the store, using them as guideposts to direct customers seamlessly through the space and ensure a smooth and intuitive journey.

One distinctive feature is the incorporation of historical murals that celebrate the rich heritage of Lawrence. These murals not only add visual interest, but also create a sense of connection with the local community, according to Kelleher.

The flagship store will set the tone for the company's future builds, and serve as a foundation for Haffner's short- and long-term goals. "This strategic move encompasses several key aspects that not only enhance our brand presence, but also position us for growth and success," he said.

[Read more: Haffner's Grows Its Heating Oil & Propane Business]

In the short term, the strategic location of the Lawrence store — in the same area as the company's Heating Operations division — creates opportunities for cross-promotions, streamlined operations and a more cohesive customer experience.

The flagship also introduces Haffner's as "a comprehensive convenience store brand," a move that signifies the company's commitment to diversifying its portfolio and adapting to changing market dynamics. Haffner's has an ambitious growth strategy for the next year that involves site optimization, expansion into new locations with innovative concepts, diversification into new verticals, and a strong focus on remodeling and standardization.

Before the end of 2024, the retailer expected to bring the new flagship model to Glouchester, Mass. This location will also feature a dispensary on the second floor, marking Haffner's second entry into the vertical.

In 2024, the flagship model will be used to establish a presence in Gilford, N.H., further extending Haffner's reach and impact. Also in the upcoming year, the company intends to tear down and rebuild several of its current sites, while expanding its collaborations with both Crack'd and Sal's, and experimenting with other foodservice offerings, such as incorporating deli counters at select stores.

All in all, Kelleher views the company's plans heading into this year with a sense of excitement.

"Updating our existing portfolio to new brand standards ensures consistency across all touchpoints, reinforcing our brand identity and enhancing customer recognition. This consistency strengthens our long-term positioning in the industry and establishes Haffner's as a trusted name that customers can rely on for quality and convenience," he said.

About the Author

Koprowski Headshot

Amanda Koprowski

Amanda Koprowski is the associate editor at Convenience Store News. She is a new member of the team, having joined the company in December of 2022.

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