Skip to main content

Year in Review: The Top Small Operator Stories of 2023

Retailers were focused on introducing new innovation and expanding their footprints.
Danielle Romano
Choice Market Nomad micro-store

NATIONAL REPORT — While the convenience store industry saw some small operators exit the channel in 2023, it also saw the introduction of new retailers and formats as retailers expanded their footprint. Small operators were also focused on introducing new innovation to the channel in a number of ways.

These are the top 10 small operator stories that made headlines in 2023:

1. Foxtrot Market to Join Forces With Dom's Kitchen & Market

Uniting their shared vision to redefine food shopping and dining experiences, the two Chicago-based companies reached an agreement in principle to merge. According to the retailers, the tie-up "is just the beginning of a prosperous partnership that will bring thoughtfully curated products and experiences to consumers."

2. Lou Perrine's Gas & Grocery Exits the Convenience Channel

Lou Perrine's Gas & Grocery, a well-known independent convenience store retailer in Kenosha, ended operations on July 11 after nearly 70 years in business. Less than three months after the retailer ended operations, the buyer, Kenosha Food Mart began rebranding efforts of the two purchased c-stores.

3. M&A Deal Spurs C-StoreMaster to Launch Energy Distribution Division

Regional distributor C-StoreMaster expanded its c-store presence with the acquisition of 13 properties in the Southeast from Hayes and Sons. In the wake of the deal, C-StoreMaster launched C-StoreMaster Energy, an energy distribution division, and solidified a partnership with ExxonMobil as a licensed Exxon fuel distributor.

4. Choice Market to Open Portable & Autonomous C-store

The retailer rolled out a portable Nomad autonomous micro retail store in partnership with Juxta, a venture by Vontier Corp., a parent company to Gilbarco Veeder-Root. After initially deploying at the Renewal 2023 music festival in Buena Vista, Colo., from Sept. 21-24. Choice Market's Nomad store operates from a home base in Denver.

5. Kudos to Celebrate Entry Into the Convenience Channel

Kudos, a new-to-industry brand and project of the Greater Houston Retailers Cooperative Association Inc. (GHRA), made its debut into the c-store channel with a grand opening on Sept. 30. The store features unique food and beverage offerings such as Heroes' Chicken and Big Madre Tacos y Tortas, along with a breakfast program featuring fresh biscuits and sandwiches. 

6. Pops Mart Fuels Picks Up Another Five C-stores

Pops Mart Fuels LLC is expanded its footprint with the acquisition of Fuel Service — DJ's Mart, the Chippewa Falls, Wis.-based chain of five company-operated convenience stores. The transaction also included a wholesale fuels distribution and transportation business. The deal marked the second acquisition Pops Mart Fuels closed on in Wisconsin within a month.

7. Green Zebra Grocery to Exit C-store Industry After 10 Years

After a decade in the convenience store industry, Green Zebra closed all three of its locations on March 31. In a statement posted to the company's website, Green Zebra founder and CEO Lisa Sedlar noted the company experienced nine straight quarters of increases to its cost of goods, packaging, fuel, insurance, taxes and freight charges, among other expenses. Alongside the price hikes, the retailer couldn't overcome the obstacles that also included supply chain and staffing shortages as well as "razor-thin" grocery margins.

8. Neon Marketplace Appoints New CEO

Neon Marketplace appointed Adi Dhandhania its new CEO. In his new role, Dhandhania is responsible for the day-to-day leadership of the company, its growth strategy and the continued evolution of the brand. He also joined Neon's board of directors.

9. Jiffy Trip Moves Into Arkansas

Jiffy Trip opened its first northwest Arkansas store in Siloam Springs to customers on Feb. 23, marking the chain's first location outside of Oklahoma. The store — located at 4295 East U.S. Highway 412 — added 20 new fuel pumps, six tiers of fuel, including E-85, and approximately 40 jobs to the Siloam Springs area.

10. M&A Deal Brings Kent Kwik Convenience Stores to Florida

Kent Kwik Convenience Stores picked up Tom Thumb Food Stores Inc. The acquisition included 14 company-operated Tom Thumb Food Stores and three Subway franchise locations. The deal increased The Kent Cos. portfolio to 88 company-owned and -operated convenience stores, as well as 152 dealer sites throughout Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and now Florida.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds