DES MOINES, Iowa — Over the last few years, as grocery stores have closed their doors in many small towns, residents have been forced to travel 20 miles or more to shop the closest supermarket — many of which operate at reduced hours. At the same time, there has been a pronounced increase in the number of discount stores like Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar in small, rural communities, although they do not sell traditional grocery items.
Enter Allsup’s Market. Equal parts convenience store and supermarket, this first-of-its-kind concept in Melrose, N.M., combines history with innovation to fill the void. For years, Melrose residents have had to travel approximately 30 miles to get to the nearest grocery store.
“We created Allsup’s Market to meet the nutritional needs of our customers by offering fresh fruits and vegetables, assorted high-quality meats, whole grains, and an expanded selection of grocery items,” said Mark Allsup, president of Allsup’s Convenience Stores, which was acquired by Des Moines-based Yesway in November 2019. “Melrose, like many rural communities, is what is known as a ‘food desert,’ which is a town that does not have access to more traditional grocery stores.”
Located close to a military base, the 4,200-square-foot inaugural Allsup’s Market opened its doors to the community on Jan. 19. The store’s interior is demonstrably different from a typical Allsup’s store:
- The left side of the store features 6-foot-tall grocery shelving and more than 1,000 grocery SKUs, in addition to an extensive fresh meat section, and greatly expanded frozen food and fresh produce sections. Customers can find staples such as butter, eggs and Allsup’s branded milk in the fresh produce section.
- The right side of the store incorporates lower shelving, which is stocked with traditional c-store fare, such as snacks, candy, and health and beauty items.
- The center of the store houses the checkout counter, along with the staging and execution for Allsup’s world-famous burrito and other freshly prepared foodservice items.
The fresh hot food platform at Allsup’s Market is identical to that of the chain’s other stores. It is comprised of burritos, chimichangas, deep-fried pizza, and other signature items. In addition, a fresh cold case holds grab-and-go sandwiches, salads and wraps.
“Our aim with Allsup’s Market is to become our customers’ community store of choice for not only convenience items and fuel, but for fresh groceries, fresh meat and quality food as well,” said Allsup.
Since acquiring Allsup’s, Yesway has been actively involved in integrating the two chains from technological, operational, merchandising and marketing perspectives while, at the same time, evaluating all the stores to identify prime candidates for improvements or concept changes.
Based on the evaluation process, the company has laid out plans to:
- Complete 42 raze-and-rebuilds or major remodels of existing Allsup’s and Yesway stores and truck stops;
- Convert several Yesway stores in Texas and New Mexico to the Allsup’s brand;
- Make select upgrades to 52 existing Allsup’s stores;
- Roll out the Allsup’s foodservice platform to existing Yesway stores; and
- Expand the Allsup’s Market concept to other food desert communities.
Additionally, Allsup’s plans to roll out a new loyalty program and mobile app later this year.
“We are currently evaluating the efficacy of the concept and looking to make improvements based on the things we are learning, with the goal to expand to other food desert locations over the next several years. We also operate two Yesway Marketplace stores in South Dakota that cater to grocery and convenience shoppers,” Yesway CEO and Chairman Thomas Nicholas Trkla told Convenience Store News. “We have identified numerous other locations and communities in our portfolio that we believe would benefit greatly from an Allsup’s Market store. We have great things planned for Yesway and Allsup’s in the coming years, and the Allsup’s Market is just one of several ideas you should expect to see in the near future.”