LAS VEGAS—The “C” in c-store stands for convenience. But smart retailers know it stands for something else as well: community.
Kicking off day three of the NACS Show, incoming NACS Chair Don Rhoads, president and CEO of The Convenience Group, said stores need to go beyond products, pricing and customer service to provide value to their communities.
“It’s not enough,” he said. “Value is important, and that 25-minute drive to Walmart is becoming more attractive. We need to continue to showcase our value, and we need to be engaged in our communities.”
Convenience stores, Rhoads said, serve three communities. One is the society in which they play a big role, shown in the $1 billion dollars c-stores contribute to charity each year. The second is the people that make the stores work. The third is the industry community.
“I can control what happens inside my four walls—the products we sell, how they’re priced, our customer service and how we react with our community,” he said. “But I can’t control what’s happening in our economy and in our regulatory environment. This is where NACS comes in.”
Rhoads wasn’t the only one who had something to say about community. The day’s keynote speaker was Jake Wood, founder of Team Rubicon, a disaster response organization that has helped thousands of people in communities around the world in response to earthquakes, floods and even the pandemic.
Wood, a former Marine with combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, said life comes down to a series of moments and decisions.
“These moments that we approach, some of them we know are moments of consequence,” he said. “Some of them we don’t realize them for the moments they are until we’re well beyond them, and we can reflect back with the luxury of time and perspective and see those moments for what they were.”
Wood started Team Rubicon in 2010 in response to the devastation he saw on the news as a result of the earthquake in Haiti. The group now has 150,000 volunteers in the U.S. and Canada who respond to hundreds of disasters in communities across the globe.
Some of the moments that can change everything will catch us by surprise, Wood said, but in other moments you might realize you are in the right place at the right time.
“Every once in a while, you find yourself facing a moment,” he said, “and you realize, hey, this moment might be terrifying, this moment might seem a little overwhelming, but this was a moment we’ve been preparing for our entire existence.”
Wood urged convenience retailers to “Think about the moments and decisions you face every day. I challenge you to make that difference,” Wood said.