Davis Travel Center Sparks Conversation and Sales with Nostalgic Candy

When Betsy Decker spotted nostalgic candies in a local restaurant, she knew she wanted to add them to the product mix Davis Travel Center. As the receiv­ing manager at the location, Decker is always looking for new and innovative products. “I immediately thought this had a lot of room for growth. I started looking for sources to purchase this product and was disappointed to re­alize it wasn’t available on a local level through any of our current dis­tributors,” she said.

After searching online, Decker was able to find the products through a distribu­tor in New York. In 2010, she started small, purchasing five SKUs in her first order. “I immediately saw the potential in sales after putting it on the floor. In our first year we aver­aged approximately $1,300 a month in sales. After seeing how well it did on the front counter, I knew I wanted to feature these items on a freestand­ing display,” she said.

Once Decker found a display that would work well without taking up too much floor space, she began in­creasing the number of products she carried and saw sales multiply quick­ly. “We did this by increasing all the nostalgic items and by adding a kids' novelty section to the rack. By 2012 we had doubled our sales. And our sales continue to grow at a much faster rate than all other items in the store,” she said, adding that she is constantly looking to add more to the category.

But the racks are about more than just candy. They’re about memories. “The rack not only sells a lot of prod­uct for us, but it is a wonderful con­versation starter for most of our older customers,” Decker said, adding that many customers are surprised to see their childhood favorites all in one place. “They all seem to remember buying them as kids and many pur­chase them for that reason alone.”

Take a Trip Down Memory Lane
Nearly everyone has a favorite candy from their childhood. Here is a quick look at some of the top-selling products by decade.

The 1940s

  • Almond Joy
  • Bubble Gum Cigars
  • Bun Bars
  • Candy Cigarettes
  • Licorice Ropes and Twists

The 1960s

  • Lemonheads
  • Starburst
  • SweeTarts
  • Candy Buttons
  • Razzles

The 1950s

  • Nik L Nips
  • Candy Buttons
  • Candy Lipstick
  • Charleston Chew
  • Turkish Taffy

The 1970s

  • Bottlecaps
  • Blowpops
  • Freshen-up Bubblegum Gobstoppers
  • Laffy Taffy 

Share Your Stories With NATSO
Did you know that Deluxe Truck Stop hosted Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) or that Greater Chicago Truck Plaza won an award? How about that Sapp Bros. has added natural gas to one location and plans to add it to another? NATSO has featured these along with several other stories on independent operations in a variety of places. One common thread through these stories and this one on nostalgic candy is that they were all pitched to NATSO by the independent operator.

From Biz Brief to Stop Watch to the blog, NATSO is working to highlight the latest activities, best practices and innovative solutions independent operators are undertaking.

Sharing these stories helps demonstrate the important role independent truckstop and travel plaza operators play in their communities and along the nation’s highways. Moreover, the stories provide great publicity and recognition for your staff and your business, and they can help inspire fellow independents.

To submit a story to NATSO, email a press release, story idea or rough draft to editor@natso.com. We will take it from there. And, pictures are always appreciated. 

Mindy Long's photo

Mindy Long

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
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