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Space Age Travel Center’s Focus on Food and Cleanliness Keeps Customers Coming Back

Posted in: Truckstop Travels

Editor's note: Darren Schulte, NATSO vice president of membership, frequently visits NATSO members to review their locations and offers impactful merchandising and operations improvements. Contact Schulte at dschulte@natso.com or (915) 526-5820 to learn more about the costs and details of this service.

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Space Age Travel Center, which is located off of Interstate 84 in Hermiston, Oregon, welcomes customers in with its excellent design, thorough offerings, and bright, open layout. I visited the location a little over a year ago, but it is always great to return to a location to see what is new.

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Food is a top priority for locals as well as drivers, and Space Age Travel Center is full of great food. They have a comprehensive roller-grill program, a section of grab-and-heat items, and a big walk-around cooler and several modern fixtures for cold grab-n-go items, such as sandwiches, fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese and granola. 

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There is an A&W attached to the travel center. While I was there, they had National A&W Root Beer Float Day. Customers could enjoy a free float on the house for a set time period.

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Space Age has focused on its coffee program, emphasizing its Coffee Planet brand. They use a coffee-on-demand system that gives customers a perfect cup every time.

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They have an awesome donut program. The donuts are huge, and they are brought in daily fresh. At times Space Age has long lines of customers waiting for them.

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During a remodel a few years ago, Space Age Travel Center put in new Wi-Fi stations on both the gas and diesel side. In addition to the free Wi-Fi, the stations offer places for customers to plug in their cell phones and laptops. Customers stay a little longer so they can sit and charge, which means there is more time to sell them something. 

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There is signage throughout the location that helps customers find what they are looking for and makes them aware of all of the location’s offerings. 

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This location also excels with merchandising. The shelves are full, and Space Age does a great job with market price retailing. Don Nelson, the general manager, does an exceptional job. He is a great operator who knows his numbers and, equally important, his customers. The location’s management has really focused on keeping the facility clean and uncluttered and making it easy-to-shop, and their efforts are continuing to pay off. 

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/// Did you know most weeks can find Darren Schulte, NATSO's Vice President of Membership, visiting a NATSO member truckstop location, spending three to four days, using his merchandising and operations expertise to help them grow their business? Learn about NATSO’s Profitable Retail Review program here.

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Photos Credit: Darren Schulte/NATSO

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About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.