Attendees at NATSO Connect 2023 got a first-hand look at three best-in-class locations in the Dallas area and walked away with new insights and ideas.
Here are six fun takeaways from the tour.
A Focus on Frozen: The frozen margarita got its start in Texas, but that isn’t the only frozen drink popular with shoppers in the state. The QuikTrip located at I-35 and State Highway 114 offers 10 smoothie flavors and 12 flavors on its Freezoni slushy machines. During a guided tour of the location, Chad Stanford, vice president of sales, marketing and distribution for QuikTrip, said a bit of mixology goes on with customers mixing and matching flavors to create unique blends.
Make it Fast: Stanford said speed is important, and QuikTrip’s strategy is all about catering to a driver that is in a hurry. “That’s what we’re good at and that is where we focus,” he said. Grab-and-go offerings, a point-of-sale order screen and the store’s design all help keep customers moving.
Dare to be Different: Every Victron Energy’s Texas Best Smokehouse store is custom-made based on the community where it is located. “We take pride in doing something different,” said Mohamed Sharaf, vice president of Victron Energy, who took attendees on a tour of the company’s location in Denison. That 15,500-square-foot location was the first truckstop to feature a Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, which is a nice complement to the location’s classic barbeque offerings and an Einstein’s Bagels. The Denison store is located right in front of Denison high school, and the location’s customers are about 75% locals and families and 25% professional drivers.
Embrace the Exotic: Most truckstops and travel centers offer beef jerky, but not many also offer kangaroo, alligator and python jerky. Victron Energy’s Texas Best Smokehouse has a wide range of exotic jerky, which is popular with four-wheel traffic and professional drivers. The company is also the largest exotic meat manufacturer in the state.
Become a Destination: Attendees also took part in a self-guided tour of Buc-ee’s, which has made a name for itself as a must-stop location. As one Google reviewer said, “Buc-ee’s is a mash up of am/pm, 7-11, Costco and Wal-Mart.” The Fort Worth location, which was on the NATSO 2023 Retail Tour, offers a baked goods counter that would rival the fanciest bakery, an extensive fudge counter and bulk jerky. Employees kept a hot-grab-and-go station well stocked, and the location sells a wide variety of food offerings, candies, snacks, and bottled and fountain beverages, but it may be best known for its shopping. It offers everything from coolers and fishing gear to doormats and home décor.
Private Labeling is Powerful: Buc-ee’s has used private labeling to help promote its brand. Popcorn, nuts, loaves of bread and cookies are just some of the items that boast the Buc-ee’s private label. Private labeling has several benefits, including greater control in every aspect, from packaging and design to pricing, and better margins. It can also make items an attractive option for those looking for a souvenir to take home.
Don’t miss out on the engaging learning opportunities NATSO and the NATSO Foundation offer as part of NATSO Connect. Save the date for NATSO Connect 2024, February 18-22, at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.
// This article was created for Stop Watch magazine, the magazine of the NATSO Foundation. The NATSO Foundation is the research, education and public outreach subsidiary of NATSO, Inc. The NATSO Foundation provides programs and products aimed at strengthening travel plazas’ ability to meet the needs of the traveling public through improved operational performance and business planning. Visit www.natsofoundation.org for more information. (Donate to the NATSO Foundation here.)
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