It is a common misconception that college c-stores have business models and strategies that mimic those of the large convenience store chains.
True, they often stock a similar SKU mix when it comes to categories like beverages, snacks and impulse-buy items. Also true: they typically cater to on the on-the-go customers for whom convenience is often the more important feature of the location.
But where campus c-stores differ from their commercial "on street" counterpoints is critical. That is, they are typically custom-designed to meet very specific needs of the host institution. Far from the "cookie cutter" model of national and regional c-store chains, they are often geared to solving one or more strategic needs of a college dining department or venue.
Each year, that difference is highly evident in the many entries to the NACUFS annual "Best of the Business" campus c-store competition.
In addition to providing for convenience, this year's winners also addressed such things as the need for extended hours (Syracuse University); turning an empty copy center into a revenue generator (U. of Northern Colorado); bringing foodservice to a large residence hall (U. of Dayton); providing catering and room service to a hotel in an historic building (U. of Akron); and significantly improving security (and profits) in an existing operation (Boise State University).
Judges for the 2012 competition included a team of students and campus c-store managers; Dean Wright, director of dining for Brigham Young University; John Lawn, chief editor of Food Management magazine; Lori Mason, director of Education for NACUFS; and Jason Gilbert, who represented "Best of the Business" program sponsor PepsiCo Foodservice.
See the winners
• New Store Design Innovation: Munchy Mart
• Merchandising in Retail Venue Award: The Emporium
• Updating Your Existing C-Store Award: South Campus Express
• The Hybrid C-Store Award: Zee's Quaker
• Retail Loss Prevention Practices Award: Bits N' Bytes C3