Monday, August 20, 2012

Next Generation C-Store Progress + New Competition?

Atlanta-based RaceTrac and Tulsa,Oklahoma-based QuikTrip are both adding new, next genration locations in the metro area. 

RaceTrac, which had a 75 year head start building out its network of locations in Atlanta, is finally getting closer to the prized ITP locations that QT has monopolized for years.  More after the jump.

Next Generation RaceTrac
I visted a new RaceTrac in Acworth this past January and then a new QuikTrip in Doraville this past April.  Both stores offer a wider variety of food options than their typical respective stores, and as a result, are larger in square footage.  QuikTrip offers soft serve ice cream, whereas RaceTrac offers a frozen yogurt product from Portland-based YoCream (a division of  Dannon), the same company that supplies Yogli Mogli and Menchie's, among others.  Both stores feature various coffee options and an enhanced coffee station for add-ins. Both stores also offer a wider variety of food options such as sandwiches and pizzas.  I wouldn't say there is a clear winner between the two, but they sure to make it tough on BP and others that have stumbled with their food options. 

BP's Wild Bean Cafe/BP Connect concepts were removed from all metro area locations in early 2008, and replaced with the ampm branding.  Ampm was started in early 1970 in California and was brought to Atlanta by way of eventual owner BP. BP and Shell are among the largest multi-national oil companies represented in Atlanta. 

In April, RaceTrac opened another new location, this on the East West Connector, not far from the company's Cumberland headquarters.  Another location, planned for Spring Road and said to be the company's flagship, is still in limbo, pending neighborhood approval. 

QuikTrip, meanwhile, opened new locations in Suwanee and Doraville and has others in development, including one in College Park and another at Clairmont and Briarcliff Roads. 

RaceTrac is fast at work expanding it metro presence with the (planned) additions of a new location at Northlake Parkway and Lawrenceville Highway and another on Lawrenceville Highway near North DeKalb Mall. The location near Northlake Parkway just started to show signs of progress, evidenced by the fact that the two existing structures (a former Pike Family Nurseries and Starvin Marvin gas station) were both demolished.  A RaceTrac representative tells me the new location is currently scheduled to open November 21st.

The proposed location near North DeKalb Mall, on the other hand, is being met with fierce neighborhood opposition.  Many neighbors are calling on RaceTrac to rethink their placement and look elsewhere for a new location.  Interestingly, one location many neighbors have suggested is a former Shoney's restaurant site that burned down a few years ago.  RaceTrac is building another new location on Wesley Chapel Road in Decatur on the site of a former Shoney's along with an adjacent parcel, something the Lawrenceville Highway location does not offer.  

Both proposed RaceTrac locations on Lawrenceville Highway are basically across the street from existing QuikTrip locations. The Northlake Parkway location is making use of dilapidated structures on commercial land, whereas the North DeKalb parcel is currently just an empty piece of greenspace, close to single family homes. 

QT is well underway with its new 16-pump Gen 3 location at the corner of Briarcliff and Clairmont Roads, just off I-85.  The new QT is opening on land previously home to a rundown grocery store most recently known as Food Universe.  Currently, I'm told QT hopes to have it's new location open by late September. 

Gen 3 QuikTrip
While RaceTrac and QuikTrip duke it out in Atlanta for petroleum powerhouse, two noteworthy competitors are getting closer to (a possible) entry into Georgia.

Altoona, Pennsylvania-based Sheetz and Wawa, Pennsylvania-based Wawa are both expanding further south, adding new locations in North Carolina and Florida respectively. 

Bob Sheetz founded Sheetz in 1952 and the chain is still owned and operated by the Sheetz family but its store count has ballooned to over 450 locations across six states. 

Grahame Wood founded Wawa in 1964 and today the company has nearly 600 locations across five states.  The company once had locations in New York and Connecticut but abandoned those markets in the late 90s, citing their overly competitive landscape.

Like QuikTrip and RaceTrac, and even Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, both Sheetz and Wawa are privately owned and both still have original founding family members involved in the business.

Where is your favorite place to fill up?  Do you go out of your way to go to a certain brand or a certain location?  Do you think WaWa and Sheetz will enter Atlanta sooner rather than later? 

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Anonymous said...

we better get sheetz. my friend up near pittsburgh is always telling me about the sandwiches in the same way people from florida speak of publix subs.

Anonymous said...

Bring back the Golden Pantry.

alienchow said...

The Spring Rd RaceTrac has been under construction for a couple of months now.

Anonymous said...

The Spring Rd RaceTrac is being built as we speak. It looks to be huge.

Anonymous said...

QuikTrip is probably one of the best operators in the entire retail space right now. Just top shelf from top to bottom.

Where they really excel and have excelled for a long time is their site selection. They have some secret sauce to determine what exact locations are going produce their desired results.

And from what I've seen on the inside, they have great IT to help manage their business in a very efficient manner.

Heard a story once of them basically telling Budweiser to "go to hell" ... weren't getting the pricing they wanted from Bud. So they just pulled every Bud product from every store they had in the St. Louis area ... within days Bud relented and QT got the price they wanted. Impressive.

Clean, well run, take care of their employees.

SB said...

Great intel Eli. Nice reporting. Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

RaceTrac will have a new location under development on Powers Ferry Road on the site of the old TGI Friday's restaurant. The company recently gainted approval from Cobb County for zoning variances on the site.

Anonymous said...

Well its pretty simple to me, everytime a new QT or RaceTrac opens up somewhere, 3 independent gas stations go out of business. In 3 years the only thing available in Atlanta will be RaceTrac and QuikTrips, at this point they will raise their gas prices because of a lack of competition. Hope all is happy!!!!

Anonymous said...

that's not true ... plenty of independent operators. One of the operators owns 100+ stations already.

QT doesn't want to be everywhere, they just want to be in the "best locations" everywhere:)

and btw, QT typically loses $.01-02 per gallon of gas. They do this and make up for it on the inside with cokes, candy and whatnot. This has been another one of their trademarks. They will outcompete anyone on price of gas.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say, I am not sure the independent gas stations would be much of a loss. At night I will drive past 3 dicey "inie" places to get to a well lit QT, where the gas is cheaper and I don't have to keep an eye on the random skells loitering outside.

Anonymous said...

Considering RaceTrac is an Atlanta based company, you should hope it does well. And by independent gas station, do you mean a run down Shell or Texaco that charges 30 cents more per gallon than a RT or QT? There's a Texaco down the road from this new RT that is currently $3.89. The RT on Delk: $3.55. Those independent gast stations don't sound like a good deal to me. No thanks. I'll let RT & QT take over Atlanta. And they won't jack up the prices because their profit is on the stuff inside the store, not at the gas pumps. Raise prices at the pump, people don't come inside.

TheJohnP said...

My wife lived up in Virginia for a long time and we went up there and she mentioned needed to go to a Wawa and I thought she was talking crazy til we pulled up to the station.

Competition is always healthy so wish them the best. I still long to see 7-11 make a comeback in Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

"everytime a new QT or RaceTrac opens up somewhere, 3 independent gas stations go out of business."

QT, please come to Cheshire Bridge and put all of the sketchy Citgo gas stations/hooker hangouts out of business. This is one type of "independent" business we don't need. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Worked in Philly for several years and must say WAWA is is fantastic! It became a ritual.

7-11 recently re-entered the North Carolina area (Charlotte) so perhaps they are making their way further south.

Agree with Anon on Chesire Bridge. The RT on Hollowell (Bankhead) was a very welcome addition and would love to see them or QT take it further down to Cascade where gas prices seem higher than anywhere in the city between the indie BP and Shell across from each other.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that RT decided on the Lville Hwy/Nlake Pkwy location in Tucker, directly across from the existing QT. On the one hand I'm surprised they didn't choose a spot at 285/Lville Hwy just a mile down the road. With only one other small gas station at that exit on 285 I would think RT could do well there. However, that intersection is just pathetic. The state goes and widens Lville Hwy across 285 and for what? The four motels and hotels that serve the drug addicts and prostitutes that ply their trades there. Unfortunately I guess that's why RT would stay away from that spot.

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