Convenience Store News

FEB 2017

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20 Convenience Store News | FEBRUARY 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM SMALL OPERATOR store is also, literally, kept clean — "extraordinarily clean," Brown maintains. "You're going to buy food here, so everything is spotless and very ordered," he said. "All of these things together create an environment of less visual noise, so there's less urgency." And this is where Mini Mini's "calm convenience" comes in to play. However, the in-store music is intended to be upbeat in a way that makes customers feel they can take on the day. "We know we've done it right when we see people bobbing their head in the store while they shop. It all plays into a comfort level," Brown explained. Regarding pricing, Mini Mini aims to stick to flat pricing as much as it can — $2 instead of $1.99. The founders also designed it so that nothing in the store costs more than $25. Currently, there's a bottle of wine priced at $25, but most trios of snack foods — a sandwich, snack and drink — are purposely priced so that the combined cost is $10 or less. This was done so that customers could compare the prices to a gro- cery store where "you're looking at $15 to do that same thing," according to Brown. Grab-and-go food is mostly priced in the $5 range. This includes its popular guacamole packs, small con- tainers of the spread plus chips — similar to the hum- mus and pretzel packs that came on the scene a few years ago. Bags of chips can range from $1.50 to $5. STILL GOT THEIR DAY JOBS While minimum wages are raising across the country, Mini Mini from day one has believed in employee investment and the return you get from it. "A lot of people don't ask much of their convenience store staff, but we pay ours better than most shops do to secure a solid group of folks who are getting it without the aisles, shopping carts and parking-lot hassles of the large grocery stores where customers could typically find such an assortment. They started referring to their idea as "the c-store, refreshed." When that vision came to fruition and Mini Mini debuted a few months ago, customers discovered they could quickly choose from a dichotomy of options — the "classic" vs. the "rad," as Brown has relayed the approach to his staff. For instance, a "classic" option in the candy category is a Snickers bar, while a "rad" option is Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. Mini Mini has carried this "classic vs. rad" mer- chandising throughout the store, offering items cus- tomers know they love alongside options to try some- thing different. "We want to have options, but we also have to make sure our product bounce doesn't get too wacky, leaning toward one dietary option or being too healthy," acknowl- edged Brown. "We have Hostess doughnuts and Red Bull because when you're leaving a bar late at night, that's what you want from a c-store." Mini Mini has also introduced its customers to softer lighting, clean displays, custom shelving, and other "significant design elements" not typical of a c-store, Brown noted. The store utilizes colors of red, white and blue "that feel familiar, but are not [the] tradi- tional American tones," he added. This was the work of Aaron Draplin, another one of Mini Mini's founders and the mastermind behind its minimalist, less-is-more ambiance, which extends into signage and SKUs. Basically, there is a lack of signage, clutter and the proliferation of products found elsewhere in the con- venience channel. Brown puts the store's total SKU count at roughly 750. "We don't have every beer com- pany in the world, and we have Coke, but we don't have Pepsi," he said. EXTRAORDINARILY CLEAN Aside from keeping a "clean" product assortment, the Mini Mini's owners believe in a spotless environment for food sales. The store contains roughly 750 SKUs.

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