Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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My #CRU24 Road Trip

by Staff

Photograph by CSP Staff

CSPs Convenience Retailing University (CRU) in Nashville, Tennessee, last week offered three days of insights, ideas and networking for those in the convenience-store industry.

As someone new to covering the convenience-store channel (I used to cover the grocery channel), I figured the most useful way to arrive in Nashville was to hit the road and stop at a handful of convenience stores along the way. So here are a few highlights of my #CRU24 road trip.

Nice to meet you

Fact. You never know who you will meet at a convenience store. While traveling down to Nashville, my first stop was in Pontiac, Illinois, to peek inside Wally’s. And not only did the super travel center brand not disappoint, but as I was admiring the massive offerings, I had the pleasure of unexpectedly meeting Andy Strom, chief experience officer at Wally’s. Thanks to the “Home of the Great American Road Trip” I made a new connection in the convenience-store world.

Nothing but blue skies … and pizza

While listening to my #CRU24 playlist, which yes did include Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car, I knew I needed to enjoy a slice of Casey’s pizza. With the hood of my rental car as my table, and nothing but blue skies above, Casey’s, which touts itself as the fifth-largest pizza chain in the country, gained another follower. With lunch satisfied in Arcola, Illinois, Nashville was soon on the horizon.

Childhood memories

As the sun began to set, I noticed my next exit included a more than 80-year-old family business known for its iconic roadside locations and for its pecan log rolls. Yep, Stuckey’s in Vienna, Illinois, was my last stop before Nashville. As I filled the tank, a flood of childhood memories flashed before me, including the times my siblings and I scrambling to open the doors of our yellow station wagon with wood paneling to get out and explore the iconic convenience store. There was always pushing and yelling to get the doors open to rush inside. This time, there was no pushing or yelling, but I would not be truthful if I did not say I hurried inside to check out the offerings.

Hello Nashville

Attending my first Convenience Retailing University (CRU) was an amazing experience. Everyone was so generous with their insight and wisdom to this first-time attendee.

Heading home

CSP’s Senior Editor Hannah Hammond suggested I check out Twice Daily on my way out of Nashville, and I am glad she did. With its upgraded in-store food experience, Twice Daily made fueling up my stomach for the ride home delicious. With this being my first time visiting, I know there will be a second visit when the opportunity presents itself.

Last stop

For anyone driving, the ride home always goes quicker. The last stop I made was at Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores. With the last leg of my trip edging closer to home, there was comfort in stopping at Love’s. I spent a couple of extra minutes talking with the employee about the weather. I did not catch her name, but I thanked her twice. One for the change and the other for the small conversation to break up the monotony of driving.

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