At PCT, Killian has a specially designated area where she sells seasonal items. There are specialty chocolates at holiday time, school supplies when school opens, and, during cold and flu season, she stocks tissues, cold medicine, playing cards, hot tea and soups.
What's new in the neighborhood? When the fitness center in her c-store building underwent a renovation, Killian added fitness drinks and nutrition bars and even purchased a small selection of weight-lifting gloves and belts.
“We are hearing a lot about organic food here in the West,” says Barber. “One of the problems is you have to price it fairly high and that affects volume. We have tested items we just couldn't carry because the price would have had to be set too high.”
“We're looking at organic produce and are willing to try but we haven't worked it out yet,” says URI's Valliere.
“At one time, we had two endcaps, but we added eight feet of gondola,” says Barber. “It's still a very big category and still doing well but we've cut back to just the eight-foot gondola.”
“We tried vitamin-enhanced waters when they were fairly new — I had seen them at a trade show — and they didn't sell so we pulled them out,” says Barber. “Two years later, the manufacturer said he wanted to try them again and this time they took off and ran.” At one point, SDSU's largest store had one door of water and three of soft drinks. They then changed doors to two and two, and now there are three doors of waters, including the campus' own brand—Aztec Water—and one of soft drinks.
At URI, Valliere rents out space to vendors in the building lobby outside the c-store. Vendors pay $55 for an eight-hour rental and the range of items includes jewelry, purses, clothing and electronics. At SDSU, Witchell invites vendors in to do product sampling. “We set up two full tables in front of the main c-store and we make in-house coupons for them to hand out. They cover all categories: drinks, chips, candies, sandwiches.”
PCT's Killian likes to stock mini candy bars, mints and individually wrapped pieces of candy around the cash register sales to capture the change.