- Convenience store chain Alltown, which operates more than 70 stores in New England, has opened an Alltown Fresh market in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the company said in a press release. Alltown Fresh is a fresh convenience market and offers a range of fresh food, craft beer, bean-to-cup coffee, phone and electric vehicle charging stations, fuel pumps, pet relief areas and Wi-Fi. This is the second location for the banner, with two more openings planned this year.
- The new 4,800 square-foot Alltown Fresh market has an extensive food menu and an open grill for made-to-order meals including gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and organic options. Self-serve organic beverage stations and locally roasted coffee are available, as well as smoothies, artisan bakery items and local products sourced from the Plymouth area. The store is equipped with indoor and outdoor seating areas.
- Menu items such as avocado toast, specialty protein bowls and fresh-made sandwiches will feature all-organic produce, veggies roasted in-house and local ingredients. Alltown Fresh also carries a range of grab-and-go convenience items and healthy snack options for customers who are looking for food on the go. There will be 12 regular fueling pumps as well as three high-speed diesel fueling stations for 18-wheeler trucks.
The original convenience store model is quickly becoming a thing of the past, if Alltown's new fresh format is any indication. Convenience stores retain the advantage that they are, obviously, convenient and quick — and that is something many consumers want when it comes to food and grocery today. But shoppers are also looking for more interesting, better-for-you foods, and the era of gas station hot dogs and big bags of Cheetos is no longer relevant.
There are two significant changes happening in convenience stores right now. One is the push toward more tech-savvy stores, spurred by the advent of Amazon Go, which has many convenience stores rethinking how they operate. 7-11 has introduced scan-and-go technology in Dallas, with plans to expand it if it is successful.
The other big shift is a move toward healthier, fresher food and beverage offerings that far exceed the quality of traditional convenience store food. A recent convenience store study revealed that most people want high-quality, ready-to-eat food when they shop, and a growing number want healthier options. A 2018 study from the National Association of Convenience Stores found that 61% of convenience store operators reported sales gains in healthier fare, and also found that prepared foods such as salads and sandwiches are on the rise at convenience stores, with a 6.5% growth rate in fresh food options.
Convenience stores such as Sheetz and Wawa have been pioneers in providing made-to-order and healthy food options. Sheetz has been operating a full-service espresso bar for a few years now alongside made-to-order pizza, wings and wraps. Wawa's newest store in Philadelphia features fresh salads, hoagies and even a fresh bakery and dessert line. Kwik Trip has been recognized for its fresh produce offerings, and continues to expand its choices in its stores.
Alltown Fresh may be one of the first convenience stores to have craft beer and all-organic produce, and it's likely to stand out not only among other convenience stores but smaller format grocery stores that want to provide an easier shopping option as well. Alltown Fresh resembles a neighborhood grocery store with convenience store features, making it a notable competitor for both types of stores. The line between the two may continue to get blurrier as grocery stores scale down and specialize, and convenience stores move their focus to food.
The banner is likely to offer a far more memorable experience for customers than the average gas station or convenience store — even among those that have made improvements — and with the on-trend features it offers, it could become a format more people want to see expanded. There are plans for two more locations this year, and parent company Global Partners, which also owns Xtramart and Honey Farms convenience brands, should be prepared to respond to additional demand.