A produce display greets customers at the Forest Lakes, Va., store.
“You walk in and that’s the first thing you see,” Lowry said. “We want our customers to perceive these places as being fresh. We want to differentiate ourselves as much as possible from fast-food operations.”
Lowry said the company plans to introduce a foodservice concept called Market Express at eight of its nondeli locations before spring. The stores will not feature the gourmet foods that four of its stores offer but will sell products, including fresh-cut salads, that are “a cut above the simple wedge sandwiches found in typical C-stores,” he said.
Some C-stores place baskets of pumpkins at their stores’ entrances.
“They do more than just create sales,” Lenard said. “They can create perceptions.”
Baskets of fresh apples tell customers the stores are offering fresh and healthy foods, Lenard said.
“They’re more likely to go inside the store and not just pick up the apple but buy a sandwich as well,” he said.
Capitalizing on time-starved dual-income families who feel guilty about serving pizza too many times, the chain also provides home-meal replacements, Lowry said.
On Dec. 4, 7-Eleven introduced a line of fresh food products, including salads, to nearly 700 Southern Califor-nia stores. Nearly 90% of the chain’s stores now offer fresh foods, including bananas, apples and oranges.