Six years after acquiring the Rebel convenience store brand, Upland, Calif.-based Anabi Oil is embarking on an ambitious remodel, with plans to revamp half of its 400-plus convenience stores in California and Nevada in under five years, bringing them under a refreshed Rebel design. Simultaneously, it’s preparing to expand its footprint outside of California and Nevada to the Midwest and East Coast.
This summer, Rebel is set to introduce a mobile app featuring its new Rebel Coin loyalty program, as well as order-ahead and delivery options in-app.
What’s more, Anabi Oil is strategizing new drive-through stores and autonomous-checkout locations, all while growing its proprietary pizza and taco foodservice offerings, which customers can customize to their specifications.
How It All Began
Anabi Oil began in 1991, when Founder Sam Anabi opened his first gas station in Baldwin Park, Calif. In 1995, Sam married Rene Anabi, who became a co-owner and vice president in the business. Over the years, the company grew its footprint across California. In 2010, Anabi Oil became a Shell wholesaler, and today the company is one of the largest Shell-branded fuel distributors in California.
By 2015, Anabi Oil had grown via acquisitions to more than 220 sites in California when it announced it was purchasing the Rebel convenience stores brand from Rebel Oil. The acquisition included 60 Las Vegas-based Rebel c-stores. Anabi Oil set its sights on creating an updated brand design for the Rebel stores with plans to extend the new branding to its existing locations in California.
The company partnered with design firm Paragon Solutions to craft the refreshed brand design for the Rebel chain, selecting an existing Food Mart in San Dimas, Calif., as the first site to be remodeled with the new Rebel image. The chain razed and rebuilt the San Dimas location, which opened its doors in August 2019, debuting the new Rebel brand to the public.
To date, three Las Vegas stores and two California sites have been remodeled under the new Rebel design, with five more Las Vegas sites currently under renovation. Anabi plans to convert all existing California sites to the new Rebel design by the end of 2022. Updated Rebel locations measure between 2,000-5,000 square feet.
“Our mission is that we want to embody spontaneity, growth and freedom to express your true self. This is what we’re committed to doing in all the communities that we serve,” said Rene Anabi.
The mission statement led to the chain’s new tagline, “Your store, your way,” which is carried into the external and internal designs, as well as Rebel’s approach to foodservice.
Under the new design, the exterior of the store features the name Rebel in large white letters against a gray background and stone façade, and all buildings feature the “Your store, your way” slogan on the outside of the building. Some sites will feature the Rebel logo, or the message “You’ll love R tacos” or “You’ll love R pizza” depending on the food offering available.
The forecourt includes LED lighting under the canopy and all new fuel dispensers, plus at least two electric vehicle charging stations at each new site, as well as alternative fueling options, such as racing fuel, E85 and hydrogen.
Locations fly a range of gas flags, including Shell, Mobil, Rebel fuel, Sunoco and 76. Rebel is also rebranding its 50-plus car washes to the Rebel Wash banner.
Inside, an energizing lime-green color appears throughout the store on signage and design elements. The words “Beer Hive” welcome customers to the beer cave, while a lime-green geometric design extended from the ceiling highlights the coffee bar area. The open concept and bright LED lighting combined with the high ceilings provide a spacious, clean and welcoming appearance.
A major goal in the design was creating a one-stop shop by extending the traditional c-store offering to include an array of grocery store items, plus an extensive beer cave offering that includes a selection of craft beer as well as champagne and high-end wine.
“Instead of a four-pack of eggs, we wanted to offer a dozen so that customers can eliminate a stop at the grocery market on their way home,” Anabi said. “We offer full gallons of milk, cases of water, full-sized toiletry items, hot food for dinner and nitro cold-brew coffee for your morning commute.”
Rebel also features a dedicated organic grocery aisle and is increasing its offering of better-for-you products.
Food is a destination point in the new design. Rebel features two different proprietary food concepts — an unbranded taco bar or a Pinsa Pizza program, depending on location. Both programs are build-your-own concepts using fresh ingredients, further tying into the slogan “Your store, your way.” The pizza program is named “Pinsa” after the type of crust used for the pizza. A 12-inch Pinsa Oval Crust Pizza is just $8.95, and customers can select from a range of sauces and toppings.
The coffee section features an extensive menu, including the aforementioned nitro cold-brew coffee on draft, as well as made-to-order drip coffee, hot and iced options and bean-to-cup coffee dispensers. Currently, about half of the company’s stores feature the extended coffee section. Customers can also refresh with made-to-order milkshakes, selecting from more than 10 ice cream flavors.
And shoppers can have it all delivered right to their front doors.
“Delivery is going to be our main focus,” Anabi said. “We wanted to offer curbside pickup for all the stores, and we’re also working with (third-party) delivery programs. All our stores are either on Uber Eats, Postmates, Grubhub or DoorDash. We wanted to provide our customers different options to get what they want in the most convenient way.”
Rebel also features a range of private-label products, such as bottled water and beef jerky. Proceeds from Rebel’s private-label products benefit charities, including the Anabi Family Foundation, a not-for-profit, section 501(c)(3) corporation the company began 13 years ago, which benefits local charities.
Embracing New Technology
In Q2, Rebel is launching its proprietary Rebel Coin loyalty program and mobile app. The points-based loyalty program allows members to earn points for each dollar they spend inside the store or at the pump. Points can then be redeemed for a wide variety of products. Customers can sign up for the loyalty program through the mobile app using their phone number.
Inside the Rebel app, customers will also be able to place mobile orders for pickup or delivery. Through the mobile app, customers can pay for gas or groceries with Apple Pay or PayPal, and the chain expects to begin offering Venmo and Zelle as payment options by the end of Q3.
Self-checkout options are also on the schedule in the back half of 2021. Rebel is partnering with mobile app-based self-checkout company SKIP. It’s also adding self-checkout kiosks similar to those seen in grocery stores.
In Q3 of 2022, Rebel is introducing its first drive-through location at an existing Los Angeles-based Rebel convenience store, with plans to roll out a total of five drive-through sites, plus four additional fully autonomous stores throughout California, Las Vegas and Florida in the same quarter.
“To us, this is the future,” Anabi said. “We definitely want to attract the younger generation — the millennials — and we want to gear our stores toward that everyday commuter, who is in a rush. If we want to be there — if we want to be tech savvy — we need to be constantly innovating and creating different ideas for how we can bring consumers to our stores and get them out in a reasonable time. It’s all about speed, convenience and value to our customer base. And that’s what we’re really trying to grow on each day.”
As Rebel works to rebrand 200-plus locations to its new Rebel design in under five years, the 400-store chain is also looking to grow its fleet of convenience stores nationally.
“We’re going to expand our Rebel brand outside Nevada and outside California,” Anabi said.
And the chain isn’t restricting its footprint to the Western U.S.
“We are also planning acquisitions on the East Coast and also in the Midwest,” she noted.
Anabi explained that Rebel is focused on growing both organically as well as through new acquisitions. “We’re constantly growing,” she said. “Almost every year, we bring on anywhere from 50 to 100 new sites. So, we are focused on expansion.”