Started in 2016 as a little country store in Slade, Ky., family-owned and -operated Go Time c-stores still give customers a personal, small-town feel throughout its seven locations in Kentucky, with an eighth site soon to come and a ninth store in the works for 2023. As foodservice flourishes throughout its stores, customers can also find convenient drive-throughs at almost all locations.
Go Time got its start when owners Kim King and Scott King bought their first store in Slade, Ky., near Natural Bridge State Resort Park.
“We’re partners by day and husband and wife by night,” said Kim King.
Growing up in the retail world, Kim always had hopes to break off on her own and build something in the industry.
“My dream was to always have my own convenience store, a brand-new store. So, we went to the Natural Bridge Slade area,” she said. “We bought a little old wood store down there, tore it down and built our first store there and opened it in March of 2016.”
Prior to this, Kim had over 20 years of c-store experience. Out of college, Kim worked for Fill Zone, which then was bought by Coleman Oil. After working there for a few years, Coleman Oil filed for bankruptcy, and Kim decided to use her time to take college classes and prepare for her future as a business owner.
Soon after, the Go Time brand began, with its roots in a little wooden country store in Slade, Ky.
Go Time Today
Today, Go Time operates seven locations throughout Kentucky with a new location set to open later this month in Corbin, Ky., and another set to open in Hazard, Ky., next year.
Kim and Scott, along with their daughter Lacey Dixon, who serves as marketing director, give much of the credit of their brand’s success to their employees.
“I have some wonderful people. I mean, my company wouldn’t be successful as we are today if it wasn’t for the people,” said Kim King.
As the chain continues to grow, the stores follow suit.
“They just kind of keep getting a little bit bigger, and I don’t know, I kind of feel like we get a little bit better with each design as we go,” said Scott King.
The first Go Time store stood at 3,000 square feet, and its upcoming site will measure 8,000 square feet.
Featuring the chain’s signature orange and blue colors, and made of the same brick, concrete and tile, the stores sport a uniform look. Each one boasts a tower at the entrance with the Go Time sign overhead.
“We have center islands for the coffee bar, and then along the walls in the stores Kim puts her fountains and her ICEE machines, freeze machines and ice cream machines, things like that,” Scott King said.
Scott noted that all the stores are very similar, but are tweaked with each design, making the Corbin location the most up to date.
When it comes to fuel sales, Go Time buys and sells independently.
“I still set my fuel prices daily. We dispatch the trucks. … We haul our own fuel. We bought (a fuel distribution company) about two years ago and that was a very smart decision on our part,” Kim King said. “We’re not branded, none of my stations are branded, so pulling our own fuel was just a big benefit for our company.”
One key feature for Go Time is its ample foodservice selection. Ranging from Little Caesar’s and Hunt Brothers Pizza to Chester’s Chicken and Moe’s, customers can find a wide array of offerings at the stores.
In addition to these foodservice options, the stores also feature proprietary full delis with Go Time-
“We do hamburgers, we do chicken, we do a little bit of everything,” said Kim King. “We average around $50,000 or better a month in just our foodservice.”
Kim also noted that the addition of Chester’s Chicken to one of the stores nearly tripled the sales for that
Go Time was also the site of the first Little Caesar’s Express unit in Kentucky, which has been a staple in multiple Go Time locations.
“Four of our locations have Little Caesar’s Express in them, and we do really well with them. Teaming up with them was something good for us,” said Kim King.
The chain also offers Hunt Brothers Pizza at the stores that do not have Little Caesar’s Express units. Kim and Scott run the programs for each of these stores the way that they were taught, and they don’t vary from each brand’s operational standards or practices.
Go Time also offers a loyalty program that features deals on in-store products, gas and other products in the Go Time catalog.
“We’ve had our loyalty program since 2018, and we have a point-based system. For every dollar customers buy in the store, they get so many points,” explained Dixon. “And we have a coupon program where they can cash their points in for coupons and purchase stuff in
In addition to the loyalty program, the chain offers deals through its mobile app. These offerings, among other factors, have kept in-store sales steady during an unpredictable time for c-store retailers. The chain also provides seasonal promotions that are geared toward Go Time customers.
“Right now, through our loyalty program, we’re doing a promotion with kayaks and we’re going to be giving away 14 kayaks in just a few days,” she said. “So, we try to do extra stuff with the loyalty to really promote it with our customers.”
Another aspect of the stores that differentiates the chain from others is the option for drive-through convenience, which is available at every Go Time store, except for one.
“We decided a long time ago that if you’ve got two kids in the car, it’s a lot easier to go through a drive-through than to try to haul them up in the stores,” Kim King said.
This is one example of the community-minded thinking that comes from the owners and employees of Go Time. Even as it has grown, the brand has managed to maintain its personal, small-town feel across all stores.
As the chain prepares to open its eighth location in late August and ninth in 2023, Kim noted that it may be time to stop expanding after that.
“I feel like if we get too big, we can’t be as personable with (customers) as we are now,” said Kim King. “We take a lot of pride in what we do, and we care about our stores, we care about our employees and most of all, we care about the communities that we’re in.”