In an area where business is still done with a handshake, c-store chain Corner Store brings customer service to a new level while offering a well-known, proprietary foodservice program to Seminole, Texas. With a brand-new loyalty program, customers can find deals and discounts on Corner Store products with a physical rewards card.
Corner Store began in 2017 as a little mom-and-pop shop. But, over the years, it has expanded across the community. Today, the chain operates two c-stores and one travel center in the Seminole area.
“When they bought it, it was just a store and a grill; it didn’t have the fuel islands. They added fuel islands the following year, in 2018, so that’s when it became a convenience/grocery store and grill,” said Becka Friessen, marketing director of Corner Store.
Shortly after purchasing the first location, Owners Bobby and Yolanda Teichroeb decided to build two new stores to expand their footprint in the community where they were already established.
“The second location was built from the ground up, and we opened in 2020,” continued Friessen. “And then our third location — which is our biggest one yet — that’s our 24-hour travel center, and that one we opened earlier this year in March.”
The chain is now partnered with Valero as its fuel distributor at all three locations.
When it comes to the design of the stores, each site has a standard appearance.
“The color scheme is very neutral. Our first two locations had a very similar look. The travel center has a more modern and industrial look from the outside,” explained Friessen.
Each location also features a signature art piece containing a dusky brown image of an oil pump with cattle in the background. The piece is a way for the chain to pay homage to the history of Texas and the influence the oil industry has had on the area.
Foodservice is one aspect of Corner Store that is driving sales and giving the chain an advantage in the competitive market.
Friessen noted that in the month of June, the Corner Store travel center location alone sold over 2,000 breakfast burritos and 996 hamburgers.
“We are locally known for our amazing hamburgers and breakfast burritos,” she said. “And so, we are super busy as far as food services go and definitely very popular (for the) items on our menu.”
Each store features a proprietary foodservice program, without having to partner with any chains or food distributors.
On top of having a well-known, popular menu, the travel center location features an open, outdoor dining area for customers to enjoy a variety of Corner Store products.
In July of this year, the chain launched its loyalty program that offers customers deals and offerings for in-store purchases. Keeping with the brand’s theme of business the old-fashioned way, customers can take advantage of the loyalty program with the use of a physical rewards card.
To make transactions at the register as easy as possible, customers can link their rewards card to a phone number so that they do not need to have their card on them when making purchases.
Friessen noted that this gives store regulars the chance to connect with employees and experience the hands-on customer service that Corner Store strives for.
“When our customers come in, they prefer to have that one-on-one conversation with our cashiers,” said Friessen. “They make deals with handshakes. (There are) still very personal relationships.”
Operating As An Independent Chain
In the extremely competitive world of c-stores, being a small, independent chain can come with its challenges. Friessen noted that one of these challenges is their relationship with suppliers.
“It seems we’re more at the bottom of the supplier list. When it comes to inventory and stuff, we have a little bit of a harder time getting our hands on inventory and keeping our shelves stocked,” she said.
However, with these challenges come certain advantages for the smaller chains. While operating three stores, Corner Store employees are still able to maintain relationships with customers and engage actively in the Seminole community.
Something that the brand prides itself on is its relationships with customers and its friendly, welcoming customer service. Friessen noted that on top of the exceptional customer service, each store stays well-stocked and extremely clean.
“That is our mission statement; in the area, we are the cleanest, most organized store, and we also have the most well-kept and stocked store, and the friendliest staff. We really pride ourselves on that,” said Friessen.
As of now, Corner Store does not have concrete plans for expansion, but the chain is always looking to build upon its footprint in Texas.
“We’re scoping a couple of locations also in the Texas area. We don’t have anything for sure yet, but there’s a couple of different locations we’re looking at. But nothing set in stone or anything that we can count on just yet,” Friessen noted.
When asked about the company’s goals for the future, Friessen mentioned that there are always improvements that can be made on existing initiatives.
“(Our goals are to) make everything we are already doing even better. Like I said, we pride ourselves on the services we offer, and we’re always open to the idea of making a good thing better and greater,” said Friessen.