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Some of the country's favorite and most profitable convenience store chains offer both great service and competitive prices
QT's store kitchens offer hungry travelers everything from sandwiches to cinnamon rolls.
Convenience stores started out providing the basics like milk and eggs from local farms. Over time, they grew into larger storefronts as more consumers drove cars and didn’t want to go to the grocery store to buy a few items.
If you need a gallon of milk or want a quick snack, you don’t have to drive far. Chain stores have lots of food, especially ready-to-eat items like hot dogs and ice cream. Most of these stores also sell gasoline and many offer other services too like movie rentals, ATMs and FedEx shipping.
Click here for the 10 Best Convenience Store Chains in America (Slideshow)
Sweltering on a hot day? Pick up a Slurpee at 7-Eleven.
Want to play the lotto? Buy a ticket at your local Thorntons.
Craving frozen yogurt? Stop by RaceTrac.
Who knew all these little purchases could add up to such big business? Seven of the 10 stores on our list of the Best Convenience Store Chains in America also made Forbes Magazine’s list of America’s largest private companies. These billion-dollar convenience stores make their money by making our lives easier.
Read on for a little company history, some staggering revenue figures and insight into what foods and services keep America’s convenience stores running, often 24 hours day, every day of the year.
10 UK Convenience Store Franchises List
Your best bet is to go the way of UK convenience store franchises if you’re looking towards starting a business. This is the business that can run on auto-pilot and most especially if you are interested in making quick returns on your investment. Also, it’s good enough that there are loads of grocery store franchises you can buy at affordable prices.
Moreover, if you are planning to start a grocery business is that you will gain all the knowledge and expertise in the industry it’s another good reason why you should opt for a convenience store in the UK. However, if indeed you want to compete in the grocery store industry you can start a grocery store on a mom and pop level does not make it the proper way to start a business in this dispensation.
1. おにぎり – Onigiri (Rice Balls)
The king of conbini food, onigiri is a rice ball, often with a filling of some sort, and sometimes wrapped in nori (seaweed). It’s a portable, delicious, and “healthy” snack or meal for any time of the day.
The usual line-up of fillings are 梅 -ume (plum), 鮭 -shake (salmon), おかか – okaka (fish flakes), and シーチキン – shi-chikin (tuna).
For something different, you could try a 焼豚炒飯おむすび – yaki buta cha-han omusubi(pork fried rice onigiri), or if you’re feeling brave, try 辛子明太子 – karashi mentaiko (spicy seasoned cod roe).
Depending on which conbini you go, you’ll find all kinds of different onigiri varieties.
The most common type of onigiri sold in conbini are the triangular shaped rice balls wrapped in seaweed.
Check out the different types of onigiri you can get at 7-Eleven in this video:
There’s a special way to open these so that the seaweed, kept separate by a thin plastic film, wraps around the rice, so that you don’t even have to touch it.
It’s a genius packaging design – it keeps your hands clean from sticky rice while keeping the seaweed crisp and fresh.
Costing around 100-200円, onigiri is cheap, too!
Check out this video to see how to open onigiri the right way:
The study reveals that the top 10 largest convenience store chains operating in the United States include 7-Eleven, BP, Shell, Chevron, and Alimentation Couche-Tard. These stores do not change their rankings much from year to year however, there are exceptions, such as Andeavor Corp., which jumped 26 ranking positions to 10, and Valero, which didn’t make the top 100 list in 2017 but ranked 15 in 2018.
Convenience stores offer many benefits to travelers stopping for gas or to buy something to eat. Their long hours of operation, convenient locations, and popular food items attract and serve large numbers of customers daily.
Stewart’s Shops Named One of America’s Best Convenience Stores!
FoodandWine.com set out on a mission to find America’s best convenience stores, and Stewart’s Shops is honored to be ranked #3!
Food & Wine, a popular magazine for recipes, restaurant reviews, and more, decided to skip the larger national stores and delved into the smaller regional chains that are near and dear to their customer’s hearts. They visited convenience stores across the country asking one question: how happy would they be to come back?
According to their rankings, they’d be very happy to come visit us again!
If you know us, you know that Stewart’s Shops take pride in being there for our customers, whether we’re your coffee shop, ice cream shop, grocery store or gas station. Food & Wine took notice of our dedication to our customers, ranking us above other popular stores in our area such as Cumberland Farms and Byrne Dairy. Here’s what they had to say:
“Stewart’s, closely held by the same family since the beginning, doesn’t have to broaden its horizons to keep thriving they just need to keep giving their audience pretty much everything they need to stay happy, from pre-dawn buttered rolls and hot coffee, all the way up to after-dinner ice cream cones.”
They also highlighted our commitment to our employees, which stands out on the list of stores being commended for their food offerings. We truly value our hard-working partners, so much so that they own 40% of the company through our Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP. We were even named a ‘Top Workplace’ earlier this year!
If you could get your hands on some, one of the more talked-about beer releases in Pennsylvania this year took place at one of the state’s favorite convenience stores. The refreshing blonde ale was brewed in partnership with Philadelphia’s Evil Genius, but with a twist—it was made with Sheetz’ popular blueberry muffins. (No, really, it was pretty good.) Quesaritos, totchos, fried macaroni and cheese bites—so much of the food, not to mention the drink, that you will find on the sprawling, 24/7 menu offered by this Altoona-based chain almost seems designed to baffle the uninitiated, but that doesn’t concern—not even in the slightest—the hordes of eager #SheetzFreaks who tend to find most other convenience stores boring at best, if not downright useless. Read more about the Sheetz beer program here.
See Where Pennsylvania Ranks on Food & Wine’s List of America’s Best Convenience Stores
Pennsylvanians are deeply committed to their convenience stores. The fact that our state is home to not one, but two, iconic brands that are at the top of the convenience store game is pretty amazing! We have strong opinions, too, about which reigns supreme we’re talking, of course, about the great Wawa vs. Sheetz rivalry. The debate about which of these one-stop-shops is tops is so intense, in fact, that one local filmmaker is even making a documentary about it! And, as the mostly friendly matchup rages on, each PA-based chain keeps upping the ante, with restaurant seating, craft beer collaborations, new products, touchscreen ordering innovations, their own smart phone apps, and so much more.
Sheetz’s collaboration beer with Rusty Rail Brewing
A Wawa collaboration with 2SP Brewing: Coffee Stout
The rest of the country is starting to take note of our plethora of above-average convenience stores. The most recent nod comes from Food & Wine, which just released its list of America’s Best Convenience Stores, Ranked, compiled by its editors. How did they base their rankings, you may be wondering? Editor David Landsel explains their methodology in the article’s intro:
In the end, the size of the company had no bearing on ranking—we asked one simple question, walking through the doors: How happy would we be to come back here, either for a bite to eat, a cup of coffee, or an ice cream, or more?
Well, turns out that Wawa beat out Sheetz, coming in at number 2 on the list, right after Buc-ee’s, a beloved Texas-based chain. Beyond the great coffee, hoagies, house beer, iced tea and soft pretzels, turns out it is the community culture of Wawa that won the Food & Wine editors’ hearts. “Wawa is where life happens. It’s where you run into everyone. It’s the community center, even an extension of your own living room,” they note.
Sheetz wasn’t far behind, ranking at number 4, right behind Stewart’s, a New York-based chain at number 3. The main shout-out for Sheetz was its recent blueberry muffin beer collaboration with Evil Genius Beer, followed by love for the chain’s quesaritos, totchos and fried macaroni-and-cheese bites.
Other PA shops made the list, as well (in fact, PA had more mentions than any other state on the list!). York, PA-based Rutter’s was ranked #10, Turkey Hill came in at #15, and GetGo, based in Pittsburgh, made the cut at #19.
Check out Food & Wine’s full article for more on their editors’ opinions on the best convenience stores, not only in Pennsylvania, but across the county. What’s your favorite PA convenience store? Let us know here or on the PA Eats Facebook page!
10 Best Convenience Store Chains in America - Recipes
SAVANNAH, Ga. (Oct. 23, 2020) – Parker’s – a nationally acclaimed convenience store company and food service leader that was named the 2020 Convenience Store Decisions Chain of the Year – was recently voted one of America’s “Best Gas Station Brands” in the 2020 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest.
After four weeks of public voting, the top 10 brands were announced on 10Best.com earlier today. Parker’s was named the 8 th Best Gas Station Brand in the U.S. alongside overall winner Kwik Trip and other top brands including Hy-Vee, Sheetz, QuikTrip, Casey’s, Maverik, Rutter’s, Kum & Go and QuickChek.
“At Parker’s, our team strives to provide our customers with a world-class, state-of-the-art experience each and every day,” says Parker’s founder and CEO Greg Parker. “We’re honored by the support of our customers who voted for us and are humbled to be ranked alongside some of the largest, most highly respected convenience store companies in the industry.”
The contest began in September 2020 with 20 brands hand-selected by 10Best editors and travel experts. The 20 candidate brands were chosen for their ability to meet and exceed the expectations of today’s convenience store customer, who are looking for more than just fuel. They also value clean bathrooms, fresh coffee, impressive snack selections and hot meal offerings. The public then had the opportunity to vote for their favorite brand, narrowing the list to the top 10 chains in the country. All of the winners, including Parker’s, are featured on 10Best.com.
Founded in 1976, Parker’s is one of America’s most respected convenience store brands and is known for having the cleanest stores in the industry. Parker’s serves award-winning Southern-inspired food, offers an acclaimed Parker’s Rewards program and gives back to every community where it does business through the Fueling the Community charitable giving program.
Parker’s has been included on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies for five years and was honored by Food and Wine as one of America’s Best Convenience Stores, by The Shelby Report as the Southeast Retailer of the Year and by Convenience Store News as the Foodservice Leader of the Year. The company employs more than 1,200 individuals throughout the region and completes more than 125,000 transactions daily.
Honored as the 2020 Convenience Store Decisions Chain of the Year, Parker’s is strategically redefining the nation’s convenience store industry, offering customers high-quality products, freshly prepared food and superior customer service at retail stores throughout southeast Georgia and South Carolina. Headquartered in Savannah, Ga., Parker’s has a commitment to exceeding customer expectations and has repeatedly been recognized as one of the nation’s leading convenience store and food service companies. Parker’s Kitchen, the new food-centric brand under the Parker’s umbrella, serves world-famous hand-breaded Southern Fried Chicken Tenders as well as made-from-scratch mac ‘n’ cheese, a breakfast bar and daily specials. The company’s popular Parker’s Rewards loyalty program, which includes more than 150,000 members, has saved Parker’s customers more than $15 million to date.
The Top 8 Convenience Store Franchise Businesses in USA for 2020
Founded in: 1927
Franchising since: 1964
Franchise units: 61,086
Initial investment: from $37,550
Royalty Fees: Varies
7-Eleven is an international chain of over 66,000 convenience stores operating in 17 countries worldwide. 7-Eleven helps Franchisees tailor their businesses “to the individuality of their selected market bases and customer needs,” and that means happier customers that come back. Services include obtaining and bearing the ongoing cost of the land, building and store equipment, record keeping, bill paying, and payroll services for store operations fees, and financing for all normal store operating expenses. 7-Eleven’s corporate office even pays for the franchisee's water, sewer, gas, and electric utilities.
Founded in: 1951
Franchising since: 1995
Franchise units: 1,886
Initial investment: from $185,500
Royalty Fees: 3 - 7.5%
Circle K is one of the most widely recognized convenience store brands, known worldwide for quality products and great customer service. Circle K has a rich history of franchising outside of the U.S. & Canada, and plans to grow with strongly capitalized, established operators. From the moment you contact a Franchise Development Manager, to the day your site opens for business, the knowledgeable and committed Circle K Franchise team is dedicated to supporting you. Whether establishing new locations or converting existing properties, Circle K offers benefits to every kind of franchisee.
Founded in: 1975
Franchising since: 1979
Franchise units: 956
Initial investment: from $430,698
Royalty Fees: 11 - 14%
Petroleum and convenience store franchise growth is an evolving industry with high customer demand. Americans want to get in, indulge, and get out. The ampm brand is well established as part of the West Coast's culture. Powerful, distinctive branding is the cornerstone of ampm's high visibility in the convenience-store franchise industry. With ARCO and ampm convenience store franchise opportunities you get thoroughly distinctive brands, comprehensive support for your businesses and award-winning marketing support. A key element of ampm's convenience strategy is high brand awareness and customer loyalty.
Founded in: 1934
Franchising since: 1934
Franchise units: 500
Initial investment: $1,000,000
Royalty Fees: 3.5%
RaceTrac is known for delivering great service to the guests who come to us for our modern, convenient locations, quality food offers and wide product selection. As a pioneer and leader in the retail convenience industry, RaceTrac is capitalizing on its existing store locations and expertise in fuel and merchandise retailing to recruit and support qualified entrepreneurs. RaceTrac franchisees should have strategic agility, business acumen and integrity. Ideal candidates will possess a desire to join a hands-on business opportunity where franchisees are actively involved in the day-to-day operations. Potential franchisees should have a net worth of at least $700K and liquidity of at least $350K.
Founded in: 1979
Franchising since: 1979
Franchise units: 58
Initial investment: from $138,600
Royalty Fees: 5.5%
Dash In is an exciting gas station and convenience store franchise opportunity with multiple revenue layers. That means our franchisees have more opportunities to achieve growth and success when compared to other franchised convenience retail concepts. Dash In wants franchisees to be successful over the long term. Our decades of experience help us and our potential franchisees to determine whether they are a good fit. In our experience, successful franchisees share some common traits and professional experiences.
Founded in: 1988
Franchising since: 1995
Franchise units: 36
Initial investment: from $99,400
Royalty Fees: 4.95%
The Street Corner Urban Market concept sets us miles apart from traditional, mainstream convenience stores that lack soul and vision. Becoming a Street Corner franchise owner is a proven way to affordably build your own business, and you’ll gain access to high-quality design plans, vendors, and hands-on training. Street Corner also offers a Territory Representative Agreement (TRA) that provides a Master Franchisee with a guaranteed, protected territory in which they may develop their own network of stores.
Founded in: 1957
Franchising since: 2015
Franchise units: 422
Initial investment: from $128,501
Royalty Fees: 5%
Farm Stores is America’s largest and original drive-thru grocery store. Our customers love the convenience of driving through on their way to work for coffee and a breakfast sandwich or fresh pastry, and coming by again on the way home for a gallon of milk, eggs, and cereal. At Farm Stores, we know that the future success of the Farm Stores franchise is dependent upon the capabilities of each of our franchisees. We want our franchisees to succeed, and we want their stores to thrive. So we provide all of the education, tools, training, support, and marketing that franchisees need to be successful in their business.
Founded in: 1983
Franchising since: 1983
Franchise units: 367
Initial investment: from $55,875
Royalty Fees: 3.5%
Gateway Newstands is a chain of convenience stores and kiosks in large office buildings, shopping centres, public places, and transit stations in the United States and Canada. Tap into our vast system & over of 30 years retail experience. Access our exclusive real estate opportunities not consistently available to the mass market. We provide prime locations, store design, fixtures, equipment, operations expertise, initial & ongoing training.
United Dairy Farmers is the Best Grocery Store (and Gas Station) in America
When it comes to procuring the important stuff—the crisp bell peppers and the sweet Vidalia onions the fresh rosemary and the organic chicken thighs—only a trip to the best grocery store in town will do. But when all you need is, say, a gallon of milk, or a dozen eggs, or a bottle of Coke and a bag of Cheddar & Sour Cream Lays—well, that’s when convenience stores truly live up to their name.
Free cottage cheese was a really hot offer back then.
Photo by United Dairy Farmers
Over the years, I’ve realized not all of them are created equal. Some can feel like dystopian general stores, with their bad lighting and bad attitudes. But others transcend their sterile, corporate personas, holding on to a sense of community, even a sense of warmth. At my favorite Cumberland Farms in Western Massachusetts, for example, the guy behind the counter still greets customers like old friends. At a Kangaroo Express in Covington, Louisiana, the aroma of pine trees surrounding the parking lot makes it feel like more of a country store than a place to score six packs and smokes. These are the convenience stores I go out of my way for—even if they’re not necessarily convenient. And there's no place Iɽ drive more extra miles for than United Dairy Farmers.
United Dairy Farmers, or UDF, looks like an ordinary convenience store. You’ll see bleary-eyed customers procuring cheap cases of Budweiser, cheap cups of coffee, and cheap packs of Orbit gum. Look down the counter, though, and you’ll see something that’ll make your cold, over-convenienced heart flutter: an ice cream counter where someone in a maroon apron stands mixing chocolate malts and scooping what’s arguably the best ice cream in Ohio. The presence of that counter elevates UDF to something downright old fashioned—something almost Mr. Hooper in its nature.
The Ohio-based chain of more than 200 stores and gas stations dates back to 1940, when fledgling business tycoon—and future Reds owner—Carl Lindner opened the first one on Cincinnati's Montgomery Road. Linder’s idea was to cut out the middleman (in this case, the milkman) by selling milk to the consumer for 28 cents per gallon, about half as much as the delivered goods cost back then. Linder also sold dairy products including cheese, butter, and eventually ice cream.
Stretchy Turkish Ice Cream Now Available in U.S. Grocery Stores
Saying UDF has the best ice cream in Ohio is a daring proclamation. After all, this is a state that’s known for the stuff. (Hello Graeter’s! Heya, Jeni’s!) But there’s something about UDF that many Ohioans, especially Cincinnatians, crave a little more. It’s not that it’s better than Graeter’s or Jeni’s. There’s nothing particularly fancy about the flavors, either (though I’d stake my life defending their black walnut, or their chocolate chip, which has fine shaved chips reminiscent of a stracciatella gelato). It’s more the fact that UDF ice cream is the platonic ideal of the grocery store brands I grew up with as a kid, a better version of Breyer’s or Edies or Friendly’s.
Don’t expect your UDF experience to always be magical. Like most convenience stores, they can fall victim to late-night robberies, drunken patrons, and the occasional S.E. Hinton-like fist fight beneath their fluorescent parking lot lights. Depending on which location you visit, the employees can appear as miserable and overworked as anyone working the graveyard shift at the local Exxon station.
But sometimes you'll find a family of four sitting around a table, laughing and gorging on butterscotch sundaes. Or a grandpa reading the Cincinnati Enquirer over a vanilla milkshake in a wax paper cup, or a couple of teenagers mindlessly licking their way through some cookies and cream on a sugar cone. Because when the stars align at UDF, it can feel as if Norman Rockwell drew it up with the same admiration he once gave the soda fountains of Stockbridge. At a time when so many convenience stores feel soulless and seedy, a UDF can feel downright wholesome.