The impulse to change drives general merchandise management

By: Greg Lindenberg | April 19, 2023

With a resume that includes stints with Juul Labs, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Co. and Keurig Dr Pepper, Aubrey Thornock, a senior category manager for Maverik Inc., is well-versed in consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketing and retailing in convenience stores, from both sides of the equation—supplier and seller.

At the Salt Lake City-based chain of nearly 400 stores in 12 western and southwestern states, for more than two years she Thornock been responsible for identifying and capitalizing on emerging market trends and revenue opportunities in categories including cigarettes, tobacco and kratom. She works closely with vendor partners and category captains to execute formal schematics for her categories.

In general merchandise, which Thornock says offers “continuous change,” one physical area of the store that is always challenging is the counter.

Thornock works with Maverik’s merchandising and space planning team “to create a unique shopping experience at each register with the impulse purchase items, currently spread out across the counter, into one display at each register,” she says.

In terms of selecting product assortment, she and her teams at Maverik “must be proactive in most cases to ensure the least amount of disruption to our flow of operations.”

Products include lighters, energy shots and other general merchandise items that reside on the counters.

She is also completely redoing the cigarette and tobacco fixtures to maximize space within the fixture for a consistent flow of categories, she says.

Among Thornock’s goals for 2023 is to align the variety of store layouts Maverik has with consistent planograms for a much easier shopping experience for the customer when shopping in her categories, she says. “This has allowed me to provide adequate space to the categories that are growing and bring in additional items that we were not previously able to carry due to space constraints,” she says.

Merch Madness

C-store retailers continue to capitalize on the cache of their own brands and through local partnerships. 7-Eleven, Stewart’s Shops and Jacksons Food Stores are among the chains with recent rollouts.

Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven in December debuted an assortment of festive holiday apparel and merchandise as part of the 7Collection online store, including branded holiday sweaters, knitted beanies, sherpa blankets, stockings, Oh Thank Heaven script necklaces and a clock.

Ballston Spa, New York-based Stewart’s Shops has launched an online shop offering merchandise such as branded sweatshirts, retro T-shirts, PopSockets, dog bandanas, dog leashes, pint koozies, a set of pint glasses and color-changing cups. Other items include a bejeweled vacuum tumbler, short-sleeve baby onesie, winter hat, socks and dog leash. Following the debut of an online Christmas ornament in 2022, the retailer will also offer multiple limited-time-only merchandise drops throughout the year.

Meridian, Idaho-based Jacksons Food Stores has begun selling exclusive, officially licensed, professionally designed, printed and packaged college football trading cards. Featured teams include Boise State’s Broncos, University of Washington’s Huskies and University of Oregon’s Ducks. Each pack contains 14 cards and retails for $12.99. One out of every 10 packs also includes a limited-edition, autographed card.

Source: CSP