C-Store of the Future?

C-Store of the Future?

The future. Everyone has an idea of what it will be like.

Some visions are fun, like riding a hoverboard in Back to the Future, or living on an earth where everyone gets along, as in Star Trek.

Some are darker, like Planet of the Apes or Mad Max or A Clockwork Orange.

Good or bad, though, one thing bugs us about stories and movies set in the future. You never see a C-store. That’s right, the C-store. In the words of the The Washington Post, it’s poised to be the “General Store of the Future”; the dominant bricks-and-mortar one-stop outlet.

The rise of the C-store has been a consistent trend. Gas stations that once sold snacks gradually transformed into convenience stores that sold gas, an evolution that continues today. The C-store concept has expanded to include fair-trade coffee bars, quick service restaurants (QSRs), fresh produce and other healthy food choices (we’ll touch more on that last one next week). Next on the list? The fast casual restaurant space.

Not only are progressive operators taking on more, they’re getting better at it. That builds confidence, which means even more varied offerings. Pre-paid debit cards, the first step on the way to a limited banking function, is one possibility. A fast, easy upgrade station for consumer technology devices is another. And recharging your electric car? A piece of cake. Want technology powerful and flexible enough to help manage all these changes? Well, it’s already here.

With a whole slew of architectural and design firms focused on the market and offering their services to forward-thinking operators, the look and feel of stores is modern and sleek. Bottom line, we think C-stores are going to be a hub of commerce almost impossible to ignore as we march to the mid-21st Century.

So we don’t know about you, but the next time we see a movie or read a story where the future is all towering skyscrapers, flying cars and robot servants, we’ll be disappointed if we don’t see a C-store. (Just as long as it doesn’t carry Soylent Green, because, well, you know….)