Hail Street Travel Center is part of the rich cultural tradition of Taos Pueblo, NM.

Taos, New Mexico is one-of-a-kind. Seated in the high desert and surrounded by natural beauty, the city’s pueblo architecture and traditions of the local Pueblo People make this a dreamlike place, with a well-deserved reputation for being conducive to reflection and relaxation.

Not far from the city is Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American community designated to be both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. It’s a place where visitors can witness life traditions passed down through the centuries, while immersing themselves in a colony of river-spanning, multi-story adobe dwellings that are hundreds of years old and remain in daily use. The Pueblo is the true heart of the area; visually and culturally, its influence is felt everywhere.

SSCS customer Hail Creek Travel Center, which opened its doors in July 2020, reflects the Taos/Taos Pueblo community as well as any business in the area. The Puebloan-owned business operates out of an approximately 3,500 square foot building that is a visual standout on Highway 64. It was built from the ground up, under the supervision of the tribe, to reflect and complement the community of which it is a part.

Hail Creek’s design even incorporates a stunning view of Taos Mountain, and is just a half mile from the Taos Mountain Casino, also owned and managed by the Puebloans.

But the store is far more than a signpost or tourist attraction.

“It’s true that we get a lot of visits from out-of-area travelers and Highway 64 drivers that want to stretch their legs while fueling up,” says Jennifer Welty, the store’s GM through its first years, who recently moved down the road, literally, to casino operations. “But the main customer base is local, and they return frequently, often daily. Our regulars are the foundation of our business.”

And though the store’s inventory of approximately 17,000 unique items reflects a well-rounded mix of grocery items and other merchandise—the kind of items that you’d expect area residents to look for in their local general store—there is no denying that the most powerful retail engine for the travel center is tobacco.

“It’s just a ballpark figure, but I’d say about 60 percent of our merchandise transactions are tobacco-related,” Welty states. “We’re on a spot where a former local smoke shop once stood, so there was a built-in demand, which we’ve built upon.”

Industry professionals are well aware of how challenging it can be to manage the margins of tobacco, which are notoriously finicky, if not outright capricious. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that selecting the right computer would represent a critical part of the computerization for the new business. After going through the due diligence required by the tribe, the operations team behind Hail Creek Travel Center selected SSCS as a technology provider.

Plans were made, and the process looked to be moving along quite nicely. Then the unexpected happened: COVID-19 struck, threatening the entire project.

To find out what happened next, and how SSCS played its role, please read next week’s SSCS Blog, which you can access here.