One day we were driving around the Monterey Peninsula after a day at SSCS and saw something we couldn’t recall seeing before. It was a food truck in the lot of a gas station with a small c-store. We thought at first it was just parking there, but the lines leading up to it signaled that it was open for business. A boba specialty shop on wheels. It was doing pretty good.

Our curiosity piqued, we decided to look into the subject. Were there more of these team ups? As it turns out, there were. A lot more. Nor is this trend particularly new. Point-of-sale provider Gilbarco pointed out the possibilities in an article from 2020.

In fact, the c-store/food truck relationship parallels what naturalists call, “mutualism,” that is, two different animal species existing together, cohabitating to the benefit of both, like pilot shrimp and gobies. Or wooly bats and pitcher plants.

From the c-store’s point of view, there are definite advantages. If a store is small and for some reason can’t build out, it’s a way to be competitive given the rise in the kind of professional food service that consumers are coming to expect from the industry. It’s a way to create additional foot traffic without adding square feet or building a kitchen, or something equally resource-heavy. In addition, it creates market distinction—food trucks tend to catch the consumer’s eye, like it did ours.

The food truck usually works under a rental agreement with the store, a percentage of sales, or a combination of both. As for the food truck, it gets a more stable place to do business than parking on the street, along with a new pipeline of customers, especially when the truck’s offerings are a clear compliment to the merchandise the c-store carries.

There’s even a website to help potential c-store/food truck partners find each other. And some c-stores are openly advertising for food truck partners.

Here’s a sample of the c-stores that are making it work:

Highland Park Corner Store, Highland Park, Washington. Like many of its peers, this corner store sees itself as a community hub and community builder. One of the ways it does so is allow a rotating group of food trucks from local food purveyors, some of them rather exotic, like Katmandu MoMocha, which features Nepalese cuisine.

Daily’s Dash Food Market, Various Locations, Florida. This small Florida chain features a food truck prominently in its publicity, and for good reason: it’s very impressive-looking.

Pretty Odd Wieners (Roadrunner Gas Sation), Meyers, California. The road to South Lake Tahoe can be a grind on the weekend, but travelers on can take a break from the potential gridlock on Highway 50 by having a elk, boar, venison, bison, or vegan hot dog, if a standard wiener doesn’t do it for you.

Casillas Brothers Market, Salinas, California. This one’s local. In fact, many SSCS team members bypass Casillas Brothers Market every day on their way to and from work. In a very compact footprint, this operator manages to deliver outstanding (going by the reviews) Mexican food at very reasonable prices, including breakfast burritos!

This further blurring of channels is making it even harder to define what comes under the umbrella of “convenience store retailing,” but despite the different looks that operations are serving up, all of them share the basic need to price effectively and inventory accurately to maximize profitability. That’s why, despite all the exterior changes to the industry, SSCS’s Computerized Daily Book back office software remains an integral part of the mix. We give operators the ability to see inside of their business, and support good management practices that work across a variety of store concepts. The closer you look into your business, the bigger an impact our software makes. Give us a call and we can talk about it at (800) 927-7277.