You’re Probably Going to Need a C-store
If your dreams of Springtime travel include a tight budget with a dose of do-it-yourselfism, you’d be well-advised to work a c-store into your plans.
Lately, Mother Nature has been laying siege upon most of the country—be it rain, snow, sleet, or just incredibly cold weather. It gets people daydreaming about spring.
Better weather will set us all free to move freely about the country again, right? Okay, so it’s a month or so away . . . at least it gives us something to look forward to! And when that first sunny day hits . . . it’ll be out the door and on the road.
If you’re on a budget, taking a do-it-yourself (D.I.Y.) approach to travel can keep your trip’s costs in control. The D.I.Y. trend has been on the rise lately. One source speculates it’s an attempt to take control back over our lives in the Digital Age.
We don’t know about that, but we do know that if you’re taking a D.I.Y. approach to the road—whether you’re putting together your own camper for the long-haul or just day-tripping—you’re probably going to need a c-store, a sign of how the industry has increased its value to the consumer beyond core convenience items.
Travel centers are evidence of this trend: giant c-stores that broaden the appeal of the traditional truck stop beyond its original niche to all travelers—and then some. If you leave the house on an impulse and need a can opener, sleeping bag, or vegan snack, or anything else you need to cobble together an impromptu trip, you’ll find it here, even spare travel bags, in case you find yourself broadening your plans on the spot.
The Iowa 80 Truckstop is perhaps the most sensational example of this sweeping approach to the c-store. Barbershop? Check. Chiropractor? Check. Movie theater? Why not? And don’t forget the Dogomat on your way out. Who needs road trip hacks when you’ve got limitless options at your disposal?! Texas-based Buc-ee’s takes a similar “go big or go home” approach.
Not that mega stores capture all the attention of the traveler. SSCS customer Wagner’s C-store in Wittenberg, Wisconsin has an extensive boutique to catch the eye of out-of-towners. Phil’s 550 Store in the Upper Michigan Peninsula is so quirky it’s almost a tourist destination in its own right.
Speaking of which, do-it-yourself travelers like to bring back souvenirs with a local flavor, without necessarily paying a fortune for them. Again, c-stores of all sizes can help.
Visitors to Hawaii are no doubt familiar with the ubiquitous ABC Stores, a good example of a retailer that makes location-themed gifts, clothes, and food items a focal point. There are less standard examples, too, like the ones on this list for the economically minded traveler.
Sights, gifts and novelties deeply rooted in Americana can be found all along famous Route 66 at such places as Pop’s, the Hackberry General Store, and the Kingman Canada Mart. In Live Oak, Florida, Busy Bee serves a similar purpose, featuring a huge selection of “penny candy” and a beef jerky bar, two road staples. If you’re looking for a little culture in your hunt for novelties, visit the Bigfoot Museum at Gasquatch Mini-Mart in Idabel, Oklahoma. Now that’s a destination c-store!
Okay, that’s just a few ideas, but like we said, the world becomes a much more interesting and practical place to travel when you realize how much the industry really has to offer. Keep that in mind, because next week our blog is going to take a close look at U.S. Route 66, and the unique petroleum retailers you’ll find along the way there.