The Road Never Traveled Has a C-Store
Those who wander the country in their RVs have a lot in common with the rest of us: they rely on c-stores.
There are more than a few threads of the iconic in the convenience store’s DNA. We’ve talked about it before.
A lot of it stems from industry’s gas station roots in the days before the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956. That’s when it still took hours on two-lane roads of wildly varying quality to get between small towns. The gas station became an oasis for American motorists and was understood as such. It became emblematic of American life.
The aura of Route 66 is maybe the best example of this kind of “mythic American road culture.” Made obsolete by Interstate 40’s 75 MPH speed limit, the “idea” of Route 66 retains staying power in the American imagination; it connects, somehow.
Gas stations (and motels) are a big part of that mystique, and it isn’t just Route 66, but local highways in the Rockies, in the South, in New England—everywhere. And while the convenience landscape has changed with the dominance of merchandise retailing, the long-standing link between road travel and retail petroleum remains. Modern stores like this one understand this association, and aren’t afraid to tap into it when building their brand.
In the past five or so years, the American Road Trip has grown to include an increasing number of RVs. We’re not just talking about Grandma and Grandpa heading out to a state park for a week, we’re talking about whole communities of nomadic RVers who are into it for the lifestyle.
Like everyone else—maybe more than anyone else—these RVers find refuge in retail petroleum outlets in a way that nearly parallels the needs of road trippers 75 years ago. What they provide ranges from fruit and drinks to providing a hot spot for reliable Wi-Fi.
Here are some more examples of modern c-stores making it a point to capitalize as a go-to destination for RVs:
- As you might expect from a brand that has “Travel Stops” in its name, Love’s has a number of locations that distinctly cater to RVs. Many of their locations also provide mechanical services, linking them to the dominant c-store model of the 20th century.
- The convenience store at Truman Lake Resort invokes memories of an earlier time, while providing everything an RV enthusiast could want, from firewood to batteries.
- It’s really in a campground, not on the open road, but there’s no way we could leave out Yogi Bear’s Jelly Stone Park c-store.
- Retailers are also proving adept at applying modern digital rewards programs to the interests of their RV-related customers, as exemplified by these RV-friendly convenience stores and their partnership with the RV-focused Good Sam Club.
The lure of the open road continues to exert a compelling pull on travelers and would-be travelers, even though it might be just a little bit harder to find unoccupied stretches than in 1955. That’s okay, though: modern RV enthusiasts are redefining the open road, and convenience stores will be more than ready to assist! SSCS will be there, too, providing the technology our stores need to help them get the job done!
 If you want to get an idea of what all the fuss is about, here’s an informative guide to the ultimate Route 66 road trip.
 A pretty interesting movie about these communities called Nomadland was released in 2020.