Is bigger better?
QuickChek thinks so.
The Whitehouse, New Jersey-based chain recently opened a new 6,750-square-foot convenience store and gas station with eight gas pumps/16 fueling positions in Bohemia, after opening another large location in Commack in October.
QuickChek has at least three more large stores planned for Long Island — in Brentwood, Bayport and West Islip, according to Islip town officials.
Planned for a summer opening at 648 Motor Parkway, the QuickChek in Brentwood will have a 6,298-square-foot store and six gas pumps/12 fueling positions, company spokesman Russ Mensch said.
Also, a 6,584-square-foot store planned for 750 Montauk Highway in Bayport and a 6,766-square-foot store planned for 425 Union Blvd. in West Islip, each of which would have eight gas pumps/16 fueling positions, are under site plan review by the Town of Islip, town spokeswoman Caroline Smith said. QuickChek declined to comment on those plans.
With its push into Long Island, QuickChek is following the national trend of retailers building large convenience stores/gas stations designed to be destinations for long-distance travelers and commuters who will spend more money inside on food, phone chargers, hand sanitizer and other products, rather than just fueling up.
Located at 3540 Veterans Memorial Highway, the Bohemia store features the chain's Fresh to Go design dedicating more than 50% of the store to fresh foods and beverages, including made-to-order sandwiches and wraps. The location also offers free Wi-Fi and phone and laptop charging stations and indoor seating for 12.
“We serve busy people on the go and today’s consumer, especially young professionals, families and health-conscious people, want fresh,” QuickChek CEO Dean Durling said in a statement last month.
The chain entered the Long Island market in 2014, with a store in Lake Grove, and now operates five stores in the region.
QuickChek describes its locations as “fresh convenience market stores that also sell fuel,” instead of gas stations. The chain has sold food since its start in 1967; fuel sales were added in 2000.
The average size of a convenience store in the United States is about 3,000 square feet, up from about 2,400 square feet in the 1980s, said Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores in Arlington, Virginia. But it’s not uncommon to see 5,000 square feet, he said.
Convenience stores with gas stations are bigger than they’ve ever been, as retailers try to offset increased challenges, such as higher fees on credit and debit card swipes, according to IBISWorld Inc., a market research firm.
Also, gas sales are nearly stagnant as cars become more fuel efficient, Lenard said. And fewer people are buying gas based on price — 71% in 2013 versus 58% in January 2020, he said.
So, operators of convenience stores that sell gas are offering more in-store amenities, such as hot food, fresh coffee and baked goods, seating areas with Wi-Fi and sleek décor — and large retailers are more able to afford these investments than mom-and-pop retailers.
The trend of these large gas stations has been slower to catch on on Long Island, where town zoning rules can be barriers and real estate is expensive, but it is happening.
QuickChek, which has 160 stores in New Jersey, the Hudson Valley and Long Island, is pushing into New York for a reason.
"It’s a little easier to be a convenience store/gas station in New York than it is in New Jersey because you don’t have the added responsibilities" that come with New Jersey's mandatory full-service gas rules, Lenard said.
Retail Roundup is a column about major retail news on Long Island — store openings, closings, expansions, acquisitions, etc. — that is published online and in the Monday paper. To read more of these columns, click here. If you have news to share, please send an email to Newsday reporter Tory N. Parrish at email@example.com.