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Be A Good Neighbor

Whether your store is decades old or new to the neighborhood, your business is a part of the fabric of the community, economically, socially and culturally.

Environmental Stewardship
There are ways to celebrate being America’s trash receptacle, especially at the fuel island, by highlighting or increasing recycling capabilities, hosting community recycling events and charitable giving to relevant organizations. NACS consumer survey results found that nearly half of all naysayers of convenience stores in their community cite litter as being the cause of their consternation. Survey results also found that 53% of consumers prefer to buy from companies that encourage recycling and that number increases to 62% for millennials.

The cost is well over $11.5 billion each year—and that’s a conservative number—to clean up and address litter throughout the United States, suggests Keep America Beautiful. For more than 50 years, Keep America Beautiful (KAB) has been educating and motivating Americans to clean up their litter and the environment. And there are many ways you can address your clean-up objectives:

  • Download this free guide developed by KAB and NACS: Being a Good Neighbor: A Guide to Reducing Litter, Managing Trash and Encouraging Recycling at Convenience Stores.
  • Curb Litter: Remember that first impressions matter. Litter is one of the most highly cited reasons why people don’t want a convenience store in their community, so don’t be trashy! Read more about keeping your site clean and litter-free in NACS Magazine. 
  • Improve Recycling: Free resources include tips for designing public places, creating your own recycling events (electronics recycling, recycling at work) and promotional materials and signs you can print.
  • Promote America Recycles Day, held annually on November 15. 

Encourage Refills
Do you have a mug or cup refill program? Not only will customers repeatedly shop your store, they’ll also help reduce waste. You can also consider partnering with local or national charity to donate a percentage of the refill price.

Here’s other ideas for engaging your community with environmental stewardship efforts:

  • Plant a Tree: The Keep America Beautiful National Planting Day takes place the first Saturday after Labor Day.
  • Greenprint promotes sustainability through providing fuel and services to help the environment.
  • The Arbor Day Foundation hold National Arbor Day on the last Friday in April, but each state has designated days to celebrate based on climate and planting season.
  • Earth Day is held each year on April 22. Find local events and participate by lending staff, donating product or sponsoring events and programs.
  • KaBOOM! has engaged over 200 cities to create family-friendly, play-filled communities and more than 16,300 playgrounds. KaBOOM! Relies on corporate financial donations and volunteer builders.

Here’s a snapshot at what some convenience stores are doing in their community to help promote and protect the environment:

  • The Ricker’s Replenish campaign donates a portion of every gallon to planting trees and carbon offset programs to help reduce your tailpipe emissions.
  • For every gallon of ALON Fuel purchased with the STRIVE program, stores will invest in local greenscape, reforestation, wildlife protection, and renewable energy projects. 
  • Hy-Vee has pledged to plant 100,000 trees and use Earth-friendly paper products.
  • Kum & Go celebrated its 100th LEED certification on Earth Day.

Community Safety
Located in every community across the United States, convenience stores often serve as the only safe haven for at-risk individuals and those seeking assistance from troubling situations. It’s important to support your local law enforcement, so that you have an immediate line of communication when individuals seeking help come into your store.

It’s also a smart business practice to look out for neighborhood police officers both as a crime deterrent and to thank them for their service. Many retailers show their support by:

  • Offering a free beverage to officers in uniform.
  • Providing financial support for civic fundraisers such Police Athletic leagues, Fraternal Order of Police groups, and other such charities.

Many convenience stores also provide aid to at-risk youth through programs such as National Safe Place, a community outreach program that agencies, local businesses and local government partner with to create a network of “Safe Places” where youth in crisis can get immediate help. National Safe Place assures a 24/7 option is available for young people who leave home due to a variety of reasons, including abuse, neglect, family conflict or homelessness. Safe Place sites are identified by the bright yellow and black diamond-shaped “Safe Place” signs or decals.

National Safe Place will provide training, materials, support, legal protection and more. To get started, contact Jeff Lenard at NACS for more information.

Support Victims of Human Trafficking
There are many organizations and agencies that assist victims of human trafficking. While these individuals can appear in any community or location, truck stops, travel centers and gas stations near highways tend to see frequent use by traffickers and their victims. Longer hours of operation, public restrooms and ease of access increase the likelihood that convenience stores can help victims of human trafficking. Post materials in rest rooms or near doors that provide victims with phone numbers they can call to get help as well as in employee breakrooms and offices to promote awareness.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign provides free videos and resources to help employees identify instances of human trafficking. Free printable resources such as posters and fliers available online or you can request larger volumes of materials. Human Trafficking Awareness month is held annually in January and provides additional opportunities to raise awareness with customers.

Listen to Convenience Matters Episode #90 Partnering for Human Trafficking Awareness to learn why and how to help innocent victims of human trafficking in your community and in your stores.

Convenience Stores Against Trafficking (CSAT) empowers the convenience store industry to play a vital role in ending human trafficking in America. CSAT provides industry specific information on how to recognize and report human trafficking. Freedom Stickers with the National Human Trafficking hotline are placed in restrooms, providing a pathway to freedom for victims of human trafficking. CSAT raises public awareness of human trafficking and communicates to customers that the industry cares about those in the greatest need. CSAT is a program of national nonprofit In Our Backyard. To learn, more contact Juliana, CSAT Program Manager: 

Here’s what some retailers are doing to promote safety and support in their community:

Being a good neighbor is not just a good business practice. Your efforts will position your company and employees as champions for the community. So it’s important that you tell your story about your hard work and efforts.


 Also in this toolkit


Give Back
​As part of the fabric of the community, convenience stores support local organizations and charities. These efforts are recognized with more than two in three Americans (71%) agreeing that convenience stores share their values and do business the right way. Here’s some ideas on how you can support the community, along with examples from your peers.

Be Local
​Your loyal customers are likely locals stopping by for a grab-and-go occasion or to refuel their vehicle. Their kids have grown up with your store. They may even have been employed or know someone who has at your store because 17% of Americans have worked in a convenience store – that’s 1 in 6 people. Celebrate their community and the hard work that their neighbors have put into it.

Tell Your Story
​Communicating to your customers what your company stands for is another element of building your brand. Remember: If you don’t tell your story, then who will?