How Arroyo Shell Became a Craft Beer Destination

The gas station started with one cooler door and grew to more than a half-dozen doors.

August 27, 2021

Craft Beer Cans

PASADENA, Calif.—One of the keys to becoming a “destination” is to focus on one category, and that’s what Arroyo Shell in Pasanda, Calif., did with craft beer, TimeOut reports. The gas station and convenience store offers chilled cans and beer bottles, with owner Shibli Haddad resetting the doors multiple times a week to keep up with stock. He rounds out the impressive selection of craft brews with an artist-commissioned mural, chalk wall and rockin’ music playlist, TimeOut said.

The beer selection includes flavor-of-the-month brews, lagers, pilsners, Kölsch and IPAs, plus local favorites like Glendale’s Paperback and San Gabriel’s Ogopogo. When Haddad took over the station in 2016, his sister suggested he add craft beer.

“I had very minimal knowledge, and you could tell that by the selection back in 2016,” he told TimeOut. “I didn’t have a wide enough variety. It was becoming nothing but IPAs in here.”

Haddad began chatting up customers and haunting online beer review sites to curate his selection. Soon, he brought in a fridge to cool the brews, ending up with six cooler doors in a row filled with microbrews, Modelo and Bud Light. That’s in addition to a double-door cooler with even more beer, bottles of bubbly and canned sangria.

“I personally just enjoy talking to people in the craft beer community,” Haddad said. “I don’t want to bring in beers that may not be super well-received because I don’t like wasting the limited space on them.”

While some have asked why Haddad has not switched to opening a bottle shop, he replies that his customers still like the convenience aspect of his store. They can fill up on gas, pick up snacks and find a new brew to-go.

Craft beer is growing in popularity at convenience stores, as NACS Magazine shares in “Crushing on Craft Brews” in the July 2021 issue and “Tapping In” in the May 2021 issue.

The percentage of adults who drink craft reached 44% last year, up from 35% in 2015, according to the Brewers Association, the Boulder, Colorado-based trade association for craft brewers.

Data from NACS Convenience Voices indicate that 25 to 34 year-olds make up the largest share (47.5%) of craft beer purchasers in the convenience store channel, followed by 35 to 44 year-olds (31.3%) and consumers 24 and younger (15%). Males account for 62.5% of craft beer purchases. When it comes to beer occasions, nearly 60% of shoppers participating in the NACS Convenience Voices mobile intercepts program said they purchased craft beer to relax either by themselves or with a significant other, and 23.6% said they would share beer to connect with close friends or family.

Don’t forget to register to attend the 2021 NACS Show October 5-8 at McCormick Place in Chicago and take advantage of the education sessions on category management, including the sessions Cold Vault in 2021: Trends and Takeaways and Private Label Trends on October 5, Determining the Perfect Product Mix on October 6 and Top Strategies for Transforming a Fragile Food Supply Chain and What’s New With Cannabis on October 7.