ALEXANDRIA, Va.—36 Lyn Refuel Station has been serving its Minneapolis community for more than a decade. In the latest episode of Convenience Matters, founder and owner Lonnie McQuirter, who also is a member of the NACS Board of Directors, discusses how his store makes a difference within the community and how other retailers can do the same.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty,” McQuirter said during this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “Retailer Deep Dive: 36 Lyn’s Lonnie McQuirter.” “We are going through a difficult time—the pandemic, unemployment, civil unrest. … You can look at it and be paralyzed by it.” But he said he and his team haven’t let that happen and have pushed forward through everything that’s happened over the past year.
McQuirter connects with area residents by offering his store as a pickup point for community supported agriculture produce boxes. He also sponsors the city’s Open Streets event that temporarily closes major thoroughfares to car traffic so people can connect with neighbors and local businesses. 36 Lyn opens its rooftop for musicians to play during the festival.
“[We understand] that we’re a small store and what matters in our local neighborhood matters much more than what matters on the national or federal level during times like these,” he said. “I can’t control what’s going on in D.C., but I can control what’s going on in my ZIP code and in my area.”
Throughout this past year, McQuirter made sure he communicated with staff and customers the store’s hours, COVID-19 safety precautions, and the store’s stance on certain topics. “That’s really my role and an opportunity we have as an organization to speak up … in terms of our local area and community,” he said.
While the U.S. has 150,000-plus convenience stores, McQuirter pointed out that each one has its own customers, staff and status in their communities. “What we’ve been able to here is not something that can’t be replicated by the chains or stores in bigger cities,” he said. “We know our customers and we focus on them. We know our staff and we focus on them. During times of crisis, whether it be the pandemic or social unrest, we really want to focus on who our customer is and how do we service them and how do we adapt to the new needs and changes they have.”
Download the podcast and watch the Ideas 2 Go video of McQuirter’s store and an interview with NACS spokesman Jeff Lenard for more about how he connects with his community.
Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 250 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be downloaded on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps, on YouTube and at www.conveniencematters.com. Episodes have been downloaded more than 200,000 times by listeners around the world.