How C-Store Retailers Can Define Their Value

Cenex sees the current economic state as a way to further solidify its commitment to the communities it serves.

July 28, 2022

Cenex Convenience Store

By Sara Counihan

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—High gas prices and decades-high inflation have been forcing consumers to change their lifestyle habits, including driving less, and convenience-store retailers must decide how they are going to define their value during these economic times, according to this week’s NACS Convenience Matters podcast episode.

“I think that the community and the needs of those community members really shape the retail landscape and the businesses that those consumers are going to patronize,” Akhtar Hussain, director of refined fuels marketing, Cenex, said on the episode.

Hussain said that during the pandemic consumers became dependent upon the Cenex stores in their communities for purchases outside of their usual convenience-store shop, such as grocery items and paper products, and now that the pandemic is waning, customers are still seeing Cenex stores as offering high-quality goods and services.

“For the Cenex brand, we see this as an opportunity to further solidify our commitment to the communities we serve, regardless of the consumer preference, in terms of whether they’d rather go to a big box store or whether they would rather stay a little bit more local and have more of a convenience-oriented experience,” he said.

Trust is a word that the Cenex team talks about often, along with consistency, comfort, safety and fair prices. Because Cenex stores are locally owned and operated, the people who own the stores and their employees have a great reputation in their communities, according to Hussain.

“It’s sort of a layering effect. We partner with local businesses and local business owners who share in this commitment to community that the Cenex brand has. So for us, it’s just leveraging those strengths,” he said.

Also part of its commitment to the community, Cenex has a LIFT initiative, which is two parts. One is an update to exterior images of Cenex stores, which is called the halo image. The halo image brings an enhanced lighting element to the forecourt with a 360-degree light band, additional accent LED logos throughout the canopy, as well as in many cases, the installation of LED canopy lights.

“The focus here is just on offering a modern, bright, safe looking forecourt environment for travelers and trying to grab their attention while they’re on the street,” said Hussain.

The second part of the Cenex LIFT Initiative is an in-store loan program where we offer 0% financing for our local store owners to invest in their facilities.

“We think by partnering with our local stores and offering them this capital that we are not only solidifying our commitment to the community, we’re developing trust on that business level with our business partners, understanding that we want to be successful with them into the future,” he said.

Learn more about Cenex and the LIFT Initiative, including a successful c-store rebuild in Wisconsin with an added bait and tackle section and a log-cabin-inspired exterior, on this week’s NACS Convenience Matters podcast episode No. 346 “Will Customers Choose Your Store Over the Competition?

Sara Counihan is contributing editor of NACS Magazine and NACS Daily. She can be reached at