A Focus on the Basics

C Express keeps things simple and friendly.

January 22, 2024

Like many c-store owners, Richie Kaneria, owner of C Express, fell into the industry because he wanted to be his own boss. "I'm by profession an engineer, but I lost interest in that after completing my master's program," he said. "I'd worked for convenience stores and liked the simplicity of the business model."

Eventually, he bought into one store, then bought another one. The two locations are in Norman, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City. "Convenience stores are simpler operations than restaurants, and with more than one revenue stream, a safer bet too," Kaneria said. "The hours might be longer, but the store generates revenue 18 hours a day."

A Simple Store

Kaneria decided early on with C Express to not compete with local chains but rather figure out what his customers wanted and deliver it as quickly and efficiently as possible. At the Oklahoma City location, "We offer only two types of gas at the pump because that's what our customers want," he said, adding he would consider putting in electric vehicle chargers if the demand was there. The Norman location does not offer fuel.

Foodservice is one example of how he caters to his clientele while not trying to one-up the competition. "I can't compare with chain stores in made-to-order food, so I decided to use an a la carte model with hot food available in a hot case rather than filling individual orders," Kaneria said. "My customers don't want to wait for their food to be made—they'd rather grab it and go."

The kitchen makes fresh chicken tenders, burritos, sandwiches, toasters, and other fried foods on-site from scratch. "Our food program is a little bit different from other c-stores, but our customers love it," he said. Fresh, hot food is available from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

The rest of the store has typical c-store items, including wine, beer, candy, snacks, and packaged beverages. While C Express has a Facebook page, social media engagement isn't something Kaneria is prioritizing right now. "We're a very localized business, and most of our customers live within a five-mile radius of the store, so social media isn't something that generates much interaction for us. We feel our efforts would be better spent talking with our customers in the store than online."

To continue reading, check out the latest issue of NACS Magazine.