Not Just a Number

Not Just a Number

June 2022   minute read

By: Kim Stewart

After the 2022 NACS State of the Industry Summit in April, I had some time to kill in Chicago’s O’Hare airport waiting for my plane back to Virginia. My main mission was to secure kettle popcorn for my family—done at Garrett Popcorn Shops. On the way to Garrett’s, I happened across an interesting assortment of four automated kiosks lined up in the terminal: Kylie Jenner makeup, Sprinkles Cupcakes, CVS health and beauty items (including COVID-19 test kits) and Apple accessories. 

Farmer’s Fridge could work in a high-traffic c-store. 

Then across the corridor I spied a Farmer’s Fridge vending machine. Several people were queued up waiting to select a grab-and-go salad, bowl or sandwich from the bright and quirky looking kiosk, which was positioned in a part of the terminal devoid of other food offers. I watched an airline employee enter his order on the touchscreen and seconds later, a salad emerged in a clear container in which the fresh-looking ingredients themselves were all the marketing needed. 

Apart from transportation hubs, a smart vending machine like Farmer’s Fridge could work in a high-traffic c-store as a complement to other turnkey foodservice programs like pizza and chicken—and might be a way to tap into a customer base that doesn’t typically shop convenience stores. 

This issue is packed with our exclusive NACS State of the Industry benchmarking data. 

From foodservice to tobacco to fuels, this issue is packed with our exclusive coverage of the NACS SOI Summit and the benchmarking data shared there. One of the unique features of this year’s SOI Summit—the first since 2019 and the first fielded solely by NACS—was the regional breakout sessions in which leading retailers presented deep dives of metrics and shared the trends affecting their respective areas of the U.S. 

Don’t miss “The Big Question” interview with industry thought leader and Coen Markets CEO Charlie McIlvaine, who highlighted the key takeaways from the SOI Summit that convenience retailers need to understand to move forward. 

A favorite quote from my interview with him is this: “Don’t get paralyzed by change. We can’t allow ourselves to be stymied by the dynamic environment. Use this time as an opportunity.”

This was only my second live NACS SOI Summit since I took the helm of this magazine in March 2019. That pre-pandemic SOI Summit is really where my introduction to the convenience and fuel retailing industry began, and even though much of what I heard discussed that first year went over my head, I learned so much and met some wonderful people. 

Now, three years and 39 issues of NACS Magazine (and countless NACS Daily e-newsletters) later, I have a much better understanding of the business but still so much to learn. Call me grateful to be a part of this dynamic industry. Happy reading, my friends!

Kim Stewart

Kim Stewart

Kim Stewart is NACS editorial director and editor-in-chief of NACS Magazine. She can be reached at kstewart@

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