NACS Chairman Hits the Road

20 convenience stores, 4 states, 3 days and many stops along the way.

NACS Chairman Hits the Road

May 2023   minute read

Sure, flying can often get you there faster, but when the opportunity pops up to hit the road and see our industry in action, why not take it? 

That question—which is more of a statement—kicked off a three-day road trip that began at the NACS office in Alexandria, Virginia, on March 17 and ended on March 20 in Savannah, Georgia, where the NACS HR Forum took place. 

From l to r: NACS Chairman Don Rhoads and NACS staff Jayme Gough and Chrissy Blasinsky

The next important question came from NACS Chairman Don Rhoads: “What time are we heading south? Who’s driving?”

Being from Washington state, Rhoads did fly to get to Virginia. But the rest, as they say, is history.

Friday, March 17
Who wore green for St. Patrick’s Day? None of us—hopefully not a bad-luck omen. 

Wheels up at 12:00 p.m.! Chrissy and Jayme picked up Don around noon at a hotel in Alexandria and off we went to pick up I-95 south to Greensboro, N.C. 

Our first convenience store stop: Wawa! This Stafford, Va., store hit the spot for coffee and lunch. And Don’s first Wawa.

A few hours later, another first for Don: Sheetz! The team at this Petersburg, Va., store almost didn’t believe Don that he served on the NACS Board of Directors with Joe Sheetz.

Sometime around 6:00 p.m. we reached our destination. “I didn’t realize a college basketball tournament would be going on when I picked Greensboro as our overnight stop,” said Chrissy.

Saturday, March 18 
Wheels up at 8:30 a.m. Don’s West Coast jet lag didn’t slow us down. Well done. 

When you see “World’s Largest Chest of Drawers” on a map, of course you’re checking it out. High Point, N.C., calls itself the home furnishings capital of the world. 

Next stop: Buc-ee’s in Florence, S.C.—another first for Don and a first for Jayme, too. To say this place was packed is an understatement. We’re pretty sure nobody forgets their first Buc-ee’s experience. 

Off to Charleston, S.C., our next overnight stop. Along the way we took our time and hit a few detours—another fun aspect of road trips—while seeing more NACS members in action. 

We made it to Charleston! First stop: a downtown Refuel c-store on King Street that opened in January 2023. And since we’re officially in the South, Don experienced boiled peanuts for the first time (and maybe the last).

Sunday. March 19
Busy day! We stopped at two more Refuel stores (Daniel Island and Clements Ferry Road in Charleston) at the suggestion of Tim Rupp, COO and CMO of Refuel and a member of the NACS Research & Technology Committee.  

Next, time to meet with the team at Spinx! We toured Spinx stores in Wando and North Charleston with Walter Zimeri, director of operations; Jonathan Montoya, territory manager; and Andrew Bursing, associate director, operations.

Time to head to Savannah, Ga. The drive from South Carolina to Georgia (on US 17 and I-95) was a goldmine for more convenience store stops. 

Savannah! We made it!

Monday, March 20
Wheels up at 8:30 a.m. to meet with Ryan Krebs and Cheryl Kelly at the Enmarket headquarters in Savannah. Next, onto an Enmarket store with a new car wash concept. It’s a stone’s throw from Enmarket’s HQ.

We added up our store count and realized how close we were to hitting 20 stores. Can we do it? Yes, yes we can—and did!

Our last stop is a store Chrissy first visited in 2007 for a NACS Ideas 2 Go video: Parker’s Market. This downtown Savannah store has it all—wine, craft beer, pastries and bean-to-cup coffee—and even home dĂ©cor. 

We said our goodbyes to the rental chariot and took a cab back to DeSoto Hotel in time for the NACS HR Forum. It’s really weird getting picked up at an airport without luggage, as our cab driver mentioned.

Road trips are not possible without our members. Road trips also would be extremely less enjoyable without convenience stores. They are destinations and a much-needed oasis, as we found on multiple occasions. 

Yes, we are biased when we say this: Our industry is the best industry in the world with the best people.  

Road Trips and Summer Drive

While road trips are great any time, the unofficial start to summer—and what our industry considers road trip season—is the Memorial Day weekend.

Every year for the past 20+ years, AAA predicts how many millions of people will travel 50 miles or more from home on Memorial Day weekend—an indicator of what the roads will look like until Labor Day.

AAA’s annual Memorial Day Travel Forecast has never shown a strong Memorial Day and then been followed by a downer summer in reality.

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