Image Caption (Above): All Cenex locations will receive the Halo image upgrades that include a lighted canopy with a 360-degree LED light band and a three-dimensional Cenex logo and backlit blue arch.
Harrisburg, South Dakota, is a picturesque small town that is quickly expanding. Located just outside of Sioux Falls, it’s a magnet for young families and those who want to be close to a bigger city but still experience that small town feel.
But sometimes a growing small town can lack certain amenities. That’s where Sioux Valley Coop comes in.
“We learned through research that Harrisburg was growing rapidly. It was full of young families that were building in a smaller town, but they didn’t really have a lot of options,” said Renae Greenfield, director of retail and operations for Sioux Valley Coop. “We thought that it would be a great place for us to grow and build and become part of the community.”
Because we had access to the LIFT initiative, we were able to think outside the box and add all of those extra upgrades that we wanted when building this store, as opposed to just building a basic store.”
Sioux Valley Cooperative has five convenience store locations in South Dakota, including its newest one in Harrisburg. All locations are Cenex branded. When the company was considering the Harrisburg location, building the store in partnership with Cenex was a no-brainer.
“Cenex is premium-quality fuel and premium-quality products,” said Greenfield.
Partnering with Cenex, the energy brand of CHS, allowed Sioux Valley Coop to take advantage of Cenex’s LIFT Initiative, which provided Sioux Valley Coop with lighting, image and facility amenities, as well as a low-interest loan financing option.
“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,” said Akhtar Hussain, director of refined fuels marketing for CHS, on a recent episode of the NACS Convenience Matters podcast.
Greenfield said that when the store was being designed, the company wanted a more modern, upscale design to compete with the other new builds in town.
“Because we had access to the LIFT initiative, we were able to think outside the box and add all of those extra upgrades that we wanted when building this store, as opposed to just building a basic store,” said Greenfield. “[Instead of] having to fix it up or add in later, we could do it all the way we wanted to right away at the beginning.”
BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME
We get a lot of people who come in and just enjoy the modernness of the c-store.”
The forecourt at the Harrisburg location features a lighted canopy with a 360-degree LED light band and a three-dimensional Cenex logo and backlit blue arch. This is what Cenex calls the Halo portion of the LIFT initiative, and it elevates the appearance of Cenex® branded locations, according to the company.
“We feel that it’s very inviting for people. They can see it from far away, and they’re able to notice that it’s a Cenex-branded store,” said Greenfield. “We hope that will make them stop in and want to come check us out.”
The forecourt features 16 fuel pumps, including six Cenex premium diesel pumps, so “there’s never a line,” she said.
Cenex requires that its branded retailers comply with the Halo image standards on the forecourt, but when it comes to the interior, it’s free game. According to Hussain, Cenex works with many different types of convenience stores—small and large stores in suburban and rural locations—so the company doesn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach.
“By allowing this flexibility, both in architecture style and amenities, we are allowing our local business partner to be the expert in understanding what their local consumers want and need,” he said. “We think that flexibility is what is really key here and committing to being that long-term business partner and being that partner to the communities that we serve.”
The interior of the Harrisburg store features a modern design with natural elements. Customers walk in and see a high, vaulted ceiling with wood paneling and LED lighting throughout the entire store, which has been cost-efficient for the location. There are also large windows, giving the store a “bright and airy” feel, according to Trevor Lickteig, the location’s general manager.
“We get a lot of people who come in and just enjoy the modernness of the c-store. They enjoy that it’s something new and updated,” said Lickteig.
“At Sioux Valley Coop, we pride ourselves on being the best, and we wanted to have the best store in the best location and the best community, and we feel that Cenex has helped us do that by making all of these upgrades available to us,” said Greenfield.
FEEDING THE COMMUNITY
Harrisburg, like many growing small towns, does not have a plethora of choices for food and dining out. Sioux Valley Coop wanted to offer a destination to meet this need.
“We wanted to give everybody one more great, delicious option for them to try,” said Greenfield.
The company did its research and decided to bring in a Godfather’s Pizza program.
“Godfather’s is a big thing for us. We sell a lot of mini pizzas and large pizzas, and we also just introduced burgers and cheese curds, chicken tenders—you name your c-store food, we’ve got it,” said Lickteig. “With us having Godfather’s and our other food options ... it gives people an opportunity to give back to the community by staying local and supporting local industries.”
The store also offers Flyboy Donuts, which is a chain in Sioux Falls, as well as a Fresh Blends smoothie machine and Caribou Coffee. Interior seating invites customers to sit and stay awhile.
“It’s given [people in the community] a place to come in to have a cup of coffee with their friends and chat,” said Lickteig.
Part of being that food destination is listening to customers and their wants. Sioux Valley Coop prides itself on offering a wide variety of products, and many customers have specifically asked for Cenex-branded products.
“We always take requests. If there’s something that they’re looking for that we don’t have, we will definitely look into getting it for them,” said Greenfield.
AT THE CENTER
For Sioux Valley Coop, community is at the heart of its business.
“We are a very community-oriented company. We try to volunteer and do as many things as we can to help our communities grow and prosper,” said Greenfield.
For Lickteig, being part of the community means the ability to create jobs for the city of Harrisburg.
“For me to have a big employment impact on the community, it makes me feel like I’m doing something that’s going to help the community,” he said.
Lickteig, a Harrisburg resident, was hired before the construction of the store was complete. He was able to oversee a lot of the hiring, which included some of his former employees, as well as others from the community.
“Having Godfather’s Pizza in the store, I was actually able to create a lot of jobs for the younger kids in the area who wanted a first job. It was good for them to have another option where they don’t have to leave Harrisburg to go work,” said Lickteig.
According to Hussain, the needs of the community and its members are what shape the local retail landscape and the businesses that those consumers patronize. “We want to be that store in the community that is a source of pride both for our business partners as well as the consumers in those markets,” said Hussain.
“The statement we were trying to make in Harrisburg when we built this store is that we’re here to stay. We’re not going anywhere. We want to be a part of this community for the long haul,” said Greenfield. “Whatever we can do to become more a part of this community, we are all in.”
For more information about the LIFT initiative, visit www.cenex.com/LIFT.