More convenient, convenience stores

Wawa and others expanding in Florida
Posted at 5:29 PM, Jan 09, 2017

A new year bringing new options for you to get gas and groceries, sometimes in the same place.

Work continues on a former Albertson’s on US 1 at 17th street in Vero Beach.  It's poised to become the newest Neighborhood Market.  It’s owned by Wal-Mart, but it’s not a Wal-Mart.

“The biggest difference is we’re primarily a grocery store. Grocery, health and beauty aid, pharmacy," said store manager Cheryl Medina.

Medina says when it opens this spring, the market will bring 95 new jobs to the area, and a new way to shop.

Across the street from Wal-Mart's "smaller" footprint, is a Cumberland Farms store with a "larger" footprint.

Don Longo, editor in chief of Convenience Store News, says places like Cumberland Farms, Wawa, Racetrac and others are the new generation of convenience stores responding to customer demand with bigger spaces, and some with restaurant quality food prep.

“They can make nice profits on food service compared to lower profit margin things they sell like fuel and cigarettes," said Longo.

Helene Casteltine is the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director.  She says good demographics, and a popular winter destination is luring new brands to the area.

“When I bring clients into town, if they’re from those areas, they like to see that familiarity.  They like to see those names in the marketplace," said Casteltine.

Customers agree the new stores are light years ahead.

“I think the gas pumps are a little bigger.  The prices are right.  It’s really clean, really nice and friendly," said Ryan Redding of Vero Beach of the new Cumberland Farms.

Wawa is planning 5 new store openings in West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, Palm Springs, and Port St. Lucie this spring.