Retail Merchandiser - September/October 2013 - (Page T46)

Retail ORTON OIL Investing in the Future Minnesota-based Orton Oil is remodeling its older convenience store sites with modernizations from floor to ceiling, in an effort to attract more customers through its doors. Lookin’ Good Orton Oil owns 15 sites, provides wholesale gasoline and operates a bulk plant that supplies area residents with fuel to heat their homes. C Frank Orton, vice president Walker, Minn. 46 ustomers judge convenience stores by their appearance on a daily basis when they decide whether to stop at one over the other. Knowing outdated looks don’t lure customers, Orton Oil is remodeling its older sites and coming up with fresh marketing ideas to rival competitors. Founded in 1958 by Leland and Maude Orton, Orton Oil remains family owned and headquartered in Walker, Minn. Fourth-generation owner and Vice President Frank Orton says over the past 55 years the company has grown significantly from where it started as a single oil service station and Ford dealership. Today, Orton Oil owns 15 sites, provides wholesale gasoline and operates a bulk plant that supplies residents in the area with fuel for heating their homes. “We diversified among a lot of markets,” Orton said. “Northwestern Minnesota has helped us a lot. We have very good locations and very strong assets in them.” September/October 2013 Renovations at Orton Oil sites have been a major focus recently, Orton says. “We have substantial interior remodeling being done on a variety of sites to make them more modern,” Orton adds. “Some stores that are older and tired, we will work in the direction to get them rebuilt or renovated.” The company is remodeling at least one site – indoors and out - per year. Renovations include new LED lighting, checkout counters, flooring, ceilings, restrooms and gas pumps. This year, four of the sites will receive new tile on the walls, floors and ceilings of the restroom. Another three or four sites will have their restrooms renovated next year. Some are also changing from a single-stall to a multi-stall restroom. LED lights project brighter and clearer, which is more appealing to consumers while also being energy efficient, Orton adds. “We put LED canopy lights outside and added brand new pumps … the front looks nice,” Orton says. “We want to have a strong presence for customers and quality equipment.” Site Marketing With its dispersed locations in rural Minnesota, print advertising is not cost-effective for Orton Oil. Each station is far enough apart that ads would have to be placed in multiple newspapers to reach all of its clientele. This is not an expenditure the company could justify. To combat this marketing challenge, the company purchased electronic message boards that are now being piloted at four sites. Orton says it is working so far – people notice the sales advertised on the board and pull in to shop or get gas. Still not a cheap decision – each message board costs between $35,000 and $40,0000 – Orton believes this strategy was the most cost-effective. “Once you buy it you own it and you can put whatever you want up there,” Orton explains. “We can put anything from ‘help wanted’ to our monthly specials. We looked at the marketing budget and what we

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Retail Merchandiser - September/October 2013

Retail Merchandiser - September/October 2013
BLE 2013
Cyber Defense
Looney Tunes
The Biggest Loser
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
LeBlanc’s Food Stores
Clark Appliance
16 Handles
Cycle Gear
Wedge Community Co-op
All-Rite Construction Inc.
Radio Shack
Terraco Inc.
New & Notable
Focus on Convenience Stores
Bagels or Bookcases
Healthy Food
NACS 2013
Casey’s General Store
Monarch Custom Beverages
Craig Distributing
Nouria Energy
Maritime Farms
Speedy Q Markets
Parker Cos.
Orton Oil
The Linn Cos.
Tiger Fuel Co.
Architec Housewares
State Oil Co.
La Vie en Rose
New & Notable

Retail Merchandiser - September/October 2013