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David vs. Goliath, Part II.

Byline: Don Longo



(646) 654-7489

Last issue, I wrote about how the entrepreneurial spirit was still strong in this country and that smaller retailers can coexist with the Goliaths of the industry by exploiting their unique advantages.

According to a Citibank survey of 552 small-business owners/managers with fewer than 100 employees, the entrepreneurial spirit appears to be thriving despite the recession. Seventy-one percent of small-business owners surveyed said they "would start a small business again, even considering the current business environment could occur again." In addition, 58 percent said they "would recommend the small-business opportunity as a career for my own children."

Our cover story of that issue was a perfect example of that spirit. Rather than panic when he heard 500-store giant Sheetz was moving into his market, Richard Bruning, owner of Quik Shop Gas Stop in Trinity. N.C., instead did his homework. He traveled 50 miles north to visit other c-stores already doing business near another Sheetz location. The ideas he found helped him tweak his product mix and stay relevant to his customers after the new Sheetz opened.

In my column, I also provided a list of suggestions for the Davids out there. One of those suggestions - make yourself unique - is illustrated this issue in our cover story on several single-store owners who succeed because they excel in a specific niche (see cover story).

I also received numerous phone calls and e-mails from readers with their own suggestions for competing with the Goliaths. Rest assured, we'll be examining those in future cover stories of Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner.

Let me close with one particular e-mail from a single-store owner on the West Coast:

Dear Don,

WOW. After reading your article on "David Coexisting With Goliath," I think I have a chance. After 17 years working in the casino business, I purchased a c-store one year ago, on the opposite corner from a tobacco chain ... So the first year I worked 12-14 hours a day. Then I hired someone because I couldn't handle the workload. Now I see things more clearly. I need an inventory management tool, as well as several other things, but the bigger problem is my competitor, which is selling 10 times the beer I am because the beer distributor sells him all of its outdated beer. He's selling it cheaper than I can buy it. I have some ideas, but would cherish your suggestions. By the way, you have a reader for life.


Brett Webber

Brett, you must pick your own battlefield. If you were a military commander, you wouldn't want to fight on your opponent's turf. Don't make the mistake that many grocery chains did when they got into price wars with Walmart a few years ago. Pick a battle you can win.

If you have any suggestions for Brett, please send them to me at, and I'll pass them along.

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Author:Longo, Don
Publication:Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner
Date:Oct 1, 2010
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