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A convenience store or a corner shop is a small retail business with a large range of everyday items but often not many selections. The stores tend to be pretty small but offer many essentials, making them very convenient.
Some also sell alcohol, offer money orders and wire transfers, have photocopying machines and cash machines. Many of them are attached to gas stations or include fuel options. But they all vary a little bit.
This list of the top 10 convenience stores in the United States was chosen based on 2019 data of how many stores each chain had at the end of that year.
7-Eleven Inc. Dallas, Texas USA
Total stores end of 2019: 9,364
7-Eleven stores aren’t just well-known in the United States. They’re an international chain of convenience stores. Their start dates back to 1927 with an icehouse named Tote’m Stores in Dallas, Texas.
In 1946 the chain decided to change their name to 7-Eleven because they had extended their hours from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm, seven days a week.
Their headquarters are still in Dallas, but the chain is now wholly owned by Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Ltd, a Japanese company. While they have many stores in the United States, there are even more across the globe. By July of 2020, the chain had 71,100 stores in 17 different countries.
7-Elevens were initially noted for their totem poles, uniforms, and great customer service. Today they’re probably best known for their Big Gulp beverages, which were introduced back in 1976.
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. Laval, Quebec Canada
Total stores end of 2019: 5,933
The name Alimentation Couche-Tard might not be something most people in the United States are familiar with, so how can they be the second-largest convenience store chain in the United States? Their headquarters aren’t even in the States. They’re in Canada.
Yes, this company is Canadian-owned, but they have a strong presence in the United States. They just go under a different name. Most people will recognize Circle K convenience stores in the United States.
Alain Bouchard opened his first convenience store in 1980 in Laval, Quebec. Within five years, he had purchased 11 Couche-Tard (a French term for someone who goes to bed late or a night owl) stores. He purchased more stores, consolidations happened, and the brand grew significantly.
It wasn’t until 2001 that Couche-Tard hit the American market with the purchase of Bigfoot convenience stores, then they purchased the Circle K chain and decided to keep that name because it was so well-known in the states. They then renamed their U.S. stores Circle Ks. Circle K is also now franchised in Asia and elsewhere.
In 2017, Couche-Tard purchased Holiday Stationstores, the 18th largest convenience store chain in the United States. So even though this is a Canadian company, they have a massive presence in the United States.
Speedway LLC. Enon, Ohio USA
Total stores end of 2019: 3,900
Interestingly, Speedway was the third-largest convenience store in the United States when considering the total number of stores, and they still are. However, their ownership will soon change. All of their 3,900 stores have been purchased by another convenience store giant.
Both Couche-Tard and 7-Eleven were trying to grab this giant from their owners, Marathon Petroleum Corp. The negotiations lasted quite a long time, but by August 2020, Marathon announced that they’d sold to the same Japanese company that owns 7-Elevens.
The deal has still not formally happened, and it’s unknown whether the name will remain or if they will be rebranded.
Total stores end of 2019: 2,181
Casey’s General Stores are located in the Midwest and the Southern United States. They got their start in 1959 when Donald Lamberti purchased his dad’s service station. He did some pretty major renovations and turned it into a convenience store.
Things were good for nine years. Then a friend suggested he purchase a service station, which he did, and named it Casey’s after his friend suggested he make the purchase.
This first Casey’s store did so well that Lamberti decided to buy more and continued to do very well. He noted that his stores in small towns were the most successful, so he focused on putting stores in towns with a population of 5000 or less.
The company continued to grow exponentially and attracted the attention of Coche-Tard and 7-Eleven. Both giants have sought to take over Casey’s, but Casey’s continues to reject offers and battle for control of their own company, avoiding mergers or purchases.
Casey’s has announced that they will be dropping “General Stores” from their name but continue operating as Casey’s while still actively expanding.
EG America LLC. Westborough, Massachusetts USA
Total stores end of 2019: 1,679
EG America is one of the fastest-growing convenience store chains in the United States, but that name probably doesn’t mean a lot to you. Instead, they operate under several different brands, including Cumberland Farms, Turkey Hill, Kwik Shop, Loaf ‘N Jug, Tom Thumb, Quik Shop, Mini Mart, Fastrac, and Certified Oil.
EG America is owned by EG Group, located in Blackburn, England, and is the world’s leading independent fuel station and convenience retailer and operates in eight countries.
While their reach is global, they didn’t make their entrance into the United States until 2018. This is impressive when you realize that they went from not having a presence in the convenience store market in the United States to being a big player who is only getting bigger in a relatively short period.
Their first purchase was Kroger Co.’s 862 stores in April of 2018. Later in September, they bought standalone Minit Mart stores, followed by Fastrac, and the buyouts kept adding up.
Total stores end of 2019: 1,489
Murphy USA began in 2013 as Murphy Oil, and their approach was to place gas stations near Walmarts. Three years later, Walmart began opening its own gas stations and convenience stores, so Murphy decided to branch out. They would begin supplying their stores with products from Core-Mark, giving them a larger selection of products.
In 2020, Murphy USA announced an agreement to buy QuickChek convenience stores. And now that they’ve broken free from Walmart, they are picking up more stores in more locations. They’ve also created Murphy Express stores which are larger and offer more options than the original Murphy USA stores.
Total stores end of 2019: 1,272
GPM Investments started in 2013 by acquiring the southeast division of VPS Convenience, which included the brands: Scotchman, Young’s, Li’l Cricket, Everyday Shop, Breadbox, and Cigarette City. They also purchased five stores from Hurst Harvey Oil. That start gave them fewer than 300 stores but a good entry into the business.
Next up were more purchases in 2015 and even more the following year. Today they operate or supply stores in 33 states. About half of their business is dealer sites that they supply with fuel, and the other half are convenience stores.
While the company started in the East and Southeast, they’ve begun to expand even further south and into the Midwest.
Interestingly, they pride themselves on their proprietary RED’S fried chicken, which is made fresh in the stores and includes many side items, bringing a good amount of business into their stores.
Total stores end of 2019: 1,017
BP America operates its stores in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Nevada. They did have stores across the United States but decided, in 2012, to focus on the Western United States. They run under the banner of ampm, and these stores are fully franchised.
A big part of their success is their coffee, bakery, fresh sandwiches, and hot foods. They target a younger audience and have even tested using bitcoin-enabled ATMs, and they stock CBD snacks and topicals.
In 2018, BP joined with ArcLight Capital Partners to acquire Thorntons Inc.’s convenience stores. These stores operate independently from the rest of the BP network but come in at 200 stores.
ExtraMile Convenience Stores LLC. Pleasanton, California USA
Total stores end of 2019: 942
ExtraMile Convenience Stores run as a 50/50 business between Chevron USA and Jacksons Food Stores. They were formerly called Chevron Stores, and it’s under that network that they hope to continue to expand the ExtraMile name.
ExtraMile currently focuses on the western states of Utah, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Idaho. They expect to continue to grow and have an aggressive plan for the next several years.
On the other side of the partnership, Jacksons Food Stores were founded in Idaho in 1975 as a single service station. Today they’re found in Chevron, Shell, and Texaco convenience stores and claim to be one of the largest privately-held corporations in Idaho.
Wawa Inc. Wawa, Pennsylvania USA
Total stores end of 2019: 880
Wawa began in 1803 as an iron foundry, but the owner decided dairy farming was more his speed, and so they move to Wawa, Pennsylvania, where they’re still headquartered today, and got in the milk business.
They were doing quite well, and it wasn’t until the 1960s that the owner’s grandson decided to open a Wawa Food Market to sell their dairy products.
Today, the convenience store still prides itself on its all-day, every-day place to buy fresh, built-to-order foods, beverages, and more. Their chains can be found in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, and Washington D.C. They still operate as a privately held company.
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