Saturday, September 16, 2006

Automated Stores

Behold . . . The Automated C-Store.

Founder Jeff Parsons is building the chain on a simple idea. He realized removing the employees would widen margins to the point that it was feasible, even without the traditional high-margin items that require employees to verify age. And he’s augmenting his efforts with kiosk technology: deploying DVD rental kiosks and ATMs in the mix.

Makes sense. This one is in Florida so it makes sense that the thing is a collection of vending machines, under an awning, with branding to tie it all in.

The further north you go the more 'indoors' you'll want. I can't picture anyone relishing standing outside in a Wisconsin January to buy stuff. But a building would raise costs, plus you've got a problem of it feeling like ... a laundromat, or an ATM building. Windbreaks? Heaters in strategic spots around the vending machines?

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