M&A Specialist | Advisor | Author | Consultant

The $20 Pickpocket

The $20.00 Pickpocket

One of the neat things about the work I do is that I get to travel around the country a lot meeting with clients getting to talk about business and particularly convenience stores since that I was do. Help people value and sell their convenience stores. So since I get to travel a lot that means I am in a lot of convenience stores. Partially, because of the traveling and partially, because of the fact I want to see the convenience stores of my clients. And I am always looking for the unusual and unique things about a store.

For example, about 6 weeks ago I was in Las Vegas, NV and there was a store across the street from a major branded store and it was an independent owned store and not a new store probably about 2,200 square feet on a corner lot with a bunch of posters on the outside windows, about a ½ of a mile off of the strip that I went into too.

The store was busy and you could tell that it catered to mostly locals by the mix of the people in the store and type of vehicles in the parking lot. As soon as I walked in I thought this place is a good store. Although the store wasn’t laid out in a neat and orderly manner with a square floor plan as to the shape of the building, instead it was sort of diagonal, but it was loaded with pertinent inventory suited for the local customers. Very well stocked, which gave the customer a compelling feeling about wanting to buy something, which I did. To validate my point one of the people who I was with at the time who is also one of our brokers in the Las Vegas office all of a sudden said. Man, this is one good store.

Now, this guy used to be in the convenience store business too and he was thinking the same thing I was. We both had the same opinion in a matter of 5 minutes of how the store was well stocked and laid out in such a way that it seemed to reach out and make you want to buy more stuff. I am embarrassed to tell anyone how much stuff we bought and all we went in there for was to use the bathroom (which was clean by the way, but a really small one) and grab a soda, but a well stocked store without big aisles, compelling signage works.


Now, that story has nothing to do with the $20.00 pickpocket, but for anyone who may be reading this I thought they may like to hear about what turns on people who spends a lot of time in convenience stores. No, as for the pickpocket.

Again I like to look for the unusual in a convenience store and this one particular store always blows me away. I was back home in Southwest Florida (Ft Myers Beach to be exact) and went to my local 7-11 to get some gas & beer. Yes, I knew exactly what I wanted and it was a destination not a casual drop by the store thing. Got the gas and started inside to the store. And here again they had writing all over the front windows and doors of the store in colored marker. It said something about lottery and cookies I think.

Paying half attention to the writing on the windows I proceeded into the store to get my beer and go on my merry way home. As I approached the counter there was one guy working at that counter. Probably in his early or mid thirties (but who knows. At my age everybody looks young) in his red 7-11 shirt. I placed the beer on the counter and before I could say or do anything he says. You want to buy a $20.00 lottery ticket? I said is that what the front window of the store is promoting a $20.00 lottery ticket? He said yes would you like to buy one, because the State of Florida only does this type of promotion once a year. And then he proceeded to pull out a sheet of paper that showed the number of odds of you winning a $1MIL and all of the other possible prize amounts.

First let me share something with you. I don’t buy lottery tickets. I bet you I haven’t bought 25 of them in my lifetime, because I don’t’ believe in them so I am not an easy target. And when I did buy a lottery ticket is was when the prize money was some humongous amount of money in the millions so I found it intriguing that this guy was selling $20.00 lottery tickets and yes after his excellent presentation I bought one. He must have known that I had just left the ATM machine and had a pocket full of $20.00 bills or something.

But here is the part of the story I can’t understand and will welcome any input I can get on this issue. Why was this guy who is not a young kid, working an hourly job trying to sell me a lottery ticket, which probably at best had a 5% gross profit margin? Did the manager of the store threaten him and the other employees to do this? I know that isn’t true, because I know who the manager of the store is and she is a very nice person. This guy really wanted to sell me and he was sincere about his presentation. Why don’t I run into more people like this? Is suggested selling and one of higher ticket items a lost art and nobody wants to practice it anymore? I need help on this one and I hope that others will be able to share with me some of their stories as to how they have experienced some of the same great selling and service techniques that I have.

Happy shopping at the convenience store and be on the lookout for the suggestive sales clerk. They may just get your $20.00 bill.

 PS: If I do win the lottery it will be published with the title. “The last article” Until then as we always say. Don’t quit your day job.


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