by John McCurry/contributing writer
Melrose, New Mexico, is a town with a population of about 650 in the north central part of the state, about 30 miles from the Texas border. The town is in a rural area considered a food desert. Helping fill the gap is a new, larger Allsup’s convenience store, which offers products normally available in supermarkets.
A grand opening was held the week of Jan. 19-25 for the 6,000-s.f. store, which is the largest in the Allsup’s chain and offers more food options than a typical convenience store, such as fresh meat and produce.
The store is the 305th for Allsup’s, a Clovis, New Mexico-based chain acquired by Des Moines, Iowa-based Yesway in November. Allsup’s stores are located in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. Yesway now has 420 stores altogether with the combined chains.
Derek Gaskins, VP of merchandising and procurement for Yesway, said it made sense to build a larger convenience store in Melrose to help address the food desert issue.
“Melrose is one of those in-between towns. It’s outside of Clovis, where Allsup’s has its headquarters,” Gaskins said. “The closest grocery store is about 15 miles away, and there are some dollar stores in the area. For us, we wanted to fill the gap of the food desert by providing beyond what we normally do.
“All of our stores are known for their burritos, chimichangas and flautas, along with fresh milk, bread, eggs and core grocery items. We looked at this as an opportunity to expand even beyond that.”
In addition to a selection of perishables, the new-format store offers other frozen foods and baby products.
Gaskins said it’s too soon to say if this type of store will be a model for the company going forward, but there may be opportunities to extend this concept to other food deserts.
“This will be an interesting test lab for us to learn and see what’s resonating with customers,” he said.
Yesway is seeking dramatic growth, he added, and that can come in existing markets or new locations. Growth can come from acquisitions, “raze and rebuilds,” or construction of new stores.