Summer is Coming, Is Your Travel Plaza Ready?

Editor's note: Darren Schulte, NATSO vice president of membership, frequently visits NATSO members to review their locations and offers impactful merchandising and operations improvements. Contact Schulte at or (915) 526-5820 to learn more about the costs and details of this service.

I know there is still frost on the ground in some parts of the country and thoughts of summer may be tucked into the back of your mind, but in retail it is never too early to start thinking about upcoming sales opportunities. So many retailers found themselves unprepared when the cold snap hit the East Coast and missed valuable sales opportunities. Don’t let the same thing happen with summer sales!

Here are five simple summer must haves you should consider:

Storm Essentials: Hurricane seasons officially runs from June 1 to November 30, and truckstops and travel plazas can tap into sales from locals, travelers and over-the-road drivers alike. Batteries, flashlights and extra water are all essentials when a storm is approaching. And, don’t forget fuel, which is crucial to keep customers moving if they’re evacuating an area or to keep supplies moving in after a storm hits. What preparations have you made to keep fuel flowing when a storm approaches? Have you created a contingency plan for staffing your location or evacuating employees during a natural disaster? Now is a great time to consider your strategies.


Fluids: Summer time means bugs splattered on windshields, so make sure you have adequate supplies of windshield washer fluid on hand.

Coolers: Sales of coolers, particularly thermoelectric coolers, increase in the summer, and some NATSO members are reporting great success with high-end cooler lines. They can appeal to a wide range of customers, from professional drivers looking to keep drinks cold to fishermen wanting a reliable container to transport their catch.

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Back-to-School Needs: Back-to-school shopping has become serious business. We carry paper, pens and other school supplies, so why couldn’t we be a local supplier for back-to-school needs? Create a display to change the way people think about where they get their supplies. You may even be able to find some fun products shoppers won’t find at a big box store.

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Beverages: We know beer and soda sales go up during the holidays, so maximize your sales with the right displays. Your vendors can help you build cool displays of those products, which get people thinking about what they need for their next barbeque or get together. Enlisting your vendors can be a great strategy no matter what items you’re looking to promote, so don’t be afraid to ask them for advice.

/// Did you know most weeks can find Darren Schulte, NATSO's Vice President of Memebrship, visiting a NATSO member truckstop location, spending three to four days, using his merchandising and operations expertise to help them grow their business? Learn about NATSO’s Profitable Retail Review program here.


 Photos Credit: NATSO 

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