Regional Truckstop Favorites Appeal to Travelers

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 dschulte@natso.com or (915) 526-5820 to learn more about the costs and details of this service.

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It is officially summer, and that means road trips are happening across the country. The New York Times recently ranked the best gas station snacks, and while roller grill items and candy definitely made the list, so did fresh fruit and regional potato chips. The author also professed her love for regional favorites of all types.

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“A good gas-station forager will always look for the hot regional specialty,” wrote Kim Severson, a self-proclaimed veteran of hand-to-mouth eating on Interstates. “The boudin ball in Louisiana. Boiled peanuts (but not the ones from a can in the Crockpot) in the Deep South. Green chile burritos in New Mexico. A slice of tri-tip on a roll in California. Smoked meat in Michigan. Fried chicken on a stick in Mississippi. Tacos in the outskirts of Houston.”

The piece made me think of all of the regional favorites NATSO members are offering across the country.

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Bandit Truck Stop in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, has prioritized their local flavor and specialties over brand name products, such as Twinkies and Ding Dongs. They have whoopie pies, apple pie, Shoo Fly pies—molasses pies created by the Pennsylvania Dutch in the 1880s, are a regional favorite—as well as other pies from Pennsylvania.

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The Willkomm Highlands Petro in Racine, Wisconsin, taps into the Nordic population in the area and offers a Danish Bakery. The bakery features Danish kringle, fresh donuts and pastries as well as whole cakes, which is a great option for customers looking to take something home.

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Trails Travel Center in Albert Lea, Minnesota, creates an experience for those who stop, including the location’s Viking theme as well as exceptional merchandise.  

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No matter what products you offer, the overall ambiance can help travelers connect to the local culture. The Coffee Cup Fuel Stop location in Moorecroft, Wyoming, features cowboy and wood accents that let you know you are in Wyoming. 

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I feel like Florida 595 Truck Stop in Davie, Florida, offers up its regional flair with delicious food, a place to unwind and an opportunity for drivers to relax under the palm trees in the Florida sun. 

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Now is a perfect time to think about the offerings that can set you apart from your competition, especially those regional favorites that travelers can’t find anywhere else. 

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/// Did you know most weeks can find Darren Schulte, NATSO's Vice President of Membership, 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.

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Photos Credit: Darren Schulte/NATSO



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