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Planning Commission

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Jun 03

Convenience Stores Keep Growing to Meet Demand

Posted on June 3, 2016 at 3:59 PM by Michael Stokes

Our over scheduled lifestyles rely upon convenience.  We need to have what we want, when we want it so that we can zoom off to something else.  Though some may question our way of living, it is who we are.

With our high paced life styles, it is easy to see how convenience stores have become an inescapable part of our communities.  These stores provide us with some of the essentials of life; gas for our cars, food ready to eat, and milk and groceries for latter.  Convenience stores have replaced the local gas station, diner and corner grocery.  At any time, 24 hours a day on any day of the year, you can drive into your local convenience store to fill up your car with gas, run in to buy some milk and eggs, and also get a sandwich and coffee all in a matter of minutes. 

Throughout the nation and within Montgomery County, convenience stores are thriving.  The world’s largest and first convenience store, 7-Eleven, is a franchise-based system of stores that started in Texas in 1927 when “ Uncle Johnny” Jefferson Green, began offering milk, bread and eggs for sale at a Southland Company ice house.  Other convenience store businesses were developed by companies that owned gas stations and dairies.  Speedway which offers convenience retail at gas stations has become highly visible in the county since its parent company, Marathon Oil Company, purchased all of the local Hess gas stations.  Wawa another one of the largest convenience store operators in the county grew out of a Delaware County dairy business in the mid-1960s. Now it is joined by other companies with similar roots such as Turkey Hill and Cumberland Farms among the largest convenience stores in the area.   New convenience store chains such as Royal Farms are also moving into the area.

Even though it seems like we have experienced an incredible growth of convenience stores over the past 20 years, we will likely see even more over the next several years.  Some of these proposed convenience stores will no doubt raise concerns about their location, traffic congestion, design, noise, lighting, signage, and overall impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.  All of these are very legitimate concerns that need to be carefully considered for any convenience store proposal.  Also there is the inescapable reality that the opening of a large convenience store often precipitates the demise of other local businesses. 

Good planning and careful design is important to ensure that convenience stores are developed well while protecting the health, safety and general welfare of a community.  These stores should be located along major roads in accordance with local comprehensive plans.  In particular, local ordinances addressing convenience stores should provide standards for traffic access and circulation, setbacks, landscaped buffers and fencing, appropriate design character that reflect local conditions, lighting, signage, among other things. 

Royal_Farms_Bel_Air_MD_XI 
Royal Farms store in Maryland soon to be located here

Seven_Eleven
The old reliable late night 7 Eleven option

Speedway_I
Speedway one of the nation's largest convenience retailers are new to the county

Wawa Entrance
Then there are many Wawa convenience stores in the county

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