Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Not Just a Spot to Pump Gasoline Convenience Stores See Market Growth

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Not Just a Spot to Pump Gasoline Convenience Stores See Market Growth

Article excerpt

Gina Sierra's shifts at Giant Eagle's GetGo started in the very early hours of the morning.

"I was an opening cashier, so I went to work about 4:45 a.m.," Ms. Sierra said of the job in Erie.

But the part-time job fit her life at the time, allowing her to pick up her young son at day care or school.

After a few months, the store leader noticed her work and started giving her more tasks, which led to more responsibility at bigger stores.

Over the past 12 years, she has worked her way up from a cashier to a recent promotion as regional business leader for the Ohio and Indiana markets for GetGo.

Now, Ms. Sierra is responsible for what she calls the "people portion" of the convenience store chain.

"I ensure team members are safe, that customers are treated with respect." And, she has helped workers develop their potential within the company.

"I help find talented team members and get them on a path for a career with us, which I'm very passionate about," she said, noting that in 10 years as a store leader she helped develop more than 25 people on a career path for the O'Hara-based chain.

Overall, the market for convenience stores is growing, as companies such as Sheetz, GetGo and 7-Eleven remodel stores and add healthier food and drink options - a turnaround from the days of scorched coffee and leathery hot dogs spinning on a rolling tray.

In the Pittsburgh area, employment has ticked up steadily to 976 in early 2017, a small 8.4 percent increase, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall, recent years have been good years for U.S. convenience stores, with in-store sales reaching a record $233 billion in 2016, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores, a trade organization based in Alexandria, Va.

In the first half of 2017, sales continued to climb with 67 percent of convenience retailers reporting higher sales than the same period in the previous year. About 15 percent said sales dropped, the trade group reported. …

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