The Convenience Store Purchasing Guide


Make smart decisions when purchasing equipment for your Convenience Store. Learn about the equipment you will need, typical costs, and where are the best places to buy it.

Required Equipment and Materials


Most convenience stores carry a variety of snacks, beverages, and other personal products.

Depending on your location, it might make sense for your store to carry souvenirs or basic travel and electronic items as well. Here is a list of the equipment you will likely need to get started:

 

  • Cold Drink Dispenser
  • Microwave
  • Slushy Machines
  • Coffee/Hot Chocolate dispenser
  • Coffee Airpots
  • Hot Water Dispenser
  • Coffee Condiment Organizers
  • Coffee Cup Sleeves
  • Coffee Straws
  • Paper Cups
  • Refrigerated Merchandiser (Beverage)
  • Hot Food Display/Warmers
  • Countertop Convection Oven
  • Refrigerated Bakery/Deli Cases
  • Displays Shelves/Racks
  • POS system
  • Security/Surveillance camera system
  • To-Go Bags/Take Out Bags
  • Napkin Dispensers
  • Plastic Cutlery
  • Condiments
  • Commercial Ice Cream Freezers
  • LED Signs*
  • Janitorial Disposable and Supplies*
  • Hot Dog Equipment*


* = Not mandatory

 

Sample List of Purchases

A typical person looking to purchase equipment for a convenience store might make the following purchases:

  Grand Total: $15,043.94 

 

Key Decisions


Here are some of the most important buying decisions that your convenience store will have to make. We outline the key considerations you’ll need to keep in mind when making these purchases and provide some popular options.

 

Considerations When Buying a Commercial Cooler for Beverages

A commercial cooler, also known as a refrigerated merchandiser, displays the beverages that you are selling at your store. They vary in price depending on the size and style of the cooler, but often cost over $1,500. Here are some important considerations when picking the right cooler for your convenience store:

Location of the Condenser/Compressor Unit

This is the mechanical part that works to keep the refrigerator and its contents cool. There are two types of coolers: top-mounted and bottom-mounted.

Top-mounted coolers offer more storage space and attract less dirt. However, they require high ceilings and may use more energy.

Bottom-mounted coolers consume less energy and are easier to maintain. However, the condenser fan may attract dust and require more frequent cleaning.

Glass Door Type

Commercial coolers have two basic options for doors: swing doors and sliding doors.

Swing doors are easy to operate and are usually self-closing, meaning that there is little risk of wasting energy if a door is accidentally left open. However, they require more floor space to open and may obstruct traffic in your store during peak hours.


Sliding doors are a great, space-saving option. However, you will want to regularly check to make sure all cooler doors are completely closed. Otherwise you may lose money on high utility bills.

Warranty

Refrigerated merchandisers are expensive and will be a significant portion of your store’s startup costs. Make sure you look for brands that offer an extended warranty to cover possible damage to the mechanical components of your cooler.

Size

Make sure you know the exact dimensions of the floor space where you want to place your coolers. Also, think about the amount of beverages and other chilled inventory items you wish to display to make sure you have enough cooler space to store everything.

Energy Efficiency

Consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious. You may want to consider an energy efficient product, for instance, a cooler with “energy star” label.

 

Considerations When Buying A Food Display Case

Depending on what type of food you’re planning to offer at your convenience store, you’ll need to find a display case that suits all your needs. Here are some considerations to keep in mind before buying:

Temperature

Are you offering sushi, sandwiches, pizza, salad, chicken wings, or baked goods at your convenience store? Find out the best temperature for the food you want to serve and buy a cool/warm food display case, preferably with an adjustable temperature control.

Humidity

To keep your perishable food items fresh, you may want to store them under different levels of humidity.

Most sandwiches and baked treats need to be stored in high-humidity refrigerated cases. Apples, bagels, and certain kinds of bread, on the other hand, are better stored in low-humidity conditions.

Depending on the variety of foods you offer, you may need a display unit with adjustable humidity controls.

Lighting

Lighting of the display case affect the aesthetic appeal of the food you’re selling. It is very important that your store’s food looks appealing to your customers.  

Ideally, you can check the lighting conditions on the case before you make a purchase. Try turning on the lights to make sure the entire case is well-lit so that each item will be visible.

Shelving

The right shelving of your display case will increase your storage space when it is done in the right way. Consider the items you’ll be selling and choose the proper number of shelves, keeping in mind the necessary shelf depth and height you will need.

Case Access

There are two types of access for the display cases: front or back.

The front access display case allows customers to select their own items, while the back access case requires a staff member to retrieve goods.

 

Considerations When Buying A Drink Dispenser

Types of Drink Dispensers

Depending on the types of drink you’re offering, your choice of drink dispenser will differ. Here are some of the dispensers you may want to consider:

  • Soda fountain
  • Hot chocolate/Cappuccino Dispenser
  • Coffee Maker
  • Hot Water Dispenser
  • Juice Dispenser
  • Refrigerated Drink Dispenser

Type and Amount of Ice

An ice dispenser doesn’t automatically come with a drink dispenser, so make sure you get an ice/soda combo unit if you are serving cold beverages.

Ice machines can serve ice cubes, ice nuggets, or a mix of both. Find the machine with the right ice storage capacity according to the amount of beverage you’re selling.

Target Market

Do some research into your neighborhood will help you determine whether there’s need for a drink dispenser and types of drinks to offer. For instance, a soda fountain is commonplace at a convenience store near the beach during the summer, while a convenience store near an office building will usually have coffee machines.

Alongside the demographic of your customers, think about the store location, season (holiday, winter vs. summer) and local market trends as well.  

Portion Control

Typically, some drinks like hot chocolate required proportionate amount of water with cocoa mix, so it is necessary to buy a drink dispenser with portion control. Meanwhile other drinks do not requires this function.

 

 

 

 

 

Best Places to Buy


There are many convenience store equipment suppliers online, pick the ones that have well maintained websites, constant social media presence (if they have one), and decent customer reviews. Give them a call to ask about discounts if possible.

Here are some sample websites that are good potential sources for equipment buying:

Alternatively, you can buy popular brand name equipment for your business, a few you may want to consider are:


Refrigerators

Ice Machines

Food Countertops and Display Cases

Often times, some big-name brands are owned by the same company. Trimark, for example, owns a number of organizations that sell food-related equipment. These large corporation websites can be a good resource for finding the different items your store will need.


Note: If your budget is rather limited, you may want to search for used equipment first to get yourself established.