Gas station convenience stores represent a microcosm of how capitalists are adapting to changing market conditions and surviving.
When times are difficult, I believe that’s when the greatest creativity and ingenuity occurs. Recently, I was reading a story about the convenience store industry. (Unfortunately, I don’t recall the source.) The crux of the story was this: As we drive cars with better and better fuel efficiency, what do you do if you’re running a gas station convenience store? How do you attract people in as they need to fill up less and less?
The beauty of capitalism is that it’s self-renewing and creative. I think about the culling of the herd in gas stations. When you drive around, you see boarded up stations all over the place. But other stations figure out how to survive.
Today, as I drove around Greenboro, N.C., I passed two Sheetz locations. That’s when I remembered the founder was interviewed for the article I was reading. He was quotes as saying that he can’t just be gas station and expect to survive; he has to give another reason for you to come there.
So at the two Sheetz locations I passed, I noticed what was like a picnic area with fancy tables and umbrellas where you can take the fresh food you just purchased. Those Sheetz locations might have gone extinct if they stayed as they were five years ago, being just a gas station convenience store.
This message has relevance on the individual level too. Never go through life with blinders on. Look for the wider changes and figure out how to adapt to survive those. Be ready to reinvent yourself for success. If you stay doing what you’re doing, well, who knows what will happen.
Editor’s note: Today’s broadcast originated from Greensboro, N.C., as Clark was on book tour for his New York Times No. 1 bestselling book, Clark Howard’s Living Large in Lean Times. Special thanks to FM Talk 101.1 WZTK for hosting Clark during the event.