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Better Day, Better Nights

BY Marianne Wilson

One of the biggest challenges confronting store operators and facility managers is how to make a facility appear safe and inviting at night. Better Day BP, a gasoline station, convenience store and car wash in Racine, Wis., overcame the problem with light-emitting diode (LED) technology.

“By installing LEDs, the station is lit brighter than if we had lighted it with conventional fixtures,” said Tom Tousis, owner, Better Day BP. “The lights give everything a very clean look.”

Better Day BP opened in November. Tousis made the decision to go with LED technology midway through construction. Originally, he had planned a more traditional lighting strategy.

“But we saw the LED product (from Beta Lighting, a division of Ruud Lighting, Sturtevant, Wis.) at a petroleum marketers trade show and loved the way it looked,” he explained.

In addition to appearance, Tousis was motivated to implement LED lighting because of the opportunity it offered to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and for its related energy-saving potential.

“The look projected by the LEDs is matched by the benefits of their excellent energy savings,” he added. “The projected energy use of the LEDs is two-thirds less that of traditional fixtures.”

Initially, Tousis was put off by the higher upfront cost of the lighting as compared to the more conventional metal-halide strategy. But when he put the cost of the LEDs on a spreadsheet that projected into the future, he saw that the initial cost would be offset by long-term savings with regard to energy use as well as maintenance and life expectancy.

“When you added up all these factors, it didn’t make sense not to go with LEDs,” Tousis said.

The owner was impressed that LEDS require virtually no maintenance.

“We haven’t serviced them once since we installed them,” he noted. “The lack of maintenance gives us one less thing to do and one less bill to pay.”

Better Day BP is outfitted exclusively with LED technology, and features 24 canopy lights, three pole lights and 29 exterior wall lights. It boasts that it is the first gas station in the nation to use all-LED lighting (the car-wash signs are also lit with LEDs).

Tousis plans to outfit the interior of the store with the technology, also.

“We’re still working on it, but the goal is for the interior to be fully lit with LEDs,” he added. “We plan to switch over as soon as the fixtures are ready.”

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Michaels comps down for the quarter

BY CSA STAFF

IRVING, Texas Michaels Stores reported that total sales for the quarter were $847 million, a 1% increase from fiscal 2007 first quarter sales of $839 million. Same-store sales for the comparable 13-week period decreased 2.9%.

Ceo, Brian Cornell, said, “While our overall comps for the first quarter declined 2.9%, we were very encouraged with the sales of our kids and specialty craft categories, scrapbooking and frame and art supplies. Sales in April showed a reversal of trend with same-store sales up 3.1% on a strong increase in transactions. This positive sales and transaction performance gives us confidence that our new marketing and merchandising programs are connecting with our Michaels customers.”

For fiscal 2008, the company expects same-store sales growth  to be approximately flat given the current economic environment.

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Kirkland’s 1Q sales up 2.1%

BY CSA STAFF

JACKSON, Tenn. Kirkland’s reported that net sales for the first quarter ended May 3 increased 2.1% to $84.1 million from $82.3 million for the first quarter ended May 5, 2007. Comparable-store sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2008 increased 4.3% compared with an 18.8% comparable-stores sales decrease in the first quarter of fiscal 2007.

The company reported a net loss of $2.6 million, or 13 cents per diluted share, for the 13-week period ended May 3, 2008, compared with a net loss of $7.5 million, or 38 cents per diluted share, in the 13-week period ended May 5, 2007.

Robert Alderson, Kirkland’s president and ceo, said, “The first quarter results reflect strong merchandising execution and the benefits of aggressive financial initiatives that have reduced our operating costs, improved cash flow and strengthened our liquidity. During the quarter, we experienced improved customer conversions as shoppers have reacted very favorably to our merchandise mix. The positive comparable-store sales and trimming of unproductive stores led to leveraging of occupancy and distribution costs. Combined with an improvement in merchandise margin and a year-over-year reduction in operating costs of almost $5 million, we were able to post a significant improvement in our pre-tax results.

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