Regional Convenience Store Chains We Wish Were Everywhere

You've loaded the whole family into the car and are well on your way to enjoying the next family road trip. After journeying for some time, you discover the car needs gas, and your family is in need of a pit stop and a snack. You begin searching road signs advertising convenience stores in the coming exits, searching for some of your favorites.

Advertisement

Before long, you spot the logo you're looking for and make your way to that most esteemed stop. But what draws you to that convenience store even though others abound? In all likelihood, it's a combination of cleanliness, quality of service and food, variety of offerings, and just the general vibe of the location.

All of these factors come together to help form our feelings on particular convenience stores, and although convenience stores dot the entire country, there are some more regional stones that are much more limited. We've found that these locations tend to be so great, they become part of the journey itself. Even still, we can't help hoping that these regional convenience stores make their way into locations far and wide, wherever we may be.

Advertisement

Casey's General Store

If you've familiar with Casey's General Store, there's a good chance you know it for the breakfast pizza with eggs and bacon and any number of different toppings. It's an easy grab and go offering that frequents workplace lounges across the middle of the country with locations stretching from Minnesota to Texas, but mostly inhabiting the center of the country. Interestingly enough, Casey's tend to show up in some of the smallest towns you'll find in the United States. Though travelers on their journeys no doubt create great business for Casey's, it's the teacher on the way to work grabbing Casey's breakfast pizza for the lounge or the administrative assistant picking up their bosses' favorite breakfast that make this place special.

Advertisement

This is the place to stop for great pizza and donuts. They don't just make great road trip foods, either — they're so tasty, in fact, that locals will bring these items back home to enjoy. Once you move away from a Casey's, it won't be long before you start missing that hometown feel and breakfast pizza; that's really what keeps people coming back to these stores.

Buc-ee's

When you think of a convenience store, you're probably imagining an in and out place where you fill up, take a bathroom break, grab a snack, and head out. But if you're going to Buc-ee's, prepare to stay for a minute because there's a whole lot to see and taste. Buc-ee's has plenty to be excited about and is something of a destination in its own right, and do be sure to keep your head on a swivel or you'll surely miss something. It's a stimulation overload in the best way.

Advertisement

Known widely across the south as much more than your typical convince store, the vibe here is playful and delicious with a toothy beaver mascot. What really makes people fall in love is the quality of the food, super clean bathrooms, and over-the-top kind staff. Buc-ee's also has the largest convenience store in the world at an impressive 74,707 square feet. It might be a favorite rest stop on reload trips, but having a Buc-ee's in your own town is a widely held dream for many in the American South.

Wawa

Wawa got its start in the food business in 1902 as a dairy and morphed into a food market in the '60s, but before that, Wawa Inc. was an iron foundry. The brand calls its team a "flock" since the name Wawa comes from an Ojibwe word given for the English-named Canadian Goose. You'll of course see this represented in the brand's logo as you sip your Wawa beverage of choice.

Advertisement

Convenience stores don't typically bring to mind tasty drinks, but if you like near a Wawa, you know the magic of a Wawa drink. Scattered throughout several states in Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, Wawa has your road trip covered with coffee, breakfast treats, a lunch or dinner on the go, donut for the road, and more fresh offerings. In addition to its fun name and delicious food and drink, Wawa is a staple in many homes for its milk which claims to be something of a more rich tasting offering. While milk may not be the most impressive commodity on the assets list, Wawa's hoagie and drink offerings are Wawa's calling card and what keeps people coming back, even after moving away. 

Stewart's Shops

You'll find Stewart's Shops throughout New York and in some locations in Vermont. These convenience stores offer the typical fare as well as specialty packaged drinks and ice cream that is exclusive to the stores. What really makes this one special is just how limited it is. With a history dating back well over 100 years, Stewart's Shops are something of a favorite in New York. People who love Stewart's carry it as something of a core memory, eliciting memories from childhood and statewide road trips. Then, there are families that take that love to new places, like the Freemann family who visited all 358 open Stwart's locations in 2022. 

Advertisement

The only problem with the small town feel is that it's hard to replicate on a bigger model. As soon as something grows, it begins to rapidly change, especially to fit a larger presence and broader audience. So while we would love to see Stewart's Shops everywhere, we know that its small town feel would probably suffer to some degree.

Sheetz

Sheetz began very humbly in 1952, but has grown substantially both in offerings and locations. The brand is focused on taking care of people through its customers, employees, and communities. For many customers, the draw here is the food with a highly customizable menu through a long standing made to order model.

Advertisement

Sheetz would take umbrage with anyone calling it simply a gas station. Rather it's much more of a restaurant that happens to have gas on the, well, menu. It's clear from Sheetz marketing that the goal here is to make even a stop to pick up gas fun, and perhaps even entice you to plan to come for a meal rather than just a convenience store run. Like Buc-ee's, Sheetz is a destination all to itself, even offering a clothing line to show love for the brand.

Parker's Convenience Stores

The name of the game at Parker's is clean and friendly. While there's not much extraordinary about this concept, if you've ever visited a dirty restroom on a roadtrip or been greeted by less than kind staff, you know that these two basics aren't basic at all. It's an ideal place to stop before heading to the beach or just making your way about your busy day.

Advertisement

Though exclusive to Georgia's coastline, we would love to see the classic, southern charm become more of a mainstay across the country. In addition to that southern hospitality, in some locations, you can enjoy some true Southern cooking with fried chicken and all the fixings. And for those hoping for something a little more refreshing, pick up a fountain drink with some widely beloved crunchy ice.

Rutter's

Rutter's holds an impressive distinction. It's the country's oldest vertically integrated food company, meaning that the company has control over not only the production of the items that make their way to the customer, but also the sales of the items themselves. You'll find Rutter's across Pennsylvania and in Maryland, as well as a few locations in West Virginia.

Advertisement

At Rutter's, you can sip from specialty milk flavors in unique varieties including classic chocolate as well as more intriguing options like orange cream, chocolate peanut butter, cotton candy, chocolate chip mint, and even pumpkin pie. What's even more fun than milk? Spiked slushies. That's certainly not something we would expect from a convenience store, and it's worth the longing to have one of these in every corner of the country.

Weigel's Stores

Rutter's isn't the only one stocking crave-worthy flavored milk. The banana pudding milk at Weigel's, for example, is adorably packaged with a sweet label and even sweeter flavor. There are other varieties that come out throughout the year as well, almost like a rotating seasonal menu.

Advertisement

At Weigel's, you may notice a fresher milk taste, and this may be in large part to the lower pasteurization temperature and transportation from farm to store within 24 hours. In addition to the unique flavors of milk, there are packaged snacks, pizzas, baked goods, coffee, and even frozen drinks. Although part of Weigel's charm is its Tennessee exclusivity, we wish that flavored milk was accessible more widely. It may seem strange for a milk to make a convenience store what it is, most Weigel's customers will attest that it's the pizza and milk you'll fall for.

Kelley's Market

In northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, the absolute king of convenience stores is a Kelley's Market. These stores are connected to many Mobil gas stations in the area. In addition to being exceptionally clean, the locations tend to vary in their offerings, making trips to different Kelly's Markets different from one another. This difference certainly keeps things interesting and allows for the brand to offer a variety of foods and services for customers.

Advertisement

In some select locations, you'll find Noble Romans Pizza, while others will feature a sub sandwich shop called Which Wich. At all locations, you'll see access to coffee and specialty drinks as well as a high-level of cleanliness. With the level of care that is put into cleaning and variety, it's the type of convenience store we'd like to see stretch beyond the Midwest.

Raceway

With locations across 11 states in the South, Raceway convenience stores are frequent stops. One of the more interesting parts about Raceway is that each location is owned by a franchisee. As a result, when you visit a Raceway, you're not always 100% sure what the store will offer.

Advertisement

This might seem disappointing if you are expecting a certain kind of food or drink, but if you're looking for a little bit of adventure on the road, checking out what different Raceways along your trip might be a very enjoyable experience. The locations are clean and well-run, and one of its driving differentiating properties is just how different they all are. This difference is intriguing enough to have these stations in more places across the United States which would certainly invite even more difference from location to location. A Raceway in Virginia, for example, would certainly be different than one in Texas.

Kum & Go

If you're anything like us, you got a good giggle out of the name of this convenience store. Kum & Go knows exactly what its doing, anticipating that its double entendre branding makes for highly marketable merchandise which Kum & Go even sells online.

Advertisement

The 12 states that Kum & Go calls home are blessed with fountain drink specialties and options that allow you to create a sip with different players of soda and extra shots of flavor. It's definitely a more unique way to enjoy sodas that we wish were more accessible throughout the U.S. Unfortunately, this convenience store will be getting a name makeover with a sale of the brand to Maverik, a company out of Utah. The rebrand will surely eliminate the giggles, but we wish there were more to enjoy before the name is, well, goes.

Cumberland Farms

Largely a New England favorite, Cumberland Farms — or Cumby's, as it's also affectionately known — looks different as soon as you begin pulling into the parking lot. Most of the buildings are a mix of white, gray, and cream, and the stacked brick on the outside of the stores adds an effect to the scene that makes it just feel upscale. We're also particular fans of the landscaping many have with trees and bushes to really make it feel like a relaxing place to be — definitely something that's nice to see on a gas run.

Advertisement

We'd love to see this vibe in more convenience stores around the country. Not to mention, the coffee is quite popular as a much less expensive option than many coffee shops. For those that swear by it, they're certainly saving some money when it comes to that coffee run.

Town Pump

When it came to looking for institutions that were isolated to a very small region, there were only a few, and the Town Pump is definitely one of them. Like the Raceway convenience stores, there is no set way for these convenience stores to operate. Some of them are in very old buildings while others are in brand new locations. Every now and again, you find a location with gambling offered, while others have McDonald's counters inside.

Advertisement

The excitement here has everything to do with what exactly you're going to find at a specific location. While most convenience stores we looked at had pretty consistent offerings from place to place, or at least you could find out what was available where, it's a little bit of a mystery when it comes to Town Pump. If you enjoy a good scavenger hunt and you're passing through Montana, stopping at a Town Pump to see just what awaits could be a great use of some down time. Alongside convenience stores that we know exactly what to expect, we wish there were more Town Pumps that offered a little more intrigue and diversity between offerings.

Wally's

If Town Pump was a limited offering, Wally's is far more so with locations in only two towns: Pontiac, Illinois and Fenton, Missouri. Calling itself "Home of the Great American Roadtrip," if there's one thing that this convenience store needs, it's more locations.

Advertisement

Here, you'll find products themed for the brand that celebrate excitement and have a playful feel. The convenience store was created to inject life back into the roadtrip. If you and your family love the retro vibe, this will be one exciting spot.

Inside, the locations are open and feel very comfortable with plenty of options for your roadtrip snack or drink, complete with BBQ, frozen drinks, and even a cafe. If you've forgotten something for your camping trip, they may even have you covered with extra supply shopping. If only there were a few more!

Royal Farms

Spreading locations across seven states in the east, Royal Farms has plenty of reason to celebrate having been awarded USA Today's reader's choice favorite gas station food. Whether you've visited a location or not, this accolade certainly calls for a certain amount of attention. If you choose one item to try, the chicken is probably your best bet as it's the item so many rave about.

Advertisement

While many convenience stores are designed to be destinations during your road trip, breaking into the takeout business is tough. However, with meals that include chicken, potato wedges, and other favorite sides, we'd love another delicious chicken chain to become more widely available. After all, what's the harm in having more options to choose from when it comes to fried chicken?

Allsup's

With locations in New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma, Allsup's claim to fame is its burritos. Like other chains, you can get some pretty unique sodas from the fountain, but it'll be the burritos that will make you want to move south to be closer to a location if it can't be closer to you.

Advertisement

In addition to the burritos, you'll find branded snacks, candies, and baked goods for dessert. Other than these burritos, the Allsup's you visit will probably feel like a convenience store that doesn't feel ultra unique. But that's the power that our favorite foods hold, especially those that are unique to a certain place. They make us venture far out of our way for something like a burrito, even one that comes from a convenience store.

Recommended

Advertisement