Local company hopes to innovate convenience stores

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A new company has bought 300 convenience stores in Virginia and Maryland, including the 44 Uppy's gas stations in Greater Richmond.

The company is Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores, or MACS, and they've set up a test kitchen to change the way you buy convenience store food. They're launching their own blend of coffee.

Said Jim Summers, MACS President and COO, "It's going to be that cup of coffee that you go 'Wow, that's really good.' So we've done a lot of testing and tasting on that."

They have a special lid to keep your tea bag from soaking too long in your tea. Summers showed us the lid with slits in the middle, "Your tea bag actually pulls up inside this after your done steeping it and the tea bag stays up in here."

They're cooking empty pizza boxes to see how they hold up in the heat, and testing new foods, like a dispenser for hot oatmeal in a cup, and Miller Beer bratwurst. Their local staff of more than 60 employees are the taste testers. Said Summers, "That's the great thing about working here. Everybody comes in an they'll taste different things."

MACS just opened its headquarters in South Richmond after buying more than 300 gas and convenience stores, making it one of the largest Exxon Mobile fuel distributors in the country. Summers explained, "We started out with the original 44 Uppy's stores that are here in Richmond and bought all the Exxon Mobile assets up in Northern Virginia and Maryland."

The company is currently conducting consumer research to find a potential name to unify all their stores. And they plan to redesign the exterior of the stores to make them look similar. You'll start noticing changes this year.

And MACS is hoping to grow. Summers says he isn't phased by the growth of other local convenience stores, such as Wawa, Sheets, Fas Mart, Shell and 7-11. "There's room for us to grow and there's room for the others to grow," he said.

The company is holding the grand opening of its headquarters tomorrow.

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