Improvement Plan Summary
Rodrigues and Brianna Cowans relocated to the Enon Ridge neighborhood two years ago to operate her grandfather’s convenience store, which had been out of commission for more than ten years. The young couple has big dreams to rebrand R & M as 3rd Street Market and serve the grocery needs of not just the neighborhood, but of Birmingham as the city grows.
Store Improvement Strategies
A discovery meeting, store walk-through and a communications planning session identified the following opportunities for improvement:
Customer Engagement & Store reorganization
R & M has a loyal customer base due to the Cowans’ intentional customer service, care and engagement. Through customer surveys the Cowans are identifying an increased desire for grocery products, and in response, have moved alcohol to the back of the store and pulled grocery items including fresh produce, frozen meats and vegetables to the front. Doing so has increased grocery sales and is beginning to help them achieve their goals.
Expanded Cold Storage
Acquisition of separate coolers for fresh meats, dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables support product diversification and better meets market demand. R & M aims to purchase an open-air cooler to display fresh produce.
Better serving the food needs of the community means providing whole ingredients and healthier options for meal planning. Urban Food Project recommends its partners sell 3 items from each of the following categories: fruits, vegetables, dairy and no sugar added beverages, whole grains and healthy snacks. For those with storage capacity, lean protein options are strongly recommended. With support from REV Birmingham’s UFP, R & M is now carrying Alabama-grown fresh fruit and vegetables along with low-fat milk, brown rice, dry beans, whole wheat bread, water and juice.
Communications Planning & Rebranding
REV Birmingham is facilitating communications planning and rebranding through a visioning and creative process to clarify R & M’s mission, vision and core values. Through this process, R & M has articulated their desire to make Enon Ridge a vibrant, healthy and welcoming place to live. This narrative will guide their new brand and all of their company’s strategic plans moving forward. Next steps include refinement of a creative brief for branding.
Improved in-store signage will communicate basic price, promotions and deals to drive meal-making and increased shopping. Utilization of traditional retail strategies such as shelf talkers, hanging signage and endcaps will allow customers to more easily identify price points and sale items. Use of endcaps for marketing sale, seasonal or promotional items encourages meal-making. They also plan to display window signage and in-store signage communicating fresh meal-making options.
Business Growth Assistance: Coaching & CO.STARTERS
In addition to REV Birmingham’s ongoing business coaching, the Cowans will participate in CO.STARTERS this fall. This 10-week intensive business workshop encourages participants to validate their business concept through customer engagement and piloting of sales strategies. Through this process, R & M will test their desire to incorporate more grocery items. The outcomes will determine next steps.
Future: Façade & Site Improvements
Façade improvement includes windows, roof, sidewalk and parking. Until capital is identified, these improvement remain long-term goals.
R & M Convenience Store is located at 1403 3rd Street N Birmingham, AL 35204
Hours: 7 am – 9 pm
After opening Chocolatà Artisanal Chocolatier in 2017, Kathy D’Agostino has enjoyed watching the once quiet streets of downtown Birmingham come back to life. REV sat down with her to learn more about how she landed here, where she thinks the city is heading, and why Chocolata believes in Birmingham.