By Ken Jackson
In the battle for your convenience store dollar, a not-so-new player has jumped, with both its feet and pouch, right into the fray.
Kangaroo outlets around Kissimmee have remodeled their stores and upgraded their offerings to compete with local newcomers Wawa and Racetrack.
Over the last two weeks, stores in St. Cloud and Kissimmee have celebrated their “New at the Roo” with food specials (25 cent hot dogs and free coffee, anyone?), coupons and prize giveaways.
At the Buenaventura location on Nov. 7, a costumed kangaroo — the company’s mascot — surprised fuel patrons by offering to pump their gas.
While the stores are receiving business and notoriety, they aren’t hesitating to give back to their communities. At the “re-grand opening” of sorts at stores on 13th Street in St. Cloud, Thacker Avenue in Kissimmee and Buenaventura Boulevard in Buenaventura Lakes, the chain made financial contributions to area youth sports organizations.
Neptune Middle School, Poinciana Predators Youth Football and the Osceola Family Sports Association each received a $2,500 donation on behalf of Kangaroo.
District manager Bill Dreher, who oversees seven stores in Osceola and Orange County, said the company wanted to make an impact in the neighborhoods it serves.
“There are lots of charities, but we wanted to do something for our community, something we’d be able to see,” he said. “The community has made us what we are and this is our way of giving back.”
Osceola Family Sports Association conducts its practices and games at Archie Griffin Park. The Joe Day Fields — named after the association’s founder who passed away three years ago — are no more than a mile from the Buenaventura location. Association co-founder and treasurer Beverly Day, Joe’s widow, said the money will go toward new helmets and shoulder pads — and is sorely needed.
“Football is not a cheap sport, and we’ve only raised our registration fees $25 in 12 years,” she said. “We will recognize Kangaroo at our banquet at the end of the year. And to their benefit, most of the organization lives right around here and I know some come into this store.”
Some of the new store offerings include upgraded Bean Street Coffee serving stations, offerings and dispensers with customizations like extra boosts of caffeine and whipped topping, new iced tea and beverage selections and a bakery case featuring glazed doughnuts and other pastries.
“Kangaroo invested some dollars to make it better for the neighborhood,” Dreher said. “Our market is getting saturated, so we’ve done this to keep up with it and I think it’s paying off.”
Dreher said he hopes a high level of customer service is what sets the Kangaroo stores apart in the marketplace.
“For us, it’s the people,” he said. “The customers have been wowed by the changes, and our employees have become very proud of the locations. They look great.”