Since developing Kwik Shop as a division of its grocery business nearly 50 years ago, Dillon Cos. — and its successor, Kroger, which purchased Dillon in 1983 — have grown through the acquisition of other regional c-store chains. In recent years, Kroger has begun to unite them through common programs and a new logo illustrating a nationwide presence that together they encompass. Following is a brief look at the history of its four convenience banners.
Founded: 1960 IN HUTCHINSON, KAN.
Stores: 129 IN KANSAS, NEBRASKA AND IOWA
Founded as a division of Dillon Cos., and developed by Dick Dillon, the Kwik Shop concept combined “the time-saving and personalized service of a small store with supermarket efficiency in management, inventory control and merchandising,” according to a company history. Kwik Shop takes credit for introducing some iconic and ubiquitous elements of the convenience store industry: Fountain drinks in all stores, and the fresh hot dog roller grill. Michael Hoffman, Kwik Shop's former president, was appointed as Kroger's director of c-store bridging earlier this year.
Founded: 1966 IN FREMONT, CALIF.
Stores: 106 IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA AND NEVADA
Quik Stop was purchased by the Dillon Cos. in 1970. It is the only division of Kroger that is not self-distributed (CoreMark) and is largely run by franchisees. Van Tarver, who in 2006 was named vice president of Kroger's convenience store and petroleum division, is a former president at Quik Stop.
TURKEY HILL MINIT MARKET
Founded: 1967 IN LANCASTER, PA.
Stores: 240 IN PENNSYLVANIA
Founded in 1967 as a means to market dairy products from a dairy of the same name, Turkey Hill grew through acquisition and innovation (it introduced self-serve gasoline in Pennsylvania) and was acquired by Dillon Cos. — by then a subsidiary of Kroger — in 1985. Turkey Hill has subsequently become a powerful brand name in dairy products and markets the best-selling iced tea in the convenience channel.
Founded: 1953 IN CRESTVIEW, FLA.
Stores: 126 IN FLORIDA AND ALABAMA
With roots dating back to the Walton Grocery chain in 1953, Tom Thumb emerged in 1979 from the combination of three family businesses (Buy Quik, Walton Grocery and Jr. Food Stores). Dillon Cos. acquired it in 1985. In 1995, the company's president, Steve Johnson, its vice president, Wyatt Fuqua, and Bob Meyers, a Dillon Co. vice president, were killed in a car accident. Darel Pfieff, of Loaf 'N Jug, was named president. Tom Thumb in 2007 introduced a pharmacy at a convenience store in Pensacola, Fla. — a first for Kroger.
LOAF 'N JUG
Founded: 1968 IN CASPER, WYO.; 1973 IN FOWLER, COLO.
Stores: 174 IN COLORADO, WYOMING, NORTH DAKOTA, SOUTH DAKOTA, MONTANA, NEBRASKA, OKLAHOMA AND NEW MEXICO
Loaf 'N Jug was founded as two separate companies that were acquired by Dillon Cos. in 1986 (Loaf 'N Jug) and 1987 (Mini Mart). Kroger merged the divisions in Pueblo, Colo., in 1998 and rebranded all stores under the Loaf 'N Jug banner in 2005. The chain's name comes from a popular translation of an 11th-century poem by Omar Khayyam.