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    Casey's Goes From Country Roots to City Lights

    Metro Omaha, Neb., is a growth spot for the convenience store retailer.

    OMAHA, Neb. -- Casey's General Stores Inc. has built its reputation serving Small Town USA. Now, the convenience store operator is expanding its reach and popping up in more urban areas.

    One state that is seeing Casey's step out of its rural roots is Nebraska. In the past, the retailer was a familiar site in Nebraska communities with fewer than 5,000 residents, such as Wymore and Hebron. Today, according to The Omaha World Herald, Casey's is opening its doors on more suburban and even some urban corners.

    Notably,  Casey's now has 13 locations in the Omaha metro area, with more to come, and its recent acquisition of 24 Stop-N-Go stores brings Casey's into the Fargo, N.D., metropolitan area, the report added.

    The Ankeny, Iowa-based retailer has grown its Nebraska portfolio from 62 c-stores 10 years ago to its current 125. That number makes Casey's a top convenience store operator in the state. However, other chains are following the retailer's lead and building up their Nebraska holdings. This includes Cubby's, Bucky's and Kum & Go, the news outlet said.

    In the past four years, acquisitions of the Kabredlos, Holiday and U-Stop retail chains gave Casey's a presence in Bellevue and Omaha and doubled its presence in Council Bluffs to six stores. Casey's has replaced or remodeled most of those urban and suburban stores with bigger models. Its new store design emphasizes prepared food and fountain drinks.

    Casey's is not turning its back on its small-town roots, but the retailer has seen growth in more densely populated areas. More than 16 percent of its stores today are in communities of more than 20,000 people, compared with 11 percent a decade ago.

    "We're trying to get more of a presence in the Omaha metro area," Casey's Chief Financial Officer Bill Walljasper told the newspaper. "We've found that metro area to be a very good partnership."

    He said the chain is looking at new locations in the Omaha metro area, but would not say how many or where. Across the 14 states where it has locations, the company plans to build or acquire as many as 105 stores in fiscal 2014, and replace 20 existing locations.

    Walljasper said a rural location is ideal for foodservice because of fewer competitors. For example, pizza delivery is a bonus feature of Casey's stores in smaller towns, but not in Omaha where only one metro area store offers the delivery service.

    However, even in Omaha's suburbs, a convenience store can still compete with restaurants on quick service and an array of offerings, he told the newspaper.

    "It offers an opportunity for customers, especially in metropolitan areas that are a little more on the go than in rural areas; the opportunity to stop in and be the one-stop shop," Walljasper said.

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