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ATLANTA – In his first speech as NACS chairman, Brad Call of Maverik Inc. spoke to his convenience store industry peers about the freedom of choice as it relates to the country's fight to reduce obesity and get Americans healthier and more active.
“It’s an awesome thing that our nation is focusing on health, fitness and fighting obesity. So, as retailers, what’s our responsibility? Your responsibility and my responsibility are to provide healthy choice options. But it’s not our responsibility to tell customers what they should and shouldn’t eat,” he explained.
According to Call, one of the main reasons for Maverik’s success over the years -- the chain's first store was opened by his grandfather Reuel Call in the fall of 1928 -- is freedom, which is also coincidentally the name of his hometown in Wyoming.
“We should all have the freedom to make our own choices, right? In our stores, that means our customers should be able to make their own choices without anyone telling them what they can — or what they can’t — buy,” Call said, noting that the New York City mayor's proposed 16-ounce beverage ban wouldn’t sit well with thirsty construction workers “who depend on our stores for their day’s hydration.”
Customers should be free to choose what they want to consume, Call said, noting that Maverik's adventure-themed convenience stores offer both higher-calorie items and healthy products.
The incoming NACS chairman also stressed that consuming calories ("calories in") shouldn’t be the only focus in addressing obesity. Burning them off ("calories out") through physical activity and exercise is equally, if not more, important. Maverik is developing an app that will reward people for their exercise. After they earn enough points, they will receive some sort of treat from the stores.
The basic message is, “Work up a sweat, then come to our stores to re-energize,” Call said.
Customizing a famous quote about freedom by the philosopher Camus, he concluded by saying: “Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better — without some pencil-neck regulator or ivory-tower legislator telling you how to do it. Freedom allows us to take chances, to get a little crazy, to be adventurous and to give customers what they want. I love living in Freedom!”
The NACS Show ran Oct. 12-15 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.