Thirty years ago, Stewart’s Shops had one basic design for its convenience stores: brick facade and mansard roof with cedar shingles on it.
Stewart’s is building larger, brighter, more complex shops that blend in with the neighborhood where they are situated, said Nancy Trimbur, Stewart’s senior vice president for facilities.
“We have evolved over the years,” Trimbur said.
Stewart’s Shops Corp., with headquarters on Route 9 in Malta, has grown from 150 shops in the early 1980s to 328 shops today in two states — New York and Vermont.
The early shops were all 2,000 square feet. They were built for easy maintenance, Trimbur said.
The bricks used on the outside of these early shops were recycled bricks, giving them an aged look.
“We eliminated the cedar shake [roof materials] and replaced it with a bronze metal roof,” Trimbur said.
The corporation also started making their shops larger. First, the footprint was enlarged to 2,300 square feet and then to 2,500 square feet.
The larger store is more efficient to operate and allows for the display of more products and more counter space for customers, she said.
A good example of Stewart’s latest store design is the new Stewart’s Shop on Route 146 near Plant Road in the town of Halfmoon.
The corporation kept the existing, older store in operation until the new store near it was built and ready to open. The old store was then demolished over a 24-hour period on May 16 and the new store opened.
Trimbur said this new store cost approximately $1.2 million, including the purchase of additional property at the site.
This same system of replacement was used at Stewart’s Shops in Loudonville and Albany last year.
The next step at the Halfmoon Stewart’s is replacing the existing gas pumps and canopy with new models. The underground gas tanks, which were replaced in recent years, will remain.
“Our current look fits into all sorts of environments,” Trimbur said.
The Halfmoon shop has light-colored siding and a double roof line.
“We try to produce a store to fit into the [local] environment and is acceptable to the planning board,” she said.
In the case of the Stewart’s Shop in Manchester, Vt., the design was “directed very much by the planning board,” she said. That Stewart’s was designed to have a residential look as dictated by stringent local planning guidelines.
When the Manchester Stewart’s opened some years ago, it looked very different from the normal Stewart’s Shop.
Today, this type of local theme can be seen in the new Stewart’s in Lake George and one in North Queensbury. Both of these shops have an Adirondack theme.
Stewart’s is constantly upgrading, replacing and locating new stores.
At any given time, the corporation has as few as three and as many as six or seven construction projects in motion.
For example, the Stewart’s Shop on Northern Pines Road near Route 9 in the town of Wilton has just undergone a face-lift.
Trimbur said Stewart’s moved into a building at the Wilton location that was built for another convenience store chain. She said this renovation and redesign of the shop brings the store into the 21st century.
Stewart’s Corp uses outside contractors to build new stores and construct additions to existing stores.
She said the corporation uses three or four contractors but always puts the projects out to bid to encourage competition and get a better project price for Stewart’s.