Highlights and photos from the 2023 Convenience U CARWACS Show
The Convenience U CARWACS Show made a big return March 7 and 8: After a three-year hiatus, the event returned to its original March time slot. This years’ show welcomed more than 50 new exhibitors, who joined industry staples in showcasing innovative new products and equipment.
This year, Canada’s event for convenience, gas and car wash was at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont. It offered unique education, a buzzing trade show and the chance to rub shoulders with the people important to the industry. Exhibitors commented on the quality of networking they did this year and were impressed with the leads they were able to make. The crowd itself was enthusiastic, with lineups of people eager to learn about and sample the latest offerings in beverages, snacks, ready-to-serve food, vapes, lottery and more. OLG’s Bigger Spin wheel was a bigger hit with crowds looking for a chance to win a spin at the lottery counter.
Class is in session
This years’ show featured back-to-back mornings packed with original education sessions. The two-morning C-store Conference was sold out and the new format touched on the issues that readers and attendees said were most important to them: shopper insights, combating illicit tobacco, marketing and business strategies, technology, the future of vaping, foodservice, security, new opportunities to drive revenue and important discussions about the big issues impacting the channel.
Sandra Parente, senior vice-president, grocery and convenience for EnsembleIQ opened the show and thanked industry leaders and supporters.
Michelle Warren, editor and associate publisher of Convenience Store News Canada, welcomed eager listeners to the conference with a reminder of why c-store operators attend the show yearly: “It’s a chance for all of us to discover, to grow and to connect.”
John Richard Penney, manager of the Anti Illicit Trade Operations at JTI led the sponsored tutorial; "Supporting the convenience store industry: How JTI is working to support retailers in our markets". Penney identified 83 contraband tobacco brands in Canada.
“Canada is a source country for contraband tobacco,” said Penney, who explained that JTI collects data for law enforcement and the government on behalf of retailers.
Car wash education
Day 1 of the CARWACS show featured top education for Canada's car wash industry. The Canadian Car Wash Association kicked off the first day with breakfast and networking, followed by "Strategies for maximizing your site: Choosing the ideal express tunnel location". Patrick Conium, analytics team leader at NCS and Alison Tilley, strategic operation support manager for NCS led the discussion.
The "Ask me anything panel" featured industry leaders Mike Black from Valet Car Wash, Duro Bicanic from Bicorp Design Group Ltd., Paul Harkins from Sonny's Enterprises Inc., and was moderated by Michael Howe from Washlinks. The panel opened the mic to an engaged audience curious about gaining and maintaining car wash customers, permits for operators looking to open a car wash and water and energy consumption in car washes.
"You need both aesthetics and proper working machines to grab and maintain customers," said Bicanic.
When choosing a good destination for your car wash, Harkins suggests operators "choose a loctaion that's close to a destination point: malls, close to shopping or offices," and to "look at traffic and consider whether people are driving 25 or 60 kilometres an hour, because it makes a difference."