So established is Circle K Midwest that even brand-new vehicles recognize what its red-and-white logo stands for—fuel, snacks, and everything else a car might need to keep powering down the road with its driver. Circle K's story starts back in 1951, when Fred Hervey bought three Kay's Food Stores in El Paso, Texas. Under his guidance, these three little shops grew into the more than 3,000 convenience stores that crouch on our nation's street corners today.
After rolling up to a Circle K, drivers can pump their faithful roadsters full of high-octane fuel and send them skipping through a car wash to experience the cleansing touch of Blue Coral Beyond Green and Rain-X products. Then it's time to step inside the air-conditioned shop for a peek at the provisions. Rows of sodas hibernate behind glass doors, and snacks, candy, and their ATM guardians stand boldly out in the open. Some Circle Ks also offer the Take Away Fresh Café, which presents an appetizing lineup of healthy road fare including sandwiches, fruit cups, and fresh-cut vegetables. Drivers can gear up for a long drive with premium coffees or enjoy a cold Polar Pop, whose specially formulated cup keeps drinks colder thanks to the family of tiny snowmen trapped in its foam walls.
Most butcher shops cut your meat for you, but few give you the skills to cut it yourself. For the experts at John’s Butcher Shoppee, sharing their skills is just a part of serving their community, something they’ve been doing for more than 38 years. The expert butchers set up shop at local Cabela’s locations, where they lead sessions on how to process deer into steaks, sausages, and ground meat. Back at their two locations, customers load up on homemade sausage, tender pork chops, and exotic meats such as elk, bison, and ostrich. The owners of the family business are often behind the counter, and take the time to cut or karate-chop a steak or pork chop to a customer’s desired size for no extra charge. Regular customers also take note of the butcher’s weekly meat raffle, dubbed Meat-O, wherein one lucky customer wins $25 in free meat to be served or bathed in however they see fit.
Schnucks Kids Camp is more than a grocery store. While they sell cooking ingredients, their coaches also teach the culinary techniques to transform basics into piping hot dinners. During live demonstrations, novice cooks stop by to watch and learn as chefs whip up featured recipes, doling out samples to passersby. They happily answer any questions about cooking methods and required equipment, helping budding cooks who want to recreate the dishes at home. Necessary ingredients for every demo dish are available for sale beside each demo station, rather than magically stowed under the coach's chef's hat.
The company also encompasses a more structured cooking school, with classes for couples, families, and kids. A sommelier teaches adults about wine-tasting basics in one session; in another, students learn to prepare market-fresh fish. Kids' classes, meanwhile, cover topics from fondue to circus-themed snacks.