NEW STORE BRAND — The Maple Leaf Market planned for Route 5 and Sherrill Road in Sherrill will have an exterior design that incorporates a “rustic-contemporary Adirondack-style,” according to Thursday’s announcement by the Oneida Indian Nation. The Oneidas currently operate 12 SavOn convenience stores. The new shop will feature a menu of fresh sandwiches, soups, salads and pastas. Snacks will include fresh fruits and vegetables. (Illustration submitted)

Oneida Nation to open five new stores

Published May 19, 2017 at 4:10pm

SHERRILL — The Oneida Indian Nation has picked the city for the first location for its new convenience store brand.

The Maple Leaf Market brand will feature a beefed-up menu of fresh, made-to-order food for busy customers, capitalizing on a trend in recent years at minimarts and grocery stores. The new store represents the next generation of convenience stores with an emphasis on healthier grab-and-go meal and snack choices made with fresh ingredients and gourmet coffee, according to the tribe’s announcement on Thursday.

Construction of the initial Maple Leaf store at Route 5 and Sherrill Road will start later this month. A fall opening is anticipated.

The nation has plans to open five Maple Leaf stores within three years. Only the Sherrill location has been announced, but the other ones will be in the region, said Kelly Abdo, the nation’s public relations manager, in an email. The Oneidas already operate 12 SavOn convenience stores in Oneida and Madison counties, including one near the just-announced Maple Leaf store in Sherrill. Some SavOn stores may be converted over to the Maple Leaf Market brand, the official said.

Like the SavOn stores, the Maple Leaf brand locations will sell gasoline and beer.

Although some SavOn stores have slot machines, they are not planned for Maple Leaf stores, says Abdo.

“We are constantly evolving our businesses as the needs and lifestyles of our guests change,” said Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation representative and Nation Enterprises CEO. “Combining a convenient one-stop-shop experience with fresh made-to-order food, Maple Leaf Market will fulfill the needs for our always-on-the-go guests moving forward.” 

While convenience stores have offered prepared foods for years — think of spinning hot dogs by the counter and pizza slices under a heat lamp — the trend to turn themselves into destinations for both hot and cold foods prepared onsite has accelerated. Prepared foods and drinks like pizzas, burgers and coffee accounted for 22 percent of convenience store sales last year, an industry report said last month, a figure that has risen from 13 percent in 2010.

But the push into hot and prepared foods in recent years is driven by another factor. For convenience stores in general, cigarettes remain a strong seller. However, cigarette sales are on the decline. So convenience stores look to keep trying to sell more food as smoking rates fall.

The Maple Leaf Market exterior will be designed in “a rustic-contemporary Adirondack-style,” said the news release.