Phil Zaccaria - Old No 9 Depot
Old No 9 Depot is much more than a fueling stop. It’s a destination. Located in Boerne, Texas, on an old railroad terminal called Old No 9, the facility is over 10,000 square feet and houses a convenience store, restaurant (Longhorn Café, operated by a tenant), upstairs event rental space, two-story outdoor patio, and a unique playground for its youngest visitors. In keeping with its name, the store sells general merchandise, including branded Old No 9 products and other railroad-themed goods.
In addition, the store hosts an Information Center for the City, which no other area c-store has, catering to the town’s visitors and weekend shoppers. It has also formed an exclusive partnership with a very popular, local donut shop (Snowflake Donuts), which attracts a large number of visitors each morning.
During the store’s two-day Grand Opening this April, the store sold over 25,000 gallons and had inside sales of $30,000 (store and restaurant combined). More than 150 customers visit the store per day, and that number is steadily growing.
I spoke with Phil Zaccaria, the General Partner of Pioneer C-stores LP (dba Old No 9 Depot), about what makes his store so unique, as well as his unique partnership with CarterEnergy.
What is your personal/retail background? What inspired you to get into the convenience store business?
My background is through a previous equity group who owned and operated a chain of gasoline/convenience stores. I was one of the owners and acting Board members who governed the strategic direction of the company. I enjoyed the experience and success of that particular venture very much and decided to start another company.
What are some of the challenges you face with your business and what have you done to address them?
The cost and time of doing a new-to-industry project can be very challenging. I have retained a highly qualified GM to manage the day-to-day business under my direction and supervision. We also keep the store exceptionally clean, well lit, merchandised professionally with the right product mix, and we staff friendly associates who meet and exceed the demands of the consumer.
What makes you different from your competition?
The size and scope of the facility, as well as partnering with a local and successful restaurant that offers outstanding food with a fun atmosphere at very affordable prices. There is no competitor anywhere nearby doing the concept that we have developed at Old No 9 Depot.
What has been your key to success so far?
Hiring highly qualified employees at well above industry pay standards, and building an extraordinary and unique facility for our customers to enjoy.
Because of the expert advice I received while developing the facility and concept. I have been a customer of CarterEnergy since August 2013 and look forward to a long, mutually beneficial relationship. Working with Carter gives us the ability to access highly qualified and experienced industry veterans, at any time, who can provide the necessary advice which will allow our business to prosper.
What are some possible future directions for your store?
We plan to stay in front of industry competition with new technology, products and services that consumers demand and to always put the needs of our customers first. This will hopefully result in Pioneer successfully growing our business.