midwest convenience store comes to florida: Thorntons Inc., an independent gasoline/convenience-chain retailer, will open its first Florida location in Clearwater on the site of the former Krispy Kreme doughnut shop at 1698 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd.
The company recently announced its expansion into the Florida regional metro market. The Clearwater store is slated to open in late November.
The plan for the region is to add 15 to 20 stores in the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater area during the next three years.
"Our goal is to have six stores open by the end of this year or early next year," said John Zikias, senior vice president of supply chain and category management with Thorntons.
Each store will be open 24 hours a day. The company plans to hire several hundred people in the coming months.
Initially, three grades of gasoline as well as diesel fuel will be available at Thorntons. E85, an environmentally friendly alternative fuel for FlexFuel vehicles, will not be immediately available until the logistics of its delivery are worked out.
In the store, visitors will be able to pick up a wide variety of products including groceries and beverages, fresh food, baked goods, money orders, gift cards and lottery tickets.
Founded by James H. Thornton in 1971, the company's first station opened in Clarksville, Ind., and featured a kiosk building and a full-service attendant.
In the 1980s, Thorntons transitioned from kiosk locations to convenience stores in more 100 locations throughout Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
In 1997, Thorntons created a new prototype store that featured a wide variety of fast-food products, groceries and beverages within a well-lit, customer-friendly environment.
Since August 2001, James Thornton's son, Matthew A. Thornton, has served as president and CEO of Thorntons, Kentucky's largest privately held corporation with interests in retail gasoline and convenience stores, petroleum terminals and bulk plants, and transportation and commissary operations.
A 1993 graduate of the University of Alabama with a bachelor of science degree in management, Matthew Thornton has focused the organization on maintaining financial flexibility through conservative balance sheet management. As a result, the company consistently builds six to 10 new stores annually.
This is the company's first foray into a new metro/state region since 2007. With this expansion, the Thorntons brand will now be available in six states.
Send business news to Nova Beall at Tampa Bay Times, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756; fax (727) 445-4119; or email [email protected]