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C-store chain offers unique convenience

Convenience stores are all about acquiring essentials and treats quickly and efficiently. But Korea’s largest chain CU is expanding the definition.

Add to the food and grocery menu private lockers and meeting rooms.

The lockers, as the above image from the Korea Times website shows, are designed to be a convenient place for travellers and nightclubbers to secure their belongings while they indulge their pastimes.

BFG Retail, franchisor of CU (formerly trading under the Family Mart banner) launched its private locker service last month at Itaewon, a popular tourist attraction and nightlife area.

“We introduced the service considering the inconvenience for foreign tourists coming to Itaewon due to a lack of place to put their bags safely. As they can lock their bags 24 hours a day, not only tourists but also young club-goers have responded positively to the service,” a BFG spokesman told local news media.

A private locker can be rented in three hour time blocks for between 2000 and 3000 won (US$1.80-$2.80). Customers can pay by cash, transport transit cards or mobile phone app.

The mere existence of the lockers has reportedly increased store traffic by 15 per cent – and most customers using the lockers shop the store as well.

Now BFG plans to expand the new convenient locker service to stores in other popular tourist precincts.

Meanwhile, CU is also offering meeting rooms, complete with tables, chairs, whiteboards and high definition TV screens for groups wanting a convenient spot for a meeting. It’s particularly targeted at students, with trial stores located close to universities.

Laptops can be rented for 1000 won per hour, and copying, scanning and printing services are available. CU figures students using the rooms will purchase snacks and drinks from the shop to consumer there. Already popular, the rooms need to be reserved in advance.

Last April, another CU store – in Marronnier Park store in Daehangno, Seoul – was fitted with a small stage in the storefront where amateur musicians could perform. CU even supplied sound and lighting equipment.

CU stores are open 24-seven. The company has more than 8000 shops across South Korea offering traditional grocery lines along with ATM machines, event ticket payment and collection, utility bill payments and phone recharging services.


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