I officially became a soccer mom this fall when my nine-year-old daughter earned a spot on the local travel soccer team. I was initially thrilled by her ability to make it onto such a competitive team—and then I realized that the “travel” in travel soccer team meant some long drives every weekend. Her first game took us to Summit Point, West Virginia, nearly a two-hour drive from Washington DC. we were warned ahead of time about the lack of restrooms at the field and were encouraged to stop along the way for a bathroom break. So we did just that somewhere along Route 340, about 20 minutes from our destination.
We found a convenience store/gas station referenced on a highway exit sign, pulled off the main road, found the station, snake past a couple of cars at the gas pumps, and parked. We should have kept on driving.
The store looked typical enough: promotional signs for fresh, hot pizza dotted the windows, candy and beverages greeted us as we walked in and the clerk pointed out the bathroom at the back of the store. But once we got in the bathroom, it all went to hell in a handbasket, as they say. The bathroom smelled. The only toilet paper available was what littered the floor. The toilet did not flush. The soap dispenser was empty. My daughter and I high-tailed it out of there, never to be seen again. When I told her we could try another convenience store down the road, she said to me, “Let's wait until we can use the porta-potties at the field.” Once we got to the soccer field, a few of her teammates and their parents were sharing similar tales of C-store bathroom disgust from their travels. So ours was not an isolated incident. A clean bathroom is really such a simple thing. Yet its inverse—a dirty bathroom—wreaks intense havoc on the public perception of our entire industry. (Do you think my fellow soccer moms would have thought it was cool that I work for the convenience industry?) So why do so many retailers pass on a exerting the effort required to have a clean bathroom? I’m hoping you’re not one of the guilty ones. If you are, clean up your act. Erin O. Pressley Editor-In-Chief/Publisher SOURCE: NACS Magazine (October 2014)