QuikTrip leaves Springfield, Mo.

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This is old news, but new to me.

We're just back from a brief fall break jaunt to Table Rock Lake, a short trip that included brief stops in Siloam Springs and Eureka Springs on the way there, paddleboating, playing at tennis (and violin) in a giant bubble, a providential encounter with a classic car club (mostly Packards and Cadillacs from the '20s), dinner in an old-English-style restaurant on an old-English-style Main Street in Hollister, Missouri, a timeshare presentation, a visit to a Civil War battlefield, a drive down a 9-foot-wide highway, a moment with some buffalo, and over-indulgence at a classic Route 66 cafe with a neon "EAT" sign out front. More about all that in due time.

A surprise from the trip was the discovery that QuikTrip is no longer in the Springfield, Missouri, market. One QT that had been a frequent stop for us on trips to and from the Branson area was at US 65 and MO 14 south of Springfield. Like the QT near the eastern terminus of the Turner Turnpike, this one shared a building with a Wendy's. Today I was surprised to see that it had become a Casey's General Store. The Casey's convenience store chain is based in Ankeny, Iowa, with over 22,000 employees and 1600 corporate-owned stores mainly in Iowa and adjoining states.

It surprised me that a company as dynamic as QuikTrip would pull out of a market. According to news reports, QT announced in March 2011 that it was selling its five Springfield area stores to Casey's. QT had been in the market since 1994. QT is still in the Phoenix, Tucson, Tulsa, Dallas-Fort Worth, Kansas City, St. Louis, Wichita, Des Moines, Omaha, and Atlanta metro areas. There's only one outlier on the map: A store in Columbia, Mo. According to the QT website, the company has "580+ stores in 9 major metropolitan areas" with over 10,000 employees. (Perhaps they count Phoenix and Tucson as a single metro area.)

A October 19, 2010, CSPnet.com story mentioned that the stores would be sold:

QuikTrip Corp. is looking to sell its five Springfield, Mo., convenience stores, company spokesperson Mike Thornbrugh told The Springfield News-Leader. He said QuikTrip is focusing its efforts on very large metropolitan markets, and Springfield no longer fits the company's plans.

Elaborating on the theme in an April 21, 2011, story in the Evangel College student newspaper, The Lance:

According to Michael Thornbrugh, manager of public and government affairs, QT will be "expanding into larger metropolitan areas where each market can hold 80 to 120 locations. The new QT locations are about 5,700 square feet while all the locations in Springfield are 4,200 square feet."

The current economy did not play a role in QT closing some of their stores; Thornbrugh said that QT is growing during the tough economic times. Springfield was a good and profitable market for QT.

Management and staff at the store located next to Evangel have expressed sorrow and disappointment about the QT closing its doors. Many from the Evangel community have been patrons of QT, which opened its doors on March 31, 1995. Thornbrough had this to say to the Evangel community: "Thank you for your loyalty. We will miss the opportunity to be your choice convenience store."

With QT's increasing emphasis on ready-to-eat food, it would make sense to have a large and tight cluster of locations that can be serviced by a regional kitchen facility.

In contrast with QT's major metro focus, Casey's began with locations in small towns of 5,000 or less.

According to Convenience Store News's list of the top 100 chains, QuikTrip is the 19th largest convenience store chain in America, Casey's is 12th.

AND ANOTHER THING: Did anyone else think that new talk radio billboard west of Sheridan on the BA was a QuikTrip ad at first? Put three guys in QuikTrip-red polo shirts on a billboard, and it's likely to trigger an unintended association.

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Laramie Hirsch said:

I stopped going to Quick Trip shortly after I learned that it put ethanol in the gasoline, while Sinclair, Shell, and independent stores don't.

A nice clean store (with local beggars around it) filled with neatly organized food is not enough to earn my business, if it means I gotta slowly kill my car.

Michael, do you have any clout with QuikTrip? Let them know OKC really, really, really wants them to enter our market. We'll even let them brand themselves Tulsa's Famous QuikTrip on their signs, etc. When it comes to QuikTrip, there is no end to our Tulsa envy.

route66news said:

Steve, I read Chet Cadieux's book about QuikTrip, and he said the company has a gentleman's agreement with 7-Eleven in OKC to stay out of its market.

Laramie Hirsch said:

I guess I can understand why OKC might want Quick Trip in its city. The stores appear clean.

But their gas is Ethanol-based, and they manage to attract folks who like to just hang around outside the building and beg for money. Happens all the time at night around the 51st and Yale store.

Another Update: Over at the store by 412 and Sheridan, it seems some disgruntled youth(?) decided to kick in and bash unrecognizable a QT's BlockBuster video rental kiosk. Take that, Blockbuster! (Incidentally, in this area there's also a small encampment of folk underneath a tree, just beside the highway.)

Several of my friends wonder why there's never any police enforcement around the stores in this town.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 21, 2011 11:49 PM.

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