More Kwik Trip stores coming to region

More Kwik Trip stores coming to region

In June 2014, Scott Teigen told the News Tribune that by the end of 2015, Kwik Trip would have 15 stores in the Northland.

That’s going from zero to 15 stores in just 18 months.

Teigen’s projection was close.

As the end of 2015 approaches, the last of 14 Kwik Trip gas and convenience stores will open, stretching from Duluth to Moose Lake, in the chain’s dramatic entry into the Twin Ports market.

This year’s fall rollout of new stores began in mid-September with the opening of the Kwik Trip at U.S Highway 53 and 21st Avenue East in Superior. In October, stores opened on Miller Trunk Highway near Arrowhead Road in Hermantown, as well as at Central Entrance and Arlington Avenue, and at Grand Avenue and Raleigh Street in Duluth. Coming this month are stores at Hammond Avenue and North Sixth Street in Superior and near Interstate 35 in Moose Lake.

The company backed off from its plans to build a store at Sixth Avenue East and Fourth Street in Duluth’s hillside. That would have been made it 15 stores.

But Kwik Trip isn’t done yet.

By the end of 2018, there will be 20 to 25 Kwik Trips, Teigen, the company’s vice president and chief financial officer, told the News Tribune last week.

Will that be enough Northland stores for the family-owned chain with about 450 stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa?

“I don’t know if we’ll ever be done,” Teigen said.

Three or four more stores will open in the region in both 2016 and 2017. And additional stores are likely in 2018, he said.

“We’re very pleased with our acceptance in the market,” he said. “Customers seem to like us, and we sure like the customers.”

Kwik Trip is known for its fresh produce, fresh bakery and dairy products that are trucked daily from its headquarters, warehouse and kitchen in La Crosse, Wis. The milk comes directly from its own dairy farm. Stores also offer fresh sandwiches, hot foods and breakfast items made on site.

In 2016, Kwik Trip stores will open at the former Sonju automotive dealership site on Minnesota Highway 61 in Two Harbors; at Minnesota Highway 33 and Washington Avenue in Cloquet; and adjacent to the Spirit Valley Mall in West Duluth.

Teigen declined to identify any of the other prospective sites for stores.

The West Duluth site, on Central Avenue and Bristol Street, is just off Interstate 35 and behind the Minit Mart, a former Little Store.

“We’ll be competing against them and a Holiday and ourselves, of course,” he said.

Indeed, it’ll be the third Kwik Trip in West Duluth. Others are at Grand Avenue and Raleigh Street — which opened last week — and at Grand Avenue and 42nd Avenue West, which opened in 2014.

But why three stores in West Duluth?

“We think there’s enough people and enough need to support the three stores,” Teigen said. “They’re spread out. This one will cover Central. The one at Grand and Raleigh will take care of people south of the freeway.”

That leaves the Grand Avenue and 42nd Avenue West store, which serves an area more than a mile to the north of the freeway and the Spirit Valley site.

A planning review for the proposed store by the Spirit Valley Mall had been scheduled to go before the Duluth Planning Commission last month, but Kwik Trip requested it be removed from the agenda. The company discovered that Kmart’s lease at the mall gave it joint parking rights on the site, according to Teigen.

“It could be a long, tedious process,” he said of working it out..

City Planner Steven Robertson said it was a necessary hurdle to clear that could take up to six months.

“They need to resolve those property issues with the property owner before their application can come before the planning commission,” he explained.

But Teigen — who works on the property acquisitions, contracts, permits and variances needed to build stores — was confident that the negotiations would be successful and that the store would be built.

Most Kwik Trips are, on average, 5,800 square feet and cost $5 million to build and open.

Kwik Trip store openings

2014-15

Duluth

Grand and 42nd Avenue West
Michigan Street and 27th Avenue West
Central Entrance and Arlington Avenue
Grand Avenue and Raleigh Street
Hermantown

Miller Trunk Highway and Sugar Maple Drive
Miller Trunk Highway near Arrowhead Road
Superior

Tower Avenue and North 28th Street
U.S. Highway 53 and 31st Avenue East
Belknap Street and Banks Avenue
U.S. Highway 53 and 21st Avenue East
Hammond Avenue and North Sixth Street
Cloquet

Minnesota Highway 33 and North Road
Scanlon

Minnesota Highway 45 and Interstate 35
Moose Lake

Near Interstate 35
Coming in 2016*

Duluth

Central Avenue and Bristol Street
Two Harbors

Minnesota Highway 61
Cloquet

Near Minnesota Highway 33 and Holmes Drive
* Another location is possible in 2016