A 'Superior' Market for Kwik Trip

Expanding in Twin Ports area in Minnesota, with up to 16 stores slated through 2015

Kwik Trip

DULUTH, Minn. -- Kwik Trip Inc. is opening more convenience stores in the Twin Ports market of Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis., this year than anywhere else in the Midwest, according to a report by The Duluth News Tribune.

Of the chain's 34 new gas stations and c-stores slated to open this year, eight will be in the greater Twin Ports area: three in Superior, two in Duluth, two in Hermantown and one in Scanlon, Minn., the report said.

Six to eight more stores--with three more in Duluth, another one in Superior, one in Cloquet, Minn., and the others to be determined--will follow in 2015, bringing the total to 14 to 16 stores in two years, Scott Teigen, Kwik Trip's CFO told the newspaper.

Kwik Trip plans to start building the stores in the Twin Ports area this spring, and they will start opening in September. The stores typically are about 4,000 square feet.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, the retailer announced grand openings in Oakdale, Minn., Wausau, Wis., and Maquoketa, Iowa, this week. The chain has more than 450 stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

Existing c-stores in the Twin Ports region are bracing for the coming Kwik Trip invasion, said the report.

"We've been expecting it for a number of years," Mike McKinney, co-owner of Best Oil Co. in Cloquet, which operates 19 Little Stores in the region, told the paper. "They are a very large, well-operated company that is expanding. … There's no surprise with this."

It's why his company rebuilt its Spirit Mountain store in Proctor, which has become the prototype for its future stores, he said. And it is why it has remodeled several other locations in the past few years.

With its fresh produce, baked goods and dairy products trucked daily to stores from its headquarters in La Crosse, Wis., Kwik Trip stands to be formidable competition, said the News Tribune. The family-owned company takes a sustainable approach to business by recycling, building stores that are Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)-certified and by including electric car-charging stations at its new stores.

"An excellent company like Kwik Trip coming to this market raises the bar for the convenience industry and raises the expectations of consumers," McKinney said. "So it makes us work harder to have better convenience stores."

Teigen insists Kwik Trip isn't out to put anyone out of business. "On the food end, we're strong with our milk, bread, bananas and sandwiches," he said. "We really look at the big grocery stores as our competitors."

Click here to view the full News Tribune report.