“Experience-based” retailer Wally’s will locate its fourth giant travel center in the Kansas City metropolitan area, in Independence, Missouri, the company has revealed. The company says it plans to open additional locations in the market.
Wally’s—which appears to be positioning itself to compete with large-facility rival Buc-ee’s—offers destination stores with multiple food stations, clean and accessible restrooms and curated retail products and dubs itself the “Home of the Great American Roadtrip.”
“Wally’s has closed on our first location in Independence, and is in discussion on other locations in the Kansas City Metro," said Michael Rubenstein, CEO.
Rubenstein said the company has been focused on its Midwest expansion plans, and Kansas City in particular, for a couple of years. With Wally’s operations and development team located in St. Louis, Kansas City is a logical move, he said.
“Kansas City is a perfect fit for the Wally’s experience,” said Rubenstein.
The Independence site, which gives Wally’s access to a strong traffic count and highway visibility, both key criteria for Wally’s business model. Rubenstein adds, “We still have work to do with the City of Independence to clean up some of the challenges that exist at this spot, but we have been extremely appreciative of the City’s continued support and fully expect that we will be able to finalize all of the developmental items. If all goes according to plan we would be shovels in the ground in summer of 2024.”
The Independence travel center will be the chain’s largest, housed on more than 50,000-square-foot of travel center, 80 fueling positions and an estimated 20 electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations. The food stations include the Wally’s sandwich house, Wally’s café and popcorn station. Wally’s also houses a canteen with a beef jerky bar and other hot food items, as well as a bakery and coffee bar.
Wally’s opened its first travel center, a 30,000-square-foot store, in Pontiac, Illinois, off of Interstate 55, south of Chicago, in 2020. It opened a 36,000-square-foot location in its home town of Fenton, Missouri, off of Interstate 44, near St. Louis, in 2022.
Wally’s previously announced its third store location in Whitestown, Indiana, with that groundbreaking scheduled for after Labor Day, to open in late 2024.
Lake Jackson, Texas-based Buc-ee’s operates more than 40 large, high-profile “destination” travel centers around the country, with multiple new sites planned through 2026.
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