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Kum & Go Going to Downtown Des Moines

Urban, health-focused store will be a ‘game changer’ for retailer and historic building

DES MOINES, Iowa — Kum & Go will open an urban convenience store without gasoline in downtown Des Moines, a new concept for the regional retailer, according to a report by the Des Moines Register. The chain is based in Des Moines.

Scheduled to open in spring 2020, the 3,000-square-foot store will occupy the historic Edna M. Griffin Building, the report said. The company has had stores without gas pumps, but the downtown store will be the first in an urban setting without a dedicated parking lot, the report said. It will also be the first not built on the company’s typical 1.5-acre lot.

The store will target the estimated 10,000 customers living and working within a 2.5-minute walk of the new store, the report said.

The walk-up store will focus on “healthy and better-for-you products,” as well as traditional c-store items, Tanner Krause, president of Kum & Go, told the newspaper. It will also serve as a test store for new items, and, if the business model is successful, a prototype for additional stores.

With approximately 400 c-stores in 11 states, Kum & Go is No. 18 on CSP’s 2019 Top 202 ranking of c-stores by number of retail outlets.

“Kum & Go is trying to take a lead on healthy items in a convenience setting, and we think this concept and this audience will be a great testing ground for that change,” Krause said.

The store will offer pizza, sandwiches, salads and select high-end wine and liquor. It will also have traditional c-store packaged snacks and household items. It will not have roller grill hot dogs, a nacho cheese bar or craft-beer growlers offered in Kum & Go’s newer marketplace design.

It will focus on sustainability, featuring reusable cloth bags rather than plastic grocery bags. The chain is also rolling out compostable silverware and straws, recyclable cups and lids and post-consumer recycled food packaging in all of its stores nationwide, the report said. The change will reduce the amount of flood plastic used in the company’s food operations by more than 90%, Krause told the paper.

Kum & Go also recently joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA). Its three-year commitment with PHA will result in healthier offerings in its fresh food program, including fresh fruits and vegetables, grab-and-go items, beverages and prepared items. The chain will also offer special price promotions on such items and will include those options in its &Rewards customer loyalty program.

And Kum & Go parent company Krause Group just published its inaugural Corporate Social Responsibility Report, which spotlights its four pillars of “purpose, people, planet and philanthropy.” It covers the sustainable construction of its new Des Moines headquarters, associate safety, food rescue efforts, enhanced benefits in convenience retail and sustainable agricultural practices across its vineyards and farmland in the United States and Italy.

The new downtown store is part of a $12.4 million restoration of one of the city’s most prominent buildings, Tim Rypma of Des Moines Griffin Building LLC, one of the building’s owners, told the Register. The first and second floors are for retail space, while 35 apartments will occupy floors three through six. The building has been vacant since a fire in 2014, the report said.

Rypma called Kum & Go’s new concept “a game changer” for the building’s future tenants, surrounding neighbors and downtown’s workforce.

Des Moines Griffin Building and Kum & Go plan to pay homage to the building’s namesake, Edna Mae Griffin. Called the Rosa Parks of Iowa, Griffin was a civil rights pioneer who led sit-ins and protests of Katz Drug Store after being refused service there on July 9, 1948, because she was African-American.

“The story of Edna Griffin is one that I hope more central Iowans know and can learn from. And it ties into the type of company we’re trying to develop or become from a diversity and inclusion perspective,” Krause said. “I think her story is really inspiring and courageous.”

Rypma is working with a local artist who will paint a mural honoring her legacy. 

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