St. Ann, Mo., Group Hopes to Stop QuikTrip Closure

Customers hope to pass "test," but retailer says store "definitely" closing in favor of newer sites

Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

ST. ANN, Mo. -- While residents of St. Ann, Mo., near St. Louis, have launched a Facebook campaign to save a local QuikTrip convenience store slated for closure, the retailer says that the location will, in fact, close to make way for other area expansion.

"I believe ... that it's a test up front, but I believe once it's shuttered, they are not going to open it," Maurice Gayden, creator of the "Save the St. Ann Quik Trip" Facebook page and campaign, told KMOV-TV.

Area businesses say they count on the store to draw business to the area after losing the Northwest Plaza strip mall and a Walmart. "We had a lot of traffic coming in from Walmart and the mall and now we are losing Quik Trip. They can all see us from there," Gayden told the news outlet. "Quik Trip, if you can hear me, we're here ... we support you... we want you to support us."

On the Facebook page, he said that the campaign is "designed to hopefully stop the planned 'test' closure of the St. Ann QuikTrip."

The store is scheduled to be closed on Sept. 6, 2013. The group affiliated with the social media effort is holding "buy-in" events Sept. 3 and Sept. 4 in an effort to prevent the store's closing.

"The facts are that the location will be closed as a test to see how much traffic will detour to the Overland location, the St. John location or the Bridgeton location," the page said. "If those stores that are already busy see an increase in traffic due to the closure, the St. Ann location will close permanently. If they don't see traffic increase due to the closure, they say they will invest in 'upgrading' or building a new location in St. Ann."

The Tulsa, Okla.-based chain's official reaction: "Obviously, we are quite sincerely flattered that there is a group of customers that would like to keep that particular store open," spokesperson Mike Thornbrugh told CSP Daily News. But "we have brand-new [Gen3] stores just a few miles away in both directions, and it's just not feasible to operate that existing store any longer. The newer ones have more options."

He said that "normally you hear the opposite--'we don't want a convenience store'; we've got a group of people that truly like us and prefer that we don't shut that store down."

He also said that "test" is the group's word. The store "is definitely closing."

On the Facebook page, Gayden added, "Now the reason that I am taking on this decision is what happens on the back side if they do close the St. Ann location permanently. ... The real-estate clauses for selling the vacant building stipulate that whatever goes into that location cannot sell cigarettes, beer, liquor, snacks, soda, gas, etc., and cannot be a fast food restaurant either. Anything that goes into the location cannot compete with QT. There are so many restrictions on what can go into the space that it virtually guarantees that the spot will sit vacant for an extended period of time (potentially years).

"That is the last thing St. Ann needs is a space that is hard to fill and/or lease. Especially next to a park, with baseball/softball/soccer fields where children walk and play.

"Cig Liq will be the only choice that is within walking distance as well. Cig Liq does not allow minors on the premises so there will be no alternative. So, in a nutshell, the reason I am fighting so hard for this is that the space will be an eyesore for quite so time to come. So when this store does close, do not under any circumstances go to any other qt location. It will kill St. Ann's chances for good! If their 'test' fails, they will invest in our community again. ... At least that is what they are saying right now."

On the group's events page, it said, "The coordinator is asking that we wear a red shirt, but wear it backwards to show that we don't approve of the decision they have made. While a large group or 'mob' would be great to see, it is find to just come when you are able to. What we will do is come in peacefully, buy our QT products, take pictures of us holding our purchases and upload the pictures to the St. Ann QT page."

Tulsa, Okla.-based QuikTrip has 660 stores in 11 states.