It turns out Kwik Trip doesn’t have plans to move

Published 12:18 pm Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The rumor mill has been chugging along the past few weeks after the old HiMEC Mechanical building on a site owned by Kwik Trip was demolished.

It turns out, however, that the convenience store chain doesn’t plan to relocate either of its two Austin locations (1401 Fourth St. NW or 1201 W Oakland Ave.) or build a third shop there, according to Wade Dumond, Kwik Trip real estate development manager. Dumond said they were just getting rid of an old building on its site — 1901 Fourth St. NW — which is technically owned by Convenience Store Investments. The company also owns land directly east of Schieck Dental, 607 18th Ave. NW, but has no immediate plans for that plot, either.

According to Mower County records, the company purchased the parcel at 1901 Fourth St. NW in January 2008 for $440,000, and then repackaged it with the parcel next to Schieck for $925,000 in June 2011.

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So while it looks like Kwik Trip won’t break ground in the next few months, don’t rule out a change down the road.

A mall on the mend?

With the announcement of a new candy shop, Napoli Chocolates, moving to Oak Park Mall (See “Oh, sweet: Chocolate store to open,” Page 1), it looks like the Austin shopping center may be poised for a rebound, thanks in no small part to Bob and Lisa Nelson, the chocolate shop’s owners.

When Napoli Chocolates opens this spring, the Nelsons will have four businesses in the mall, and all of them have opened since September 2011.

According to Shan Kehret, Oak Park Mall’s marketing director, they now have 20 businesses — two more than they had at the beginning of 2010 — and they have two more interested. Additions since Kehret started at the mall in October 2009 are Acclaim Studio of Dance, Two Bears Trading Post, Spirit Bear Academy, Weight Watchers, Dave Thompson auctions, Ole Barn BBQ, the Kitchen Warehouse, the Machine Shed and now Napoli Chocolates. A net gain of two businesses in two years may not seem like a lot — and there are still 14 empty storefronts — but it is an increase during a period many small malls are steadily losing businesses.

In addition, while it was announced last week that the Sears in Rochester will likely close, the one in Oak Park Mall is in the process of moving to a much larger location, from inside the mall to an exterior storefront; the former home of Ruskell Hardware.

“Things are going to be happening,” Kehret said. “The mall is the place to start a small business.”

Kehret said rent is very affordable, traffic is starting to pick up, and they may be “headed for the light at the end of the tunnel.”

— Herald editor Adam Harringa’s column on business news appears every Wednesday.