Category Archives: Retail

Al’s Old & New Book Store to be first tenant at Block One retail center

booksWICHITA — The new retail center attached to the parking garage at Block One has its first tenant, and it may be an unexpected one.

Anita Siemer is going to move her Al’s Old & New Book Store from Delano, where it’s been for almost six decades, to the new downtown development.

Slawson Cos. is handling leasing at the 8,400-square-foot center. Slawson broker Jerry Jones says if he could create a list of what he wants at the center, he’d “put a book store right at the top of it.”

“We just feel really good about it,” he says.

So does Siemer, even though she never wanted to move.

The New Covenant United Methodist Church purchased Siemer’s space along with another space next door – at 1710 and 1712 W. Douglas – in order to expand. In April, Siemer expressed concerns about having to move due to cost.

“I can find cheap, crummy spaces in … parts of town that would be scary for after dark, and I can find expensive, nice places here in Delano and downtown, but you know, having to pay so much – like three times as much as I currently pay – I don’t think that’s really looking like it works for me right now,” she said at the time.

Now, she says Slawson Cos. has “gotten creative to make it so I could come into the space really in better shape than anything I found in Delano.”

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Retail center coming to 21st and Amidon

WICHITA — The intersection of 21st and Amidon continues to get a makeover.

The gas station at the southeast corner is being demolished to make room for a small retail development.

“We’re just going to do a little mini shopping center,” says Larry Cook of Cook Construction.

“We’ve got two really great tenants that are going to go in there,” he says.

Cook says he can’t say who the tenants are just yet.

“We’re real, real close,” he says of the deals.

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Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates adds to ESPY swag bags

The Cocoa Dolce boxes that will go in ESPY gift bags have a special high-five wrap just for the sports awards.

The Cocoa Dolce boxes that will go in ESPY gift bags have a special high-five wrap just for the sports awards.

WICHITA – Beth Tully has had opportunities to include items from her Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates in swag bags, such as for the Grammys and Emmys, but she would have had to pay for the privilege.

Tully, who owns the shop in Bradley Fair and the new one in the Prairiefire development in Overland Park, didn’t think it would be wise to spend thousands on the hopes that a few famous people might get to know and like her chocolates.

“I mean, it’s crazy,” she says of what it costs.

Now, though, Tully has been invited to include her products in some giveaways for ESPN’s ESPY awards.

“It was really serendipitous,” Tully says of an Internet search leading to her website.

She’s now donated gifts of chocolates and gift cards for 150 bags that will be given in conjunction with the awards. Other companies that have included gifts in the bags include Fitbit, TiVo and Foxwoods.

“This is the first time that we’ve done anything at that level,” Tully says of the number of bags.

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Longtime roaster returns to Spice Merchant

roasterWICHITA — The more than 40-year-old coffee roaster that used to be the Spice Merchant’s mainstay is back in the store, which is on East Douglas about four blocks east of Washington.

Three years ago, owner Bob Boewe purchased a new, more environmentally friendly roaster from the U.S. Roaster Corp. in Oklahoma City. The company then tried to sell his old roaster.

“They could never really get a buyer,” Boewe says.

So he had the company refurbish and modernize it so he could use it as a backup at the store.

Boewe says his new roaster had an issue once, and he had to go a week and a half without it.

“We prevailed on a friend of ours in Oklahoma City who’s a roaster,” he says.

Boewe says he’d prefer to have his own backup because the new roaster has so many intricate parts.

“If one little part of that dies, you’re just dead in the water,” he says. “It could happen to anybody. It’s just a fact of life.”

The only way Boewe says a store such as his should be without a backup is if “the guy who built it lives next door to you.”

He says the refurbished roaster is at the store and waiting to be hooked up.

“We now have two beautiful red roasters on the floor.”

Ashley Furniture HomeStore-Wichita to open in former Sportsman’s Warehouse

UPDATED — More than four years after Sportsman’s Warehouse closed its east Wichita store, a new business is opening there.

Ashley Furniture HomeStore-Wichita will open at the site in One Kellogg Place, which is just east of Kellogg and Greenwich, this fall.

“It took me two years to get this building bought,” says Jay Storey, president of Wichita Furniture.

In addition to being an Ashley Furniture licensee, Wichita Furniture is the parent company of Furniture on Consignment.

Storey says the 55,000-square-foot building at One Kellogg Place had gone through a couple of different holding companies that purchased it with a bundle of other buildings.

“Their business was to lease properties, and we wanted to own property,” Storey says. “We’re here to stay.”

Storey opened his first Ashley Furniture store near 21st and Maize Road in 2002.

“There was a need out there that we filled,” he says.

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Fred Ortiz sells six College Hill Cleaners

UPDATED — Fred Ortiz has sold all of his College Hill Cleaners stores.

“After 39 years, I thought it was just enough dry cleaning for me.”

He started in the business working for someone else in 1977 and then opened his own College Hill Cleaners in 1988.

His first store was at 4618 E. Central. At the chain’s peak, Ortiz had nine stores, seven of which were on the east side along with ones in Derby and Andover.

Even as he expanded beyond College Hill, Ortiz decided to keep that name.

“I had such a good reputation there at the central location,” he says.

Bradley Fair was an early location.

“I was the second tenant at Bradley Fair,” Ortiz says.

In the last several years, he downsized to six stores.

“The dry cleaning industry just changed tremendously,” Ortiz says.

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QuikTrip planning two more Gen 3 stores

WICHITA — Bel Aire is two blocks shy of getting its first gas station.

QuikTrip has filed a permit for a new store at 35th and Oliver. Bel Aire begins on the northeast corner of 37th and Oliver.

“We’d like to get a QuikTrip or something like that,” says City Manager Ty Lasher. “We’d take anything.”

He says it’s not like there aren’t convenience stores in the area, though.

“They’re all very close.”

Mike Thornbrugh, spokesman for Tulsa-based QuikTrip, says the company has filed permits for the Oliver store and one near K-96 and North Ridge Road.

“We would like to go there, yes,” he says. “There’s still a ways to go where I’d have dates.”

When they do open, the stores will be Generation 3 stores, which is the chain’s latest prototype with kitchens and full-service counters for food and drinks.

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Unruh Automotive Northeast expands from five bays to 13

WICHITA — Chris Myers has added almost 4,000 square feet to his Unruh Automotive Northeast at 2100 N. Beaumont, which is a block west of 21st and Woodlawn behind Bionic Burger.

He says business is “growing pretty rapidly to the point where we would have a delay in our service of a day or two just trying to get … to the vehicles.”

With the five bays he used to have, Myers says, “You can only work on so much in a given day.”

Now, he has 13 bays, each of which is two vehicles deep.

“So we can get a lot more vehicles in (and) take care of our customers quicker,” Myers says.

He says he’s invested in top-of-the-line alignment equipment for two alignment bays, and he’s added another large truck bay to service shuttle vans and make it easier for his employees to get to them without having to lie on the ground.

Myers also owns Auto M.D. in Derby.

There are two other Unruh Automotive stores in the Wichita area owned by someone else.

Myers is considering adding another east-side store.

“I have some things that are in the works,” he says. “It’s preliminary at this point.”

With his new bays at the northeast store, Myers says he doesn’t necessarily expect to double his business but plans “to get pretty close.”

A Little Bit of Everything resale shop to open on west side

WICHITA — LaDonna West wants to make one thing clear about what she and her cousin, Sheri Sharp, will carry when they open their new west-side resale shop next month:

“No clothing.”

West says there are already plenty of shops for that.

A Little Bit of Everything will carry a little bit of everything else, though.

“Everything that you would buy at an estate sale pretty much,” West says.

The shop is opening June 3 at 9428 W. Central, which is between Tyler and Maize Road.

West says Sharp has already been in the business online.

“She’s been buying and selling on eBay for, like, 14 years,” West says. “She’s just accumulated so much stuff.”

The idea, West says, is “to take her hobby and turn it into revenue.”

Sharp has been living in Topeka but is moving to Wichita. In addition to the 1,400-square-foot store, West and Sharp will have an eBay store.

They’ll sell furniture, home decor, art, garden decor, linens, bedding, glass and games.

“Everybody kept asking us, ‘What are you going to sell?’” West says.

“It’s a little bit of everything, so that’s the name of the store.”

Former Boeing worker opening Tech Solutions on North Rock Road

WICHITA — Nayan Patel is another businessman who decided to turn his hobby into his full-time work.

“I have been enjoying playing with different Audio Video equipment for many years,” he said via e-mail.

Patel worked for Boeing for a dozen years but now is opening Tech Solutions at 350 N. Rock Road. He said his goal is to help customers transfer older files of all sorts into digital ones. He said that could be a shoebox full of photographs or negatives or it could be albums, 8-track tapes or VHS tapes, among other things. Patel said he also has high-speed scanners and duplication machines.

There are other services Patel will provide as well. For instance, he’ll offer shredding services and pick-up and delivery for computer, cell phone and TV repairs at the GeekShop Repairs.

By July, Patel will have a 16-person conference room set up for international video conferencing and other meetings.

Patel said these are merely some of his initial plans.

“Future plans are 3-D printing, home video security installation, LCD/LED TV installation, etc.”