New Sam’s Club should open next summer

WICHITA — When it comes to big box news, it’s hard to beat the excitement about the new Costco coming to Kellogg and Webb Road. There’s still plenty of interest, though, in the new Sam’s Club that will open not far from the northern part of NewMarket Square.

According to a spokesman for the Arkansas-based retailer, the new Sam’s will open in 136,000 square feet at the northeast corner of 29th and Maize Road next summer.

This will make the ninth Sam’s in Kansas. The new store will hire about 175 people. Sam’s and sister company Walmart have almost 20,000 employees in the state.

The new Sam’s will have a fuel center and a pharmacy.

Look for a specific opening date closer to next summer.

Beechcraft CEO confirms Costco is taking part of the company’s property

UPDATED — As Have You Heard? first reported last summer, Costco is coming to what is currently Beechcraft property at the northeast corner of Kellogg and Webb Road.

During an interview with Aviation Week, Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture this week confirmed for the first time that the chain is taking part of the company’s property for a future store.

The article explained that “Beechcraft has also consolidated its pistons and turboprops production into a single facility in Wichita, closing the pistons plant. That facility, Boisture says, is ‘on its way to becoming a Costco.’ He said the sale of Plant 3 and property at the south end of the Beechcraft campus will reduce its so-called ‘square mile’ on Wichita’s east side by about 20%.”

An updated version of the Aviation Week story says “big box store” instead of Costco.

Previously, Beechcraft spokeswoman Nicole Alexander said the company had no information or comments to offer about a possible sale to Costco.

In May, Have You Heard? had this update:

Costco has about 17 1/2 acres under contract. The deal isn’t likely to close until later this year. That’s substantially further out than initial time lines suggested. It looks like part of the holdup was the Hawker Beechcraft bankruptcy filing. There were some questions related to environmental issues at the plant as well.

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Costco deal for more than 17 acres at Beechcraft property is getting closer

UPDATED — Anyone who’s ever done a real estate deal knows it almost always takes longer than expected, and it’s no different with Costco’s potential purchase of Beechcraft property.

It was about this time last year that Have You Heard? first reported that the Issaquah, Wash.-based chain, a competitor to Sam’s Club, was looking to come to Wichita.

In August, sources said Costco was interested in the northeast corner of Kellogg and Webb Road, which was Hawker Beechcraft property.

When the aircraft company changed its name to simply Beechcraft earlier this year and changed all its signs, spokeswoman Nicole Alexander said it didn’t put one back up on the corner since the property is for sale.

No one with Beechcraft or Costco is talking yet, but here’s the latest on the potential deal:

Costco has about 17 1/2 acres under contract. The deal isn’t likely to close until later this year. That’s substantially further out than initial time lines suggested. It looks like part of the holdup was the Hawker bankruptcy filing. There were some questions related to environmental issues at the plant as well.

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Costco has a top pick for Wichita property

WICHITA — Costco has identified a top pick for property to open its first store in Wichita, but no one with the cost-cutting competitor to Sam’s Club is talking yet.

Sources says the Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco is interested in the northeast corner of Kellogg and Webb Road, which is Hawker Beechcraft property.

“We do not have any information or comments to provide at this time,” Hawker spokeswoman Nicole Alexander said in an e-mail.

Hawker’s bankruptcy doesn’t appearing to be hurting a potential Costco deal, although it sounds like it may be slowing things.

In April, Have You Heard? reported that Costco was once again seriously eyeing Wichita – as it had several years ago before a deal fell apart.

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Costco may be close to a Wichita deal

WICHITA — Wichita, you just may get your wish for a Costco — maybe even relatively soon — though how close the company is to a deal depends on who you talk to.

The Issaquah, Wash.-based chain, which sells bulk items similar to Sam’s Club stores, has been eyeing Wichita again.

“I came to the market to look at the market on a macro basis,” says co-founder and executive chairman Jeff Brotman. “I didn’t like anything I saw.”

Brotman says that “without disclosing our deepest, darkest secrets,” he can say that the locations he looked at didn’t fit with the way the market moves, meaning its natural trade areas.

“I have a mild interest,” Brotman says. “I’m interested in everything, right? . . . It’s just hard to focus on things that aren’t burning priorities.”

That’s not how others tell it. According to them, Costco is close enough to a deal that a 2013 opening isn’t out of the question.

Even Brotman says, “Let’s just assume it was true: I wouldn’t tell you about it. Even after we get a property under control, we don’t talk about it until after we have permits.”

In summer 2010, The Eagle conducted a poll of what businesses Wichitans would like to have in the city.

Costco narrowly lost the top choice to Cheesecake Factory.

“I was a little disappointed that we came in second,” Costco co-founder and then-CEO Jim Sinegal joked at the time. “I’ve got to be prepared to deal with these little disappointments in life.”

Costco has previously been close to at least one other deal here, and Sinegal said a finalized deal is simply a matter of the company giving Wichita some attention.

“Meaning . . . we get off our butts and go take a look,” he said. “At any point and time, we probably have 100 different sites we’re looking at.”

Sources say several sites have been under consideration over the last six months or so.

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Costco would like to be in Wichita once there’s a distribution center nearby

WICHITA — There’s good news and bad news when it comes to Costco and its prospects for coming to Wichita.

The good news is that businessman and developer Tom Devlin wants to help bring the discount chain here.

He contacted a friend of his who has developed more than 50 Costcos.

The friend contacted Costco.

Costco said it wants to be in Wichita.

Here’s where the bad news comes in, though.

The retailer apparently can’t come yet because there’s not a distribution center close enough to support stores here.

Devlin was ready to help with that, too.

“I was willing to do anything because I think Costco is a terrific retail company, and they’d be terrific for Wichita,”  he says. “They’re great merchandisers, and they know they’ll do well in Wichita when they get here.”

Devlin has been told Costco believes Wichita could support two of its stores — just like competitor Sam’s Club has a store on either side of town.

Devlin suggested about four sites for the chain to consider.

“I wasn’t even trying to sell anything I owned,” he says. “I was just trying to get Costco to Wichita. I didn’t care where they went.”

If he were to take a gamble, Devlin says he’d bet Costco will be here no later than five years from now, but most likely within three.

“So, we’ll have to be patient,” he says.

“I tried.”

What businesses do you want in Wichita? We’d like to know . . .

WICHITA — There are two business questions readers seem to ask more than any others.

When is Wichita getting a Cheesecake Factory?

Why don’t we have a Costco?

Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods make popular topics as well.

Why aren’t they here? Are they coming?

Same with Pottery Barn. Steak ‘n Shake. Crate & Barrel. Joe’s Crab Shack. Bass Pro. Macy’s. IKEA. Whataburger.

The list goes on.

We’d like to know what’s on your list. Is there a restaurant or retail business you’d love to have here and wonder if there’s a chance it will come?

Let us know at whatwewant@wichitaeagle.com, and we’ll try and find out.

We’ll be printing what we learn in a couple of weeks.

With any luck, perhaps we can convince a few favorites that Wichita could indeed support them.

Phil Ruffin to expand Harper Trucks once again with a major account

WICHITA — Phil Ruffin is preparing to expand his Harper Trucks in a big way once again.

The Wichita-based company is the largest hand truck (a two-wheeled dolly) manufacturer in the world.

In 2008, Ruffin bought California-based Angelus Manufacturing, which gave him a West Coast presence and meant the company would be in Costco and Sears stores there. The acquisition gave Harper quite a few accounts it hadn’t had previously.

Now, Ruffin has done a deal to be in another “major retailer.”

He’s not revealing that retailer yet — look for details in March — but he says it’s a huge deal.

Ruffin this week filed a building permit for $310,000 to expand his more than 400,000-square-foot building at 1522 S. Florence.

“We needed the additional space to accommodate that new business that’s coming on,” he says.

Ruffin will also hire an additional 20 to 25 employees in March to make the hand trucks.

You don’t say

“How can this be? How will I survive? Is it true?”
— Lawrence resident Brad Serafine, who is joining Foulston Siefkin this summer and wants to know if it’s true that Wichita doesn’t have a Costco (it, of course, is true)