Hibbett Sports to open in Goddard Sept. 13

WICHITA — The new Hibbett Sports opening in Goddard should be ready for business on Sept. 13.

“It’ll be a big deal to the town,” says Brad Walton, Midwest real estate manager for the Birmingham, Ala.-based company.

Hibbett sells athletic footwear and apparel and hard goods for sports such as basketball, baseball, football and soccer.

Walton says where Wal-Mart – which also is in Goddard – has more lower-priced items, Hibbett’s carries more medium-to-high-priced items.

The chain has stores in Hutchinson, Derby and Pratt.

“Typically what we do is a little bit more isolated,” Walton says of where the company chooses to locate.

“Pratt is kind of what we like to do.”

That’s what he calls an isolated market with “limited or no competition.”

The chain likes markets where there generally aren’t stores such as Academy Sports and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“We try to go where we’re needed,” Walton says.

The 5,000-square-foot Goddard store is opening in Goddard Plaza at 19931 W. Kellogg, which is near Kellogg and South 199th St. West.

“Goddard to us is a really fast-growing market with a lot of potential,” Walton says. “It’s the growth potential and trying to get ahead of the growth potential.”

The chain currently has 950 stores and will have more than 1,000 by the end of the year.

Walton says he’s considering other Kansas markets as well.

“Newton, Kan., is a great market we’d like to be in.”

Walton says he had a deal in Wellington, but it fell through. He says it make take a few years, but he hopes deals happen there and in Newton.

For now, though, the Goddard store will be it.

“It’s going to be a good store,” Walton says. “Hopefully these people won’t have to drive all the way into Wichita to get their sporting goods.”

Pat Ayars, co-founder of Oxford Senior Living, dies of complications from cancer

Pat Ayars

Pat Ayars

WICHITA — Longtime Wichita businessman Pat Ayars died Wednesday morning following complications from cancer.

“He was an eternal optimist, so regardless of how awful he might have felt, he put a smile on his face,” said Coryanne Graham, marketing and brand manager at Oxford Senior Living, which Ayars co-founded in 2010.

“This is something that Pat has been dealing with for a number of months and had no reason to believe it wasn’t going to come to a good conclusion,” Graham said.

“He’d say … ‘I’m going to get better. We’re going to do this. We’re going to do that.’”

Ayars, who would have turned 56 on Friday, was Oxford’s president.

“In recent months, Pat had positioned the company to transition his responsibilities so that his vision for Oxford would continue long after he was gone,” chief operating officer Jason Wiley said in a statement.

“He ensured this company would never hinge on just one person, but no one could ever fill his shoes fully. Pat was a tremendous motivator and visionary.”

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Whole Foods Market to open in Wichita at the new Waterfront Plaza

UPDATED — A new phase of the Waterfront development will be the home of Whole Foods Market when it arrives in Wichita next year.

“It’s very big for us,” said Stephen Clark II, who is managing the project, of landing the organic and natural food chain.

“It could be beneficial for the whole market,” Clark said. He said retailers such as Whole Foods Market and the new Cabela’s that entered the market earlier this year attract other big names.

“The more of that you can get, the more interest there is from others.”

Clark’s father, Steve Clark, and fellow Waterfront developer Johnny Stevens are building a new 70,000-square-foot retail center called Waterfront Plaza on the northwest corner of 13th and Webb Road, which Stephen Clark says is part of the larger Waterfront development on the northeast corner.

Whole Foods will anchor the development with a 30,000-square-foot store that Clark said will open in November 2013.

“We just feel that it’s really going to pair well with the community,” said Ben Friedland, executive marketing coordinator of the Rocky Mountain region for Whole Foods Market.

“One of the things that we’re most excited about is we’re a very decentralized organization, which allows us to build stores that are very specific to the communities in which they live,” he said. He said the chain partners with local producers who meet Whole Foods Market standards to sell their items so the store is “going to be endemic to the community, and it’s going to take on its local flair and its local flavor.”

“We’re just really excited about the abundance of local products available.”

Friedland said the Austin-based chain, which has 325 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, has been looking at Wichita for a couple of years.

“It’s another feather in the cap of Wichita for bringing the big names that wouldn’t touch us two to five years ago,” said Don Piros of Landmark Commercial Real Estate. “It’s the domino effect. You bring one or two here, and the rest think, geez, maybe we should be here.”

Piros is handling leasing at the remaining 40,000 square feet at Waterfront Plaza in addition to retail and office leasing within the larger Waterfront area east of Webb Road. That includes a new 4.3 acre area under development north of Chester’s Chophouse & Wine Bar where two new office buildings are slated to be under construction soon.

Piros said he’s close on a few potential Waterfront Plaza tenants. Clark said landing Whole Foods helps.

“People want to be next to Whole Foods, and we expect a lot more activity out there.”

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Mattress Hub continues rapid expansion

WICHITA — Wichita-based Mattress Hub is continuing its aggressive expansion across the region with several new stores and several more in the works.

“It’s just because we’re crazy, I guess,” says Mark Barrientos, who is partners in the business with Ryan Baty.

Friday, they opened a new 7,000-square-foot store at 611 S. Dugan, which is what Barrientos calls Mattress Mile because of all the mattress competition along there.

“We had a great grand opening response,” he says.

Then it was on to Stillwater, Okla., where a Mattress Hub opened Tuesday.

Next is the Mattress Hub Clearance Center, which will open next month at the Plaza West shopping center at Central and West. That’s where Wal-Mart is building one of its Neighborhood Markets.

Barrientos says the 4,000-square-foot clearance center makes sense because of the company’s 12-month comfort guarantee, which allows customers to return mattresses for up to a year. The store mostly will be stocked with those returns.

In early July, Mattress Hubs will open in Dodge City and Topeka, which will make 14 stores for the 3½-year-old company.

“Yeah, it’s pretty good growth,” Barrientos says.

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An uncomfortable but timely reminder follows Kansas Food Bank donation

Kansas Food Bank CEO Brian Walker with Denise and me.

Kansas Food Bank CEO Brian Walker with Denise and me.

There was an interesting little juxtaposition of events in my life on Friday.

First, Denise Neil and I stopped by the Kansas Food Bank to drop off the $1,316 raised at our second On the Town With Carrie and Denise event.

Then, that night, I came down with a horrible stomach bug that has left me fairly miserable since then. What does one have to do with the other?

Well, after days of not eating much, I woke at 5 a.m. Tuesday with maddeningly loud, almost painful hunger pangs. I was so hungry I couldn’t get back to sleep. I rolled out of bed, dragged myself downstairs, still sort of stunned at what I was doing, and ate a piece of bread and some crackers. Finally, I could concentrate on getting some rest.

It was a sad glimpse into what life must be like every day for thousands of Kansans who don’t have enough to eat, except they don’t have cabinets full of food at the ready when the need strikes.

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Wal-Mart is building a new store in Augusta

UPDATED — Wal-Mart, which is working on a number of deals for Neighborhood Markets here, continues to be active in the greater Wichita area.

The Arkansas retailer is looking to build a new store in Augusta.

Wal-Mart is negotiating for land on the west side of the city along Highway 54, which also is called Seventh Street, directly to the west of Parks Chevrolet.

At a planned approximately 110,000 square feet, the new store would be more than double the size of the current store, which is on the north end of Augusta. That store will close when the new one opens.

A Wal-Mart spokesman didn’t return a call for comment.

Wal-Mart is close to final Neighborhood Market deals at 21st and Amidon, 13th and Oliver and possibly 31st South and Seneca

WICHITA — Some Wichita investors have the Marina Lakes shopping center under contract on the southwest corner of 21st and Amidon, which is directly across from Twin Lakes.

Those investors in turn have a contract with Wal-Mart for the chain to put one of its Neighborhood Markets in part of the space.

The market, which is a small grocery concept, would go on the north end of the center.

This doesn’t mean that it’s a done deal, though.

First, the investors have to close on the property. The earliest that will happen is the first part of 2011.

Only then can the Wal-Mart deal be completed.

Wal-Mart has already closed deals for three other markets — at Central and Maize, Central and West and Harry and Webb — and there’s a good chance this deal could close as well.

However, as is the case with any deal like this, especially in this economy, nothing’s for sure until the deal is truly done.

Wal-Mart also has a contract to go to 13th and Oliver at Providence Square, though there are some hurdles yet to go.

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Wal-Mart keeps eyeing Wichita intersections for Neighborhood Markets

WICHITA — The Wal-Mart way is, not surprisingly, to not talk about any of its deals for new stores until they’re practically built — and maybe not even then.

But sources say the Arkansas retailer is still heavily scouting Wichita for more potential Neighborhood Markets.

As Have You Heard? previously reported, Wal-Mart has plans for its smaller grocery concept at Central and Maize and at Central and West.

Also, 31st South and Seneca is still percolating.

Though the company has looked at just about every important intersection in the city — and beyond — a few places that may be of particular interest keep popping up.

The chain is seriously eyeing Providence Square, the former KenMar shopping center, at 13th and Oliver. A letter of intent may even be imminent.

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Wal-Mart employee foils a shoplifter — and loses her job

WICHITA — Heather Ravenstein tried to save Wal-Mart some money Friday by foiling a shoplifter’s plan to steal a $600 computer, but it cost her her job.

“I’m a single mom, and I don’t know what I’m going to do,” says Ravenstein, who is 30.

She’s worked at the West Kellogg Wal-Mart for almost two years, most recently as a customer service manager.

Friday night around 10:20, she was standing near some registers when she saw a man with a computer coming up the main walkway of the store.

“Action Alley is what they call it,” she says.

“He was walking rather fast, so it caught my eye.”

Ravenstein says the man kept walking and set off an alarm. She went after him.

“Let me see your receipt, and then I’ll take this off for you,” she told the man, referring to a sensor on the computer.

Ravenstein says the man refused and kicked her.

“And then he punched me in my shoulder, and then he finally gave up and just let go of the computer.”

Ravenstein walked back into the store and sat on the floor.

“I was shaking pretty bad,” she says.

Assistant store managers immediately checked on her.

“They all came out and made sure I was OK,” Ravenstein says. “They thanked me.”

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Cheap-O Depot to open in Delano

WICHITA — More people than not are looking for bargains these days, and Ron and Ellen Bailey think they have some to offer.

They’re opening Cheap-O Depot in 2,100 square feet at Maple and Meridian in Delano.

They’ll sell discontinued items, overstocks and store returns from places like Wal-Mart, Kmart and JC Penney.

“We go through a reclamation company,” Ron Bailey says.

That could result in a range of items as varied as tools, toys and bedding.

Ron Bailey used to be a dairy manager for Dillons. He says he wanted his own business because he’s “just tired of working for corporate America.”

Ellen Bailey used to have the Dig This garden boutique in Delano.

The Baileys plan to open Cheap-O Depot June 1.