Soon-to-be-constructed Kwik Shop promises convenience for Innovation Campus

An Innovation Campus business survey in December asked, “What’s the most coveted type of retail business the Innovation Campus might attract to Wichita State?”

If you’re one of the 4,334 members of the WSU community who participated in the survey in December, there’s about a 90 percent chance your answer was “a convenience store.”

Later this year, Kwik Shop, Inc., plans to make that wish come true.

“There have been so many times I was headed home from campus and wished we had something like that here,” said Catherine Van Amburg, a junior communication student.

Right now, the nearest fueling stations to WSU are the old QuikTrip at 13th Street and Oliver, 1.4 miles away, or the new QuikTrip on Oliver, north of K-96, 2.4 miles away. There is one gas station closer that some students aren’t aware of — Evans Corner Store on 21st Street across from Sonic, less than half-a-mile away, but Van Amburg and many other students prefer not to go there.

The lot Kwik Shop has purchased is at the northeast corner of 21st Street and Oliver, just a stone’s throw across the street from campus. The company has also purchased an existing building in the development for use as a training center.

Kwik Shop representatives couldn’t be reached for comment about the new location — which will begin construction next month, the Wichita Business Journal reported — but Van Amburg was excited by the prospect.

“Oh my gosh, yes,” said Van Amburg, who’d just heard the news. “I am totally excited — so excited. We’ve totally needed one for a long time.”

There’s no evidence of any correlation between the email survey from President John Bardo’s office and the company’s decision to build a convenience store servicing WSU, but according to the man behind the survey, there certainly could have been.

“It was either a happy coincidence or they read something,” said Charles Burdsal, professor of psychology and director of WSU’s Social Science Research Laboratory. “It was far enough from the time I first gave the results to John (Bardo) that it’s entirely possible that they might have seen it. Or, if you look around, it doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out that there needs to be one somewhere in this area, so who knows?”

Bardo approached the Social Science Research Lab and its half-dozen graduate student researchers with the project in late September. Burdsal said Bardo had two goals for the information generated by the survey.

“One was just the face value — to find out what people wanted,” Burdsal said. “The second part was to involve the entire WSU community in this project, and I think he’s been successful with both of them.”

The survey wasn’t a true marketing study. Nevertheless, Burdsal said the University was using it as a tool to bring businesses like Kwik Shop to Innovation Campus.

A request to participate in the survey was sent to 2,711 WSU employees and 14,931 students and returned 4,334 responses — a 24.5 percent response rate. Burdsal said that was excellent, considering there was no benefit offered for participation other than the chance to give input.

Another aspect of the survey Kwik Shop is fulfilling was the respondents’ strong preference for local businesses. Kwik Shop is a sister company of Dillons Supermarkets, Inc., and both are operated by The Kroger Co., which is based in Hutchinson.

“An awful lot of folks really thought it quite important that these be local businesses,” Burdsal said. “I can understand that.”