Fleming Corp. Leaving Wichita

PITTSBURGH, Kan. -- Fleming Corp., operator of 10 convenience stores headquartered here, is selling two of its three stores in Wichita, Kan., as competition from larger chains such as QuikTrip and Kwik Shop is forcing the company to reduce its footprint there, the Wichita Eagle reported.

Currently, the gas tanks are being removed at the company's expense and buildings are being demolished at the two locations, company president Ed Roitz told the paper, adding the sites will be sold as development land. The sites went on the market in April as convenience stores, but could not generate interest, he said.

"Our obligation as the owners right now is to do the right thing," Roitz told the paper. "It's expensive, but unless you're going to sell fuel, it's always a good idea to get the tanks out."

Earlier this year, the company sold an area Valero-branded store and Roitz declined to comment on its truck stop located in the area.

"I don't think I want to elaborate on that," he told the paper. "We have good employees there."

Fleming Corp. entered Wichita, Kan., in 2003, when it bought the two locations that are currently up for sale from Amoco, according to the report.

Fleming is an example of several Kansas independent gas retailers, according to Jim Selenke of Wichita, Kan.-based Parker Oil, who is also past president of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas.

"I talked a while back to another operator who got out, and he had it right," Selenke told the Eagle. "When you look up and you're making more on a 32-ounce soft drink than on a 20-gallon gas sale, it's time to get out of the business."

He continued: "Credit cards are an absolute killer in the industry. With gas approaching $3 and you're paying 3 percent, it's not uncommon to lose a bunch on a sale," Selenke said.

Fleming still has two convenience stores in metropolitan Kansas City and four in central Kansas, according to the report.

"It's a time of transition for me, for sure," he said. "Just because we've been in the convenience store business for 30 years doesn't mean we deserve to be here for another 30."
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