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PHOTO GALLERY: Kwik Trip Embraces Next Generation Store Model

The design allocates more square footage to the retailer's proprietary Hot Spot food program.
Danielle Romano
Kwik Trip logo

LA CROSSE, Wis. — In December 2021, Kwik Trip Inc. marked a milestone with the opening of the chain's 800th convenience store. With this move, the La Crosse, Wis.-based retailer doubled its store count in eight years, having opened its 400th store in Chisago City, Minn., in 2013.

The momentous store, located on the crossroads interchange of Highways 53 and 35 in Holmen, Wis., showcases Kwik Trip's Generation 3 model, which incorporates an open market feel and softer colors. A large open area where guests enter the store invites them to browse all the retailer's proprietary food and beverage centers.

The Generation 3 model is a concept that has been in the works since Kwik Trip began, Steve Wrobel, the company's public relations manager, told Convenience Store News.

Kwik Trip's roots go back to 1965 when the very first stores sold no fuel at all. They were converted and rebranded corner grocery stores. What made these stores successful was the innovation of owner Don Zietlow, who retired as president and CEO on Dec. 31 after 52 years leading the company. Zietlow used his personal experience in the grocery, supply chain and delivery arenas to bring fresh milk, bread, baked goods, produce and meat to guests at a reasonable price.

Fast forward to present day, and the design of the Generation 3 stores is very much a collaboration that involves every department at Kwik Trip — incorporating the efforts of the store engineering, retail, marketing, food safety and real estate teams.

"Everyone has a seat at the table for our store design," Wrobel pointed out.

Fresh Design, Fresh Offers

While the Holmen Kwik Trip was not the first of the retailer's stores to showcase the Gen 3 model, it was the first of its kind to be built in the La Crosse area. Holmen is a short 15-minute commute from the company's headquarters and is one of the more rapidly growing areas of western Wisconsin.

"La Crosse is home base for Kwik Trip with daily delivery routes from our central distribution center transported by our own Convenience Transportation LLC. This allows Kwik Trip stores to carry the freshest product possible," Wrobel said. "Kwik Trip is widely recognized as one of the most vertically integrated c-store chains in the nation. Another of our ownership's visions is to keep growing the business so that when coworkers come to work at Kwik Trip, they have opportunities to advance and stay with the company from high-school age all the way to retirement."

Boasting 9,000 square feet, the Holmen Gen 3 store eclipses a typical Kwik Trip store by 2,000 square feet. The design allocates more square footage to the retailer's proprietary Hot Spot food program, which continues to drive foot traffic inside its stores since debuting 20 years ago. Kwik Trip also has invested heavily in its take-home meal program and its fried chicken program.

"Both have been a huge hit with today's lifestyles. People on the go want choices they can grab that taste great and that the entire family can enjoy," explained Wrobel.

More food choices require a larger display area and a larger prep area. The kitchen prep area of Gen 3 stores has more room for fryers, ovens, dishwashers and storage, along with freezers and refrigeration for safe food-handling practices.

"People love the open feel of our Generation 3 stores that invites people to browse and grab a coffee, a bakery treat, a hot slice of pizza or sandwich, chicken tenders, and many other food items at an affordable price," Wrobel told CSNews. "In today's inflationary economy, people are looking for a value. Kwik Trip can help the budget with limited-time offers on essential commodities such as eggs, bread, milk and produce."

Other products and amenities available include:

  • A forecourt with 10 multiproduct dispensers that allow for fueling simultaneously on both sides of the fuel canopy;
  • A side diesel canopy with three diesel islands — the canopy is trucker friendly, allowing for pull-through access for trucks and recreational vehicles;
  • A car wash;
  • Indoor and outdoor seating; and
  • The Kwik Card credit card and the proprietary Kwik Rewards loyalty program, where points build with every visit and are redeemable for free products. The program often features special drawings for merchandise.

Expansion Plans

Today, Kwik Trip operates 840 stores across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan.

Although the retailer has opportunities to expand its footprint in the states it currently operates in, the company is looking to expand its reach into South Dakota in 2023.

Plans this year call for a total of 40 new stores within Kwik Trip's six-state footprint. All the company's new stores are built according to the Generation 3 specifications and amenities.

About the Author

Danielle Romano

Danielle Romano

Danielle Romano is Managing Editor of Convenience Store News. She joined the brand in 2015. Danielle manages the overall editorial production of Convenience Store News magazineShe is also the point person for the candy & snacks and small operator beats.

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