For those who are already missing the Washington Street gas station at North Fourth Street in north Brainerd, a new plan is in place for the former SuperAmerica station and convenience store.
The new Mid-Town Depot is expected to open in four to six weeks with more fresh food offerings, a larger inventory for the convenience store and more frozen food offerings, including ice cream. And the gas station will also be back in business.
The SuperAmerica store and station closed this fall. Chad Knudson, owner of the Wild Rice Depot in south Brainerd and the Cornerstore along Highway 210 toward Pillager, said he’s been in talks with Kelly Bevans about the site for about a month. Last week, they closed on a sale agreement with Knudson purchasing the building. Bevans, who operates Kelly’s Service, is currently and will continue to operate his service business on site. Knudson said he purchased the building from Bevans for $625,000.
Knudson plans to continue the gas station with Cenex, a company he’s worked with for 12 years. It’s possible the fuel pumps will be open earlier than the full store. Work is currently going on to renovate the convenience store and update the building with demolition of the counters and other interior work.
Knudson said he is investing several hundred thousand dollars in the renovations. When the store reopens, customers should expect the snacks and candy along with light groceries -- but more inventory overall. The addition of more freezers will provide more opportunities for frozen food and ice cream. For a convenience store, Knudson said the whole idea is to provide inventory for people who need something quick and easy.
As for employees, Knudson said he hired two women who worked for the SuperAmerica store and will employ about six more workers.
In his due diligence before making the decision to buy the business, Knudson said he talked to north Brainerd residents and others. He believes the store will be successful long term as it has a good location, has a large residential area nearby, was already doing business before the previous station owners decided to downsize their holdings and not continue to lease the space (they already closed one other neighborhood station on Oak Street). And, he added, it builds on the work Brainerd is already doing to improve the city.
“There is no reason why that isn’t a successful place,” he said.
Knudson said waiting to have everything in order to open isn’t easy.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” he said of opening.
The building, he noted, needed work and said there is a lot he can do to make it better. He’s already heard from people who are glad to have the station back in business. Improvements include new lighting, new flooring and adding a red awning to the exterior. In addition to the physical changes, plans include adding fresh food that is ready to go. Knudson works with a caterer at his Wild Rice Depot location and expects to offer chef salads, ham and cheese sandwiches and other fresh food. Adding another walk-in cooler will make more options available.
Knudson has been in the business for some time. His parents purchased the Wild Rice Depot in 1987 and he moved back to the area after college in 1995 and worked in the family business, eventually buying his father out in 2006 and buying the Corner Store in 2013.
Knudson has several irons in the fire, including selling cars and leasing commercial space.
In the Biz Buzz on the restoration of the windows and the newly installed awning at Bob and Fran’s Factory Direct, the story should have identified one of the companies working on the effort as Canvas Tech in Pine River, not Pine River Canvas.
Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.