More than three years after entering Kansas with three lumber stores, Tulsa-based Mill Creek Lumber is preparing to open the first of three Mill Creek Flooring Centers .
The first will be in almost 16,000 square feet at 6422 W. Kellogg in the former Advance Auto Parts space (which most recently has been a temporary Halloween shop).
"It seems like that's where most of the larger carpet dealers are," Jack Rodden , president of Mill Creek Flooring Center, says of the west side. "We thought getting right there in between them would be the best thing to do."
The company also plans an east-side site and a third site in a yet-to-be-determined area.
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"We're looking every day," Rodden says.
Craig Ablah of Classic Real Estate handled the West Kellogg deal.
The store, which makes the 22nd for the company, will open June 15.
Rodden says he hopes to have the next deal done by the end of the year.
The stores will sell carpet, wood, ceramic, laminate and vinyl. They also will have windows, doors and cabinets, which will be in a full, working kitchen where a chef will cook once a month for designers and decorators.
Rodden says the ideal mix of customers for the flooring center is 35 percent builders and 65 percent retail shoppers.
Mill Creek Lumber entered Kansas in late 2006 when it purchased Thomas Lumber . It has stores in Wichita, just off of West Kellogg at 4010 W. Irving St., and in Belle Plaine and Wellington.
"They're doing a pretty good job getting quite a few builders now," Rodden says.
He says the flooring and lumber businesses will complement each other.
Mill Creek Lumber has two other core areas of business in addition to flooring.
It also has Bent River Lumber (a wholesale distribution company) and Wood Systems (which offers woodworking goods and services).
Mill Creek president Jeff Dunn says it was only natural to follow the lumber company's expansion into Kansas with the flooring center.
"This was all part of our strategy," he says. "We're awfully excited about Wichita as a market and serving the builder and remodeling community in Wichita."
The economy has hurt the flooring industry — Mill Creek's flooring sales are now $36 million annually compared to $42 million previously — but Dunn says expansion makes sense.
"It's a great time to be expanding," he says. "Opportunities arise when times are tough. When things are rocking along, you don't see tremendous opportunity."
He says Mill Creek is well capitalized and well run enough to withstand a tough economy and take advantage of it.
"Those with a good, sound game plan that can execute and have good resources are going to have a lot of fun."
Jeremy Wade kicked off his Jeremy Wade Catering with a party Tuesday night. On the heels of that development are plans by Wade and business partner Ben Arnold of Corporate Catering of Wichita to open a catering businesses and restaurant in the remodeled Drury Plaza Broadview Hotel restaurant.
The restaurant will have 286 seats over two floors. The upper floor will have a bar overlooking the restaurant, which is scheduled to open in spring 2011.
Wade says he'll offer "new American food," which he describes as iconic American food made really, really well.
"It's not going to be anything pretentious or froufrou," Wade says.
He's opting for an American menu rather than a Mediterranean or European menu because he feels those have been "played out" in Wichita.
"There's not really a good American restaurant around except for Chester's ," Wade says.
He plans to specialize with as much local produce and protein as he can.
Arnold says the "Drury people have just been fabulous through this whole thing," but the restaurant will be independent of the hotel.
The restaurant will be situated on the northeast corner of the hotel on the Waco side, and Arnold says it won't feel like a hotel restaurant.
Wade hasn't settled on a name yet.
Arnold would like to capitalize on Wade's own well-known name by doing something like Jeremy Wade's American Bistro .
"No, no, no," Wade says. "I'm not that guy."
He's open to suggestions, though.
"Maybe we should have a contest."
Planning to close
The Franklin Covey store in Bradley Fair is closing as of Saturday.
The store opened at the east-side shopping center in 1998.
No one with the company, which sells planners, business bags and software, will talk about the closing, though it looks like strong Internet sales could be a factor.