Crafters used to shop at the Michaels in Westgate Market on West Kellogg before the chain's latest Wichita store opened in NewMarket Square .
Now, that Westgate space is going to attract a different kind of craftsman.
Minneapolis-based Northern Tool & Equipment is taking the more than 18,000-square-foot former Michaels space to sell tools and equipment.
"We make it a very convenient one-stop shop," says Dave Ross , director of retail merchandising.
The company sells products in several core areas: outdoor power equipment, such as mowers and attachments; trailers and related parts; power washers; material-handling goods, such as moving devices and storage units; automotive supplies, such as jacks and engine lifts; and "one of the most expansive tool selections in all hand, air and power tools," Ross says.
Northern Tool manufactures a private label line as well and is making an entrance into work clothing.
There are 67 Northern Tool stores nationally, with large concentrations in the Midwest, Texas, the Carolinas and Florida.
This will be the company's first Kansas store.
Doug Malone of J.P. Weigand & Sons handled the lease for New York-based Kimco Realty Corp. , which owns the center.
Ross expects the store to be ready sometime in February.
He says a site selection team identified Wichita as a good market for Northern Tool according to demographics and need for the store's products.
Ross says a second Wichita store could follow depending on how the first one does.
"We're obviously interested in the area."
Question and answer
There was one obvious question when news broke Thursday that Kevin Conlin , the chief executive of Via Christi Health for almost seven years, would be leaving to become executive vice president of Coventry Health Care in Bethesda, Md.
Did Via Christi's sale of Preferred Health Systems to Coventry early this year have anything to do with Conlin's job change?
Yes, says Conlin, who wasn't available to talk Thursday.
Conlin met Coventry CEO Allen Wise during the sale, and the two later entered into some partnerships related to Medicare products.
"We got to know one another and figured out we kind of viewed the future of health care in similar fashions," Conlin says.
Their vision is to create seamless relationships with insurance companies that pay for health care and the physicians and hospitals that provide it.
"There needs to be really a working partnership among those three in order to improve quality and reduce costs," Conlin says.
"I'm being asked to provide some leadership to Coventry as it continues to implement this vision that they have for that."
During his time at Via Christi, Conlin is most proud of creating a centralized operating structure out of previously separated divisions.
"I believe we've been able to unlock a lot of the potential that was within Via Christi," he says. "It was getting those pieces working together with a common plan and a common direction."
Conlin says he'll miss the people he's worked with here most of all, not to mention Chester's Chophouse , too.
He says Coventry still has business here, though, so he'll be back.
"I will be around. It's not like I'm going forever."
You don't say
"Beechcraft sneezed, and I caught a cold."
—Larry Burke , owner of Copper Oven Cafe Bakery , on how business is off right now in part because of concerns over Hawker Beechcraft leaving Wichita