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Couple to open northwest Wichita olive oil boutique

10/15/2013 7:23 AM

10/15/2013 7:31 AM

A vacation to Branson was the start of an idea that’s now turning into a new business for Lisa and John Madden.

The couple – she’s a customer relations specialist with Bombardier, and he’s in the Navy – were at Branson Landing when they came across a store devoted to selling olive oil.

They’ve been to similar stores in Kansas City and St. Louis “just to get a vibe for how they operate,” Lisa Madden says.

They’re now opening their own store, Olio’s Market, at 10051 W. 21st St. next to LaMar’s Donuts.

Olio is the Italian word for oil.

Olive oil is mainly what Olio’s will carry, but it also will have products that go well with oil, such as bread, pasta, and pizza crust. The store also will carry a line of salts, jam and pesto.

Lisa Madden says the oils Olio’s will carry will be about quality and variety.

“Most of the oils you buy in the supermarket don’t tell you when they were crushed or pressed and they don’t tell you the nutritional value,” she says.

Hers will have that information, Madden says.

The store will have 10 kinds of oils that are pressed from different olives. Madden says they’ll be pressed and sold within a six-month window.

There will be another 10 kinds of flavored oils, such as blood orange and basil-infused oil, on a seasonal basis.

Customers will be able to sample the oils, which Madden says “is a really cool thing.”

“There’s just a wide variety of things,” she says.

The store also will have 20 varieties of vinegar.

“There’s lots of really cool combinations,” Madden says of mixing the oil and vinegar.

One of her favorites is honey balsamic vinegar mixed with Persian lime-infused olive oil.

“It just rocks any balsamic you will have in any restaurant here in town.”

Olio’s, which will open by Oct. 25, will be in 1,800 square feet. About 1,500 of that will be a showroom.

John Madden, who is about to retire from the Navy, will run the store full time.

“My husband’s kind of an amateur foodie,” Madden says.

Her late mother, Enas Walker, was a home economics teacher at North High School for years.

“So consequently, I was raised in 4-H and cooking and food and that kind of thing.”

Madden says it’s not unreasonable to think a store that focuses mainly on olive oil sales can do well.

She says she thinks repeat business will come “once you taste the olive oils and you have the flexibility of mixing your own.”

“That will drive the market.”

She says it’s a popular concept elsewhere and “has been kind of slow getting there in Wichita.”

“I really think that there’s a market out there for it.”

As proof, Madden points to someone who sampled some of the Olio’s products.

“She said, ‘We don’t have to go to Kansas City for our oils anymore.’ ”

Final Thought

More than four decades after opening, Food For Thought is closing.

“It probably should have been done before now,” owner Melinda Foley says. “The competition in town is just getting tougher and tougher.”

Foley says her store is Wichita’s only full-service independent natural-foods market left in the area.

She says big-box competitors are an issue. The Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage chain opened in 2011.

“We kind of started seeing our numbers slip then,” Foley says. “And Bread and Circus is looming next year.”

That’s the Whole Foods chain that’s opening at the Waterfront.

“We are in a location where not as many people are shopping in this area as used to be,” Foley says.

The store has been at 2929 E. Central for the last 20 of its 42 years in business.

“It’s time for us to go out gracefully.”

The store has started a liquidation sale. Foley expects to close within a month.

“There’s going to be some awesome people out there looking for employment,” she says.

Foley says she didn’t try to sell the store.

“We just felt like it was time to just let it go,” she says. “We have so enjoyed serving this community, and we have made so many friends with our customers. That’s going to be really sad to let go.”

Not so Kwik decision

At long last, Haysville is getting a new Kwik Shop.

It looked like a new store was going to open a few years back, but it didn’t happen.

Now, one is under construction at the northeast corner of Grand and Meridian. It will replace the current store at 424 W. Grand.

“Haysville has been under review for some time by Kwik Shop,” director of real estate Clay Brasher said in an e-mail.

“Kwik Shop is extremely excited about the current store project, and we feel that our customers will be as well. Kwik Shop has received a lot of feedback from our customers in the Haysville community suggesting an upgrade to our current facility and offering, and we are very happy to be able to provide just that.”

At more than 7,500 square feet, the store will be bigger than Kwik Shop’s other new stores at 37th and Maize Road and 13th and Woodlawn.

There will be an expanded grocery area with more fresh items.

Look for the new Kwik Shop to open in 2014.

A new lease on life

It appears word may be circulating that Mead’s Corner is for sale, so First United Methodist Church senior pastor Kent Rogers wants to set the record straight:

“Absolutely not,” he says. “We just actually started our second five-year lease on the building.”

There will be a fifth birthday party on Dec. 7.

The church opened Mead’s Corner as a way to serve the community.

“It’s really a center for outreach ministry for us,” Rogers says. “If anything we would be looking in the days to come for opportunities for expansion.”

He says as the church looks back at the last five years and what the Mead’s Corner founders planned, “we’ll be talking about our next five years.”

There are no immediate plans, but Rogers says the church hopes to open in other areas of the city while keeping the downtown space.

In the meantime, he says, the plan is “just to continue to improve on what we’re doing.”

Carrie Rengers first reported these items on her blog. Be among the first to get her business scoops at blogs.kansas.com/haveyouheard.

About Carrie Rengers

Carrie Rengers joined The Eagle's Business team in 2002 despite her inability to even balance a checkbook. Fortunately for her, and readers, her Have You Heard? blog is about business scoops and contains lots of news but almost no math.

A Michigan native, Carrie’s father was quite tragically transferred to Little Rock, Ark., in the middle of her sophomore year of high school. To make matters worse, her parents put her in a girls school. She recovered, though, and went on to enjoy being an English major at Hendrix College (the Harvard of the Ozarks, don’t you know). She worked for the weekly Arkansas Business and the statewide daily Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before moving to Wichita to be with her favorite writer and cook, husband Joe Stumpe.

Carrie encourages readers to contact her with tips, questions, behind-the-scenes business news and even funny quotes from business people. Reach her at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com

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