WICHITA — Northern Tool & Equipment is having its one-year anniversary in Wichita, and the company says the store's performance in the Westgate shopping center on West Kellogg is worth celebrating.
"It's actually outdelivering our expectations," says Roger Bunn, vice president for retail for the Minnesota-based company.
Of the dozen or so new stores the company opened in the last year, Bunn says, "Wichita's second and third in pretty much all of our key financials."
That's saying something in a down economy, especially since it relates to the troubled construction business.
Bunn attributes the success to a few things.
"It's a heavy concentration of our target customers," he says of blue-collar workers and white-collar workers with blue-collar backgrounds.
Also, Bunn says, "It's a really large trade area."
Customers come from as far as two hours away, he says.
"There was a real pent-up demand for our product."
The Wichita store is about 60 percent the size of a traditional Northern Tool, but Bunn says all its products can be shipped for free to the store.
"Even though we've skinnied down the assortment ... the customer still has full access to what we carry."
So is it possible the chain will bring a second store here?
"That's always a hard question," Bunn says. "I would be surprised if we do that."
He adds, though, "I wouldn't rule it out."