Carrie Rengers

Walmart at Central, Woodlawn? Maybe not

It looks like the potential deal for a Walmart Neighborhood Market at Normandie Center is off.

Debbie McNeal of RP Realty Partners says she has no idea what's going on with Walmart, but she's trying to find new tenants for the Star Lumber and Whole Foods spaces.

That's "because the owners told me to go ahead."

Whole Foods is moving from its space to the former Gessler Drug Co. space to make room for Walmart.

Gessler had planned on moving anyway, but its time line was moved up because of Walmart. It's now where AAA Kansas used to be, next to Il Vicino near Douglas and Oliver.

McNeal has 32,000 square feet to lease where Whole Foods is vacating and Star Lumber used to be.

She has another 4,000 square feet where YB Meats was. And she has some office space north of the former Star Lumber building as well.

The only certain Walmart Neighborhood Market for Wichita so far is at Central and Maize.

The sunny side

Not everyone necessarily knows her by name, but if you've ever been in the Old Mill Tasty Shop , you've no doubt noticed the friendly, funny, always-smiling Gale Cowan .

The restaurant surprised her Monday by celebrating her 25th anniversary of being a waitress there.

"I thought, am I going to die and nobody told me about it?" Cowan says of all the fuss.

She wasn't expecting a celebration because her actual 25th anniversary of working there came in August, but neither Cowan nor anyone else thought about it then.

In all her years at Old Mill, Cowan says she never thought about working somewhere else.

"Not for a second," she says. "It's just fun here."

Nor did she think about opening her own place.

"No, because when I walk out the door, I don't have anything to think about."

The secret to enjoying herself, Cowan says, is positive thinking.

If someone at the restaurant asks her to sweep the floor, her thought is, "I'm glad they didn't ask me to mop it."

'Perfect place'

A new tobacco shop is opening in Towne West Square today.

Mary and Maher Gerges are opening Shesha Tobacco Shop near JC Penney .

"My husband's just always wanted a place over there," Gerges says.

She says their small space is where another tobacco shop was a few years back.

"He just decided that would be the perfect place for it."

They'll sell a variety of tobacco, including cigars and tobacco for hookah water pipes.

There will be a few odds-and-ends items, too, like mints, gum and incense.

GNC to open in Derby

GNC is the latest business to sign a lease at Derby Marketplace at 71st South and Rock Road.

The chain offers vitamins, supplements and other nutritional aids. A district manager says the store will carry the full GNC line and open sometime in February.