Carrie Rengers

Trader Joe’s confirms it is ‘taking the necessary steps’ for a Wichita store

The much-requested Trader Joe’s grocery chain is “taking the necessary steps” to bring one of its stores to Bradley Fair at 21st and Rock Road.

“We are interested, and we are working to bring a store to that area,” said Kenya Friend-Daniel, public relations director for the California company.

Foodies across the city were disappointed when Fresh Market closed at the development in 2016, but Trader Joe’s would be a welcome replacement to many.

There’s been a “We Need a Trader Joe’s in Downtown Wichita” Facebook page since 2011. Other than a Cheesecake Factory, it seems to be the business more people want here than anything else.

Trader Joe’s, which opened its 488th store on Friday, has been eyeing the Wichita market for some time.

Friend-Daniel said that “everything is all about timing whenever we go into . . . areas.”

“It’s the right space. There’s a desire from . . . the community to have us there. That’s always the first step.”

Laham Development, the Bradley Fair developer, is not announcing a Trader Joe’s deal.

“We are working on a lot of exciting things at Bradley Fair right now but have nothing to announce at this time,” said spokeswoman Amy Liebau.

“We would love to have Trader Joe’s,” Liebau said. “They’re one of the best retailers . . . in the country.”

Friend-Daniel calls Trader Joe’s “a great neighborhood grocery store” that conforms to its surroundings.

For years, Wichitans have been traveling to shop at Trader Joe’s in Leawood and surrounding states.

The company’s Two Buck Chuck wine is universally popular — and would not immediately be available here due to Kansas liquor laws — but other must-have items vary from person to person.

That includes chocolate bars, cherry juice, coconut oil packets for traveling, fancy cocktail cherries, cranberry orange biscotti, triple ginger cookies, Marcona almonds with rosemary, “crack” cheddar cheese and Kalamata olive oil among many other things.

From a distribution standpoint, a Wichita Trader Joe’s makes sense. It’s in the middle of a sea of stores the company has in Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas.

It’s not clear which space Trader Joe’s would take at Bradley Fair, although there appears to be work going on at the former Fresh Market space.

There are vacancies where Fresh Market, Bed Bath & Beyond and Versona were. It sounds like Laham Development may be getting ready to make a slew of announcements.

Look for more news soon.