With trucks pulling dirt and crews clearing out the forest-like area on Howdershell Road near Interstate 270, Hazelwood Patch readers have been asking about what's being built on the large clear tract. From Facebook, to my firstname.lastname@example.org email, people have inquired hoping for a new Chic-fil-A, a grocery store and an IKEA.
But it's none of these. It's a Generation 3 (Gen 3).
Gen 3 is QuikTrip's new prototype store.
With a decline in sales of what was once all gas station's most purchased products, gasoline and cigarettes, the company is diversifying.
"There are currently 60 to 65 Gen 3 stores in operation and another 40 in construction nationwide," said Mike Thornbrugh, QuikTrip's manager Public/Gov. Affairs. "Generation 3 is where we are headed in the future, and the goal is to be more food proficient."
According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, fuel consumption is expected to decline by as much as 20 percent during the next 10 years as a result of rising fuel costs and improving electric and hybrid vehicle technology, and QuikTrip's Gen 3 store reflects this.
Starting off slow
The gasoline and convenience store chain has been in the making for some time in Hazelwood. A company representative approached Hazelwood City Council early in the year about permits for the new location. The company even had to come back and request a land use permit extension on June 6, because development wasn't moving as quickly as hoped.
What's the big deal?
What makes the new QuikTrip a big to-do?
The larger stores will enable the chain to expand its fresh-food offerings.
The store will be about 20 percent larger than the current Howdershell location and will be able to compete with other coffee shops with the inclusion of the made-to-order coffee drinks and ice cream service.
“Typically, everything is self-service at QuikTrip,” Thornbrugh said. “Now we’re getting into the specialty business with hot and cold drinks where we make them for customers."
Thornbrugh also said compared with a typical QuikTrip that is 4,300 square feet, there is a significant amount more parking at the 5,000 plus square feet Gen 3 model, along with six entry and exit points into the locations to make navigating in-and-out a simpler process.
"The design inside and out is also completely different," Thornbrugh said. "The outside looks like a hybrid of a grocery store (see article photo gallery for pictures).
Why not renovate the current location?
Thornbrugh said there are a couple reasons for the new construction: space and location. Typically the older generation models aren't equipped.
"The current location doesn't have enough land to do the Generation 3 store." Thornbrugh said. "A lot of the time the shift in traffic patterns and a more desirable location are also reasons for the store conversions."
So what will happen to the old location?
The goal is to sell the current Howdershell QuikTrip location when the new one opens, Thornbrugh said.
"Ultimately we will sell it with deed restrictions, which means we won't sell it to a business that can compete, or something we deem to be undesirable," he said.
The goal is for the store to open in late April or early May 2013.
There is currently *one Gen 3 location in St. Louis currently and it's located in St. John, 8583 St. Charles Rock Rd., St. John, MO 63114.
*Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect only one Generation 3 QuikTrip location in the Greater St. Louis Area.