Huge Retailers Build In Wichita Despite Economic Slump

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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March 17, 2011

Local unemployment is up, which means fewer people have salaries to spend. But still, Wichita is seeing huge businesses pop up across the area.

One of those businesses is Menards, which managers say is already catching on even though it's been open less than a month on Maize Rd.

"People have a lot of interest and think that it's something new to the area so a lot of people want to see what it's about," said Menards General Manager Mike Anderson.

Menards isn't just opening one mega store in the Wichita area, but two. East Wichita resident Wayne Dunner lives near where Menards' second location with open this spring.

"I was here back in the 80's when Rock Rd. was the end of the world, and that certainly has changed since then," said Dunner.

Menards isn't the only thing bringing further change to the east side, the sporting goods store, Cabela's, is also planning to build just off K-96 and Greenwich.

"If you look at the retail sales, one of the sectors that has increased, one of the largest sectors, which I found surprising actually was hobby and sporting stores," said WSU Center for Economic Development and Business Research Director Jeremy Hill.

Hill says Cabela's will also have regional appeal and established popularity already on its side.

"There's a good chance it's going to be fairly successful here, but again it might cannibalize another retailer," said Hill.

Just as demand for sporting stores increases, business for home improvement retailers is also growing, with fewer people buying new homes and more people improving the homes they already have. This, as nationally retail sales and consumer confidence are rising.

"Although we have a whole bunch of people unemployed, [businesses] are hitting a curve that's starting to go up," said Hill.

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