Tulsa-based QuikTrip Corp. is celebrating a milestone with the opening of its 500th location, a newly built store in Broken Arrow.
The convenience chain is also celebrating 50 years in business.
QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said the company is focusing on expansion and has had the 500th store in mind for years.
"It's incredible (the growth) we've seen," he said. "We operate in a very limited area — nine states, 500 stores — and we sell about 1.7 percent of all the gasoline in the U.S."
Clean, well-maintained locations, outstanding personnel and quality gasoline are the main reasons the company's customers have made QuikTrip so successful, Thornbrugh said.
Over the years, the company has closed about 420 stores deemed unsatisfactory, he said. Renovating older stores and building new ones to replace outdated models has helped the company maintain quality.
"A lot of them were profitable, but they just didn't maintain our standards. So we're always building new facilities, updating new facilities, and when a facility no longer meets our needs, we shut them down," Thornbrugh said, adding that the company is also particular about finding new occupants for closed locations so the buildings do not become eyesores.
The 500th store, at 501 W. Kenosha St., was designated more or less at random, Thornbrugh said.
"It just happened to fall into that category. It was almost going to be in Derby, Kan.," he said.
QuikTrip personnel previously told the Tulsa World that the 500th store was planned for the site of the demolished Camelot Hotel. Thornbrugh said the company was initially excited about building at that location because it is about two blocks away from the first QuikTrip store, built in 1958 at 5204 S. Peoria Ave.
"That was our hope and desire, but we probably reacted on emotion instead of common business sense," he said. "We were edged out by road construction."
Access would have been hampered by planned road and highway construction projects, he said.
It is fitting, perhaps, that the 500th store was built in Broken Arrow; Thornbrugh said the company is working to build a stronger presence in that city.
"Broken Arrow is an area we've been looking into for some time," he said. "We just so happened to find three pieces of property that we liked."
In addition to the 500th store at Elm Place and Kenosha, two more locations are planned — at Kenosha and Olive Avenue, and at 81st Street and Garnett Road.
QuikTrip, which operates 55 Tulsa-area stores, employs 10,500 people. Sales last year totaled $8.3 billion, the company says.
50 YEARS OF QUIKTRIP CORP.
1958 — First store opens at 5204 S. Peoria Ave., near the future location of the Camelot Hotel1971 — QuikTrip acquires 28 stores from Wichita-based convenience store chain Shop-EZE, bringing the company’s reach to more than 100 locations1972 — First gasoline pumps introduced at QuikTrip stores1978 — Store 200 opens in Raytown, Mo. All QuikTrip locations begin staying open 24 hours. Quittin’ Time beer is introduced and marketed, with commercials starring “Lamar the Dog”1983 — In Missouri, QuikTrip builds its first distribution center1991 — QuikTrip unveils its “Guaranteed Gasoline” pledge, which continues today1992 — Store 300 opens in Sand Springs1999 — Fountain drink and co)ee bar offerings are expanded; roomier, remodeled stores appear2002 — Store No. 400 opens in Tempe, Ariz.
Jeff Postelwait 581-8387