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    Dillons Surprises Competition with New Gas Station Format

    Grocer's first stand-alone kiosk location will sell typical c-store products.

    WITCHITA, Kan. -- In what is a break from convention, Dillons plans its first stand-alone gas station, not located in a grocery store parking lot.

    Scheduled to open next month, the new location will feature a small convenience kiosk, spokesperson Sheila Lowrie told The Wichita Eagle. "It's a convenience for our customers," Lowrie said. "Our customers are taking advantage of the additional fuel savings that we offer them, and this is another opportunity to provide them with the convenience."

    While Lowrie did not comment on plans for similar stores in the future, she explained that the kiosk would sell traditional c-store fare, including soda, candy, cigarettes and snacks. In addition, money orders and Western Union money transfers will be available.

    Industry analysts were surprised by the news, including Dotty Harpool, a marketing professor at Wichita State University. "Of all the industries they could get into, it's the least attractive because there's so little money to be made," Harpool said. "It could be that they're thinking long term, seeing that independents are closing up shop. It could be a Starbucks approach, a store on every corner to build multiple brand loyalty."

    For competitors like Casey's General Stores, the move was slightly suspicious. "It doesn’t surprise me too far, but I wonder why they wouldn't have expanded the Kwik Shop banner," Bill Walljasper, a spokesman for the Casey's chain, told The Wichita Eagle.

    "It's a destination product for us," Walljasper said, "not necessarily a loss leader, but more as a No. 1 destination product for a c-store. For us, as far as a gross profit contributor, it's the least profitable."

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