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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Weigel's is expanding its footprint beyond Knoxville for the first time, with new stores planned for the Chattanooga area.
The retailer's first Chattanooga store will rise at Signal Mountain Road and U.S. Highway 27, where part of an office and retail center is being torn down at the proposed site, CEO Bill Weigel told the Times Free Press.
The store, which will cost up to $2.5 million to build, is slated to open in the spring. It will measure 5,300 square feet and feature eight pumps and 16 fueling positions. The store will offer a variety to food-to-order items.
To date, Weigel's operates 62 stores in the Knoxville area.
Company officials are initially looking at putting up four stores, but Weigel said he'd like to have even more in Chattanooga and north Georgia.
"I'm green at this," the chief executive said. "I've always kept them close, where I could get to them every day."
According to the news report, Weigel's move into the Chattanooga market will be the biggest for that industry since Enon, Ohio-based Speedway LLC set up shop a couple of years ago. Speedway's interest in the Chattanooga area followed the entry of fellow heavyweights Pilot Flying J and RaceWay into the region.
The Chattanooga area is geographically the closest to the company's existing Knoxville stores, Weigel explained.
"That's the natural way of expanding," he said, adding that a new Sweetwater, Tenn., store slated to open later this year will be the company's most southerly location to date.
The Signal Mountain Road store in the Chattanooga market will face new competition from Murphy USA, which is building a new unit at a nearby Walmart. However, the Weigel's exec said there's competition everywhere.
"If we're not capable of competing, we wouldn't be there. We have to compete here. It's the same there," he said. What's different, Weigel added, is the company doesn't have a history in Chattanooga.