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    Super-Sized Circle K May Start Maxi-Mart Era in Tucson

    QuikTrip to enter the market soon.

    TUSCON -- The c-store landscape here may be in for a big change, as Circle K builds a larger-than-usual store, according to a report in the Arizona Daily Star.

    Unlike its smaller predecessors, which tend to be about 2,600 square feet, the newest Tuscon Circle K is likely to be nearly 4,400 square feet, and offer a large number of gas pumps, according to a report in the newspaper.
    Circle K management did not comment. Industry watchers said it is likely Circle K is bracing for competition from Tulsa, Okla.-based QuikTrip Corp.

    "Competitors fear them," Greg Furrier, a principal with Picor Commercial Real Estate Services, told the newspaper.

    QuikTrip operates 5,000-square-foot shops with 18 to 24 gas pumps, and offer a large food selection, including egg rolls and breakfast sandwiches. The newspaper noted the c-store operator pays well, offers health benefits, a 401(k) match and profit sharing.

    Furrier has worked with QuikTrip to help the retailer find space in the Tucson market. QuikTrip has 63 locations in the Phoenix area.

    "People hear [QuikTrip is] going into the market, and they will sometimes go in and try to compete with them with sites, or bulk up with their existing locations," Furrier said.
    QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh told the newspaper the company "will start turning ground" on future Tucson sites this summer, but he wouldn't say where exactly.

    Thornbrugh wasn't surprised to hear that Circle K was building bigger and better versions, but he wasn't giving it much thought.

    "That's healthy for the marketplace, in our opinion," he said of the new Circle K sites. "Honestly, we are just going to concentrate on what QuikTrip does. We are concentrating on what we can do in our marketplace. We are going to have locations that in our opinion are going to be great. Nice stores. People will feel safe."

    Added Scott Testa, marketing professor at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia: "What's happening is these mini-marts or c-stores are starting to fill in those gaps that are left by those grocery stores that are also getting larger. It's the traditional-grocery-store concept that is actually getting larger, and the mini-marts are growing into that kind of void that is left by these supermarkets. It seems like everything is getting larger."

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