At a recent WBJ Emerging Leaders forum, the topic of a downtown grocery store was brought up.
It’s not a new topic, of course, but as apartment dwellings in Wichita’s core continue to be erected and renovated, it’s likely that more people will be living downtown.
With more people living downtown, more people will likely join the chorus of downtown residents that would like to see a grocery store. According to the Downtown Development Corp., somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,100 people currently live in downtown Wichita.
As developers have pointed out in the past, that number would probably have to grow substantially for the area to be able to support a full-service grocery store. One concept that was brought up at the recent forum was that of Trader Joe’s, a popular niche grocery chain with smaller stores.
Right now, Trader Joe’s has the Wichita market surrounded — literally — with stores in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Okla., the Denver area and the Kansas City area. Not to mention the cities of Lincoln and Omaha in Nebraska.
I thought I’d reach out to the Trader Joe’s folks to see if the Wichita market might be in their future plans. Here’s the response I got from company spokeswoman Kenya Friend-Daniel last week:
“I have no knowledge of a Trader Joe’s store coming to Wichita in the next two years,” she told me in an email. “As for would a (Trader Joe’s) location ever come to the area — yes, it is possible. We are always exploring new locations that we feel could/would be a great fit, so there’s always a possibility.”
There you have it — it’s a possibility. Of course, it’s also possible that Wichita State brings back football and Amazon decides out of the blue that Wichita is a fine place for its coveted second headquarters.
Like everything else, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.