OKLAHOMA CITY — Chet Cadieux said all QuikTrip stores have heavy security and surveillance systems. The same goes for the QuikTrip store in Ferguson, Missouri, that was destroyed during the ongoing unrest.
“The people who are causing trouble aren’t even from Ferguson,” the company CEO said. “They’re opportunistic people coming into the area for looting.”
Cadieux, one of the key speakers at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ Oklahoma Idea Exchange event held Tuesday at the Skirvin Hilton in Oklahoma City, said the company hadn’t yet had a chance to decide whether the Ferguson QuikTrip would be rebuilt. But he said the unrest had been the first trouble the company experienced at that store since it was built in 1989.
“Ferguson is a good, affluent area,” he said. “It’s just that you get to a point that there’s a deep sense of social outrage, and what happened in Ferguson could happen anywhere.”
During the talk, Cadieux said widely held misconceptions have surfaced about why the chain doesn’t have stores in Oklahoma City, the nearest metro area to its home base in Tulsa. He said QuikTrip doesn’t have any agreements or contracts with anyone.
“When we were founded in 1958, there were just 300 convenience stores in the United States,” Cadieux said. “It just so happened that a few of those 300 were in Oklahoma City.”
He said Bill Brown, owner of the Oklahoma City 7-11 locations that are still owned by Brown’s family, gave the Cadieuxes valuable business advice during QuikTrip’s early years.
“If it wasn’t for Brown, we wouldn’t be in business,” he said. “As long as Brown’s family owns those stores, it would be unconscionable to open there.”
Cadieux said he’s noticed the growing number of vehicles running on compressed natural gas, or CNG, and thinks the new fuel holds promise. However, the company has no immediate plans to start selling it.
“It doesn’t make economic sense to sell it,” he said. “The tipping point will be when the auto manufacturers offer that option for vehicles at a reasonable price.”
Also during the event, Elliot Nelson, owner and operator of McNellie’s Public House and 15 restaurants and bars in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, said his company is currently constructing a new Dust Bowl bowling alley in Oklahoma City’s midtown area and wants to develop an additional McNellie’s in west Oklahoma City.
Nelson said his company isn’t developing in Oklahoma City’s popular Bricktown area because he wants to help re-establish less popular neighborhoods, and he’s currently bullish on midtown Oklahoma City.
“We base our locations on where we feel we can have the biggest impact on a neighborhood,” he said. “Bricktown was already established.”
Nelson is also looking at three or four other metropolitan markets outside of Oklahoma for future bars and restaurants.
Bill Warren, founder of Wichita, Kansas-based Warren Theaters, is currently building a $45 million, 18-screen theater in Broken Arrow. He said theaters are now competing with other forms of entertainment, and his secret to keeping customers coming is premium services such as upscale food and bar services and luxury design.
“It’s probably because we spend twice as much money as everyone else,” he said.