East Tennessee convenience store chain Weigel's is to start work early next year on the first of about a half dozen planned locations in Chattanooga as the company enters the market.
After locating real estate over the past several years, the company is ready to build with the first store to go up at Highway 153 and Shallowford Road, said Chief Executive Bill Weigel.
The 9.3-acre parcel, on the former Mtn View @ 153 dealership tract, will include a store along with diesel pumps for trucks in the rear, he said.
The next store to follow will be at 5867 Highway 153 next to Academy Sports + Outdoors in Hixson, Weigel said, though that unit won't offer the truck service. The other stores in the Chattanooga area then will go up, he said.
"We'll build them consecutively, one after another," Weigel said.
The cost is about $3.4 million to $4 million per store, he said. The CEO of the Powell, Tennessee-based business said each unit is to employ up to 28 people.
According to Chattanooga permits, Weigel's also has a possible site at 4027 Hixson Pike, where it earlier demolished several buildings including a former Backyard Burgers location.
In addition, permits show a potential location at 5531 Highway 58 at Clark Road. Additionally, Weigel's has eyed possible locations at 5514 Brainerd Road near Spring Creek Road and 3107 Amnicola Highway, near the entrance to the Centre South Riverport.
Jon Hughes, the principal broker and owner of Tower Property Group who has been working with Weigel's, said the chain had to secure enough sites to move into the Chattanooga area.
He expected work to start at the Highway 153/Shallowford Road parcel in the first quarter of 2021.
"It will be their latest and greatest concept," Hughes said. "It will kick off their entry into the market."
Weigel said the first Chattanooga store will be about 5,900 square feet in size.
He said the company needed to expand outside of its Knoxville area home base.
The Weigel family entered the dairy business in 1931 with four cows. Primarily to provide an outlet for returnable gallon milk jugs and other dairy products, Weigel’s says it pioneered drive-through stores in East Tennessee. In 1958, the 500-square-foot “Store Number 1” opened in Knoxville. Walk-in stores didn’t appear until 1964, according to the company.
"We're full up here," Weigel said. "We have to go somewhere and we're going north and south of Knoxville."
In the Tri-Cities area, Weigel's has three stores, he said.
The coronavirus pandemic isn't impacting construction nor holding up the expansion, Weigel said.
"There are good times and bad times," he said. "We're moving forward."
Weigel's, which has about 70 stores in Tennessee, has its own dairy and bakery to supply its units, the company CEO said.
Weigel's is entering a competitive convenience store market. Walmart has added Murphy USA fuel stations at some of its Supercenters and next to its Neighborhood Markets in the Chattanooga area.
Also, Food City has aggressively placed its Gas 'N Go fuel centers next to a number of its stores.
Knoxville-based Pilot, along with major players Speedway and RaceTrac, also have entered the fuel fray in and around Chattanooga in recent years, joining existing companies such as Mapco, Circle K and others.
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