The sight of two QuickChek gas station/convenience stores across the street from one another at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Sawkill Road in the Town of Ulster may have some local residents recalling jokes about the proliferation of Starbucks Coffee franchises, but there’s a method to this particular madness: QuickChek was so popular it needed to expand.
The smaller QuickChek, which opened five years ago at 630 Washington Ave., has always felt a little cramped, said Ulster Town Supervisor James E. Quigley III.
“I can tell you from personal experience,” Quigley said. “I’ve driven past there to get something and I just drove away because there was no parking and the lines to get gas were too long. It was very clear that the current store that they have, they were overwhelmed by the amount of business that was done.”
It’s something executives at QuickChek’s Whitehouse Station, N.J. headquarters knew about even before that store opened its doors on the site of a former Citgo station.
“We knew when we bought the dirt, actually,” said QuickChek Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Schaninger. “When we first bought the site, we knew it was undersized. But we also knew there was a need in the market based on the HudsonValley response to our stores.”
Rather than wait for something else to open up, QuickChek officials signed a lease and reconfigured the existing gas station and convenience store to get it as close to the mark as possible. That was a departure from the company’s usual method.
“We never do that,” said Schaninger. “We always build from the ground up so we can get our prototype in the proper two- to three-acre piece of dirt. We quickly maxed out how many customers we could serve and how many cars we could fuel. We couldn’t properly service our customers, and we weren’t able to provide the true QuickChek experience.”
The hope, Schaninger added was that they would one day be able to purchase the Fill ‘n’ Shop Mobil property across the street from owner Cheryl Scott.
“We’d been negotiating since before we opened the first store,” Schaninger said. “In 2012 it happened.”
With the new station, QuickChek further dominates an Uptown Kingston/Thruway Exit 19 gas market it took hold of when Cheryl Scott’s Mobil station sold out. Its nearest competitors are the Stewart’s on Lucas Avenue and the Sunoco on Broadway, both several minutes’ drive away from the traffic circle area. QuickChek itself has two other stores in the greater Kingston metroplex; one on Route 9W just north of Adams Fairacre Farms and the other on Ulster Avenue near the McDonald’s.
Double the pumps
The move allows QuickChek to maintain its prime location just off Exit 19, but it also allows them to do so with their best foot forward.
“We’ll be up to 24 fueling stations [from 12], so that will help a lot,” said Schaninger. “And then we’ll have our prototype store, and we’ll be able to offer everything that we traditionally do.”
Though it already appears as though the new QuickChek is ready for business, Schaninger said work on the interior of the building is still ongoing. A ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring the first cup of coffee is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 26; the following morning, the store will open for regular business at 5 a.m. with a series of promotions, including free coffee and free fountain drinks for kids under 5 feet tall.
The new store comes in at 6,584 square feet, over twice the size of the current store’s 2,870. Parking should also be less cramped, with 70 spaces planned for the new building compared to just 19 at the present spot. Schaninger said the new store will move its existing employees — including store leader Joe Short — across the street, and will also hire additional staff to meet the demands of the larger space.
“We’re going to be adding additional team members, which is a plus as we always hire local,” Schaninger said.
Quigley said the move shows QuickChek, which is privately owned by the New Jersey-based Durling family, is committed to the area.
“Absolutely, they are making a very large investment in the community,” Quigley said, noting that QuickChek had used over 27,000 cubic yards of fill on the new property to ensure the facility was above the flood plain. “27,000 yards of fill is a lot of money. This is a smart business decision of expanding capacity in a clear situation where the existing facilities were insufficient to meet the market demands.”
What about the old one?
While QuickChek continues looking for another business to pick up their lease at 630 Washington, they will continue paying rent to an investment group in New Jersey. The expectation, Quigley said, is that another gas station is unlikely for the space.
“[QuickChek] will take down the canopy, they will remove the pumps and they will remove the gas tanks for the specific purpose of changing permanently the use of that site from a gas station,” Quigley said. “They do not necessarily want another operator coming in there right on top of them.”
Schaninger said the new building should give customers the full QuickChek experience, with an expanded fountain bar, a full coffee bar, a larger soup bar and the first Q Café in the state. There will also be smoothies and blended drinks, as well as indoor and outdoor seating.