Longtime appliance store chain set to close local location; other updates on south Lawrence projects

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Factory Direct Appliance at 27th and Iowa is closing its Lawrence location by the end of April.

The thought of going directly to the factory to replace an appliance always appealed to me, especially when the nuclear reactor on my industrial-sized deep-fat fryer went out. That maybe isn’t an in-stock item at Lawrence’s Factory Direct Appliance store, but lots of kitchen and home appliances are. That’s soon changing. The store is closing its lone Lawrence location after about 20 years of business in the city.

Store manager Greg LaPlante told me the Lawrence store at 27th and Iowa streets would close for good at the end of April. The regional chain is choosing to emphasize its Topeka and Lenexa stores over its Lawrence location. The Topeka and Lenexa stores are both considered “destination stores,” meaning that in addition to carrying kitchen and home appliances, they also carry lighting and plumbing fixtures at the store. The larger stores become more of a one-stop shop for people building a home or doing a complete remodel.

“To turn the store in Lawrence into one of those was just going to be too costly,” LaPlante said.

LaPlante said he thought Factory Direct Appliance had been operating in Lawrence for 19 years. It once was located in the shopping center at Sixth and Wakarusa, but for the last 15 years or so has been in the south Iowa Street shopping center that includes Jane Bateman Interiors, Sherwin Williams paint store, and McAlister’s Deli.

Factory Direct Appliance will keep a small Lawrence presence under a different name. Several years ago, LaPlante said, Factory Direct Appliance was bought by Ferguson, which primarily is known as a plumbing supply store that serves plumbers, contractors and homebuilders. It has a Lawrence location at 1801 Bullene Ave. in eastern Lawrence. LaPlante said that Ferguson location would keep a select number of appliances in stock at its Lawrence warehouse. That will allow builders and plumbers a chance to buy those products, but the appliances won’t be marketed to the general public.

The move will leave a good sized vacancy in the shopping center at 27th and Iowa, which is otherwise pretty full. No word yet on whether a tenant has been found to move into the space.

LaPlante said the store would stay open no later than April 30, but could close earlier depending on how much merchandise was sold as part of its store closing sales.

In other news and notes from around town:

• While we are in south Lawrence, I might as well update you on a project that could make your pizza oven appliance obsolete. Work is well underway on a new Casey’s General Store, which sells everything from gasoline to pizzas.

If you have driven by the Target shopping center near 31st and Iowa, you may have noticed a new building under construction near the 31st Street entrance to Target. Signs aren’t up for that project, but it indeed is the new Casey’s General Store that we have reported was in the works.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

A Casey’s General Store is under construction at 31st and Nieder Road near the Target shopping center. The convenience store will be the biggest in south Lawrence upon its completion later this year.

As a reminder, the plans for the Casey’s location at 31st and Nieder Road call for 16 fueling stations and a 5,700 square-foot convenience store. Upon its opening it will be the first gas station south of 31st Street and will be the biggest gas station along the growing south Iowa Street corridor.

The city issued a building permit for $1.5 million worth of construction at the site in January. Crews have been busy since then as the building has started to take shape. Based on the progress to date, it seems likely a store opening will happen this summer. I have no official word from Iowa-based Casey’s, which generally hasn’t commented on its planned openings.

The Casey’s would be the latest entrant into the increasingly competitive Lawrence gasoline market, but probably not the last. I’m working on getting an update on QuikTrip’s plan to open a new store at Ninth and Iowa streets, where the Zarco Phillips 66 station previously operated. Those plans were filed back in January 2019, but building hasn’t yet begun. However, motorists have noticed recently that two old convenience store buildings on the site have been demolished.

That could be a sign that work is set to begin, but when I last checked the project was still awaiting some city approvals. I’ll let you know when I get an update on that front.

W 31st St & Nieder Rd, Lawrence, KS 66046

• Some of you also have been asking what is being built in the parking lot of the Planet Fitness shopping center at 25th and Iowa streets. It is a small corner pad site, which has lots of folks betting on which chicken or taco restaurant is coming to town.

As we reported in August, it will be a dental office. Pacific Dental, a kind of franchise company for dentists, received approval to build a 3,000 square-foot office on the site. Construction work began at the location in recent weeks. West Lawrence Dentistry near Sixth and Wakarusa, is part of the Pacific Dental Group, but no word yet on what brand name the new south Iowa location will have.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

A dental office is under construction in the corner section of the parking lot at 25th and Iowa streets, which serves the shopping center that houses Planet Fitness, the Trek bike store and other retailers.

Planet Fitness


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