Family Dollar/Dollar Tree combo store to open in North Lawrence; new tunnel car wash slated for west Lawrence

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

A Family Dollar store in Eudora is pictured on Sept. 14, 2022. The chain has reached a deal to open a store in Lawrence.

Let’s do some news and notes from around town:

• My office vending machine is bigger than yours. At least I’m guessing that’s the case. I treat the Dollar General store in North Lawrence like my own personal vending machine, since it is just a block away from the Journal-World offices.

Apparently, word has gotten out in the dollar store world about that lucrative arrangement, because now plans are in the works for a combination Family Dollar/Dollar Tree store in North Lawrence. And this one will be even closer to my office. Work is underway to open the new Family Dollar/Dollar Tree in vacant space in the I-70 Business Center in North Lawrence. The store will be near the Department of Motor Vehicles’ driver’s license office, which also is a few doors down from the Journal-World’s offices. If you aren’t familiar with the I-70 Business Center, it is the former Tanger Factory Outlet Mall location that is across the street from the turnpike toll booths in North Lawrence.

(I would say the new store will be within walking distance of my office, but that is only true if management lets me borrow a shopping cart to transport my afternoon snacks.)

The Family Dollar will be the only Lawrence location for that chain. If you recall, Family Dollar previously had a location in The Malls Shopping Center at 23rd and Louisiana streets, but it closed several years ago. The closest Family Dollar location is one in Eudora. A manager of that store confirmed the opening of the new Lawrence location on her Facebook page by posting an advertisement for employees. Work also is underway at the site, with shelving and other fixtures being installed.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Vacant space under renovation in the I-70 Business Center is pictured on Sept. 14, 2022.

Lawrence does have a Dollar Tree, located at 27th and Iowa streets. Dollar Tree is the parent company of Family Dollar. Last year the company announced it would start opening combination Dollar Tree/Family Dollar stores, primarily in communities of 3,000 to 4,000 people. Obviously Lawrence is bigger than that, but the company may be viewing North Lawrence as a bit of its own community.

I haven’t had luck in getting a Family Dollar representative to comment on the planned North Lawrence store, but based on information on the company’s website, the combo stores focus on providing Family Dollar merchandise such as food, snacks, over-the-counter medicine, cleaning supplies and other household staples, while the Dollar Tree portion of the store has a big emphasis on seasonal items, crafting supplies and miscellaneous items that often are priced at a dollar.

No word yet on when the new store will open, but work is underway at the location.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Plans have been filed for a vacant lot next to the Casey’s convenience store at Bob Billings and the South Lawrence Trafficway to house a new tunnel car wash business.

• Look for another tunnel car wash to be built in Lawrence, this time in far west Lawrence. Plans have been filed for Elements Car Wash to locate on vacant land near Bob Billings Parkway and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

If you are familiar with the Casey’s location at Bob Billings Parkway and Langston Way, the car wash will be just north of that Casey’s convenience store. Elements is an emerging chain in the tunnel car wash business. The Lawrence location will be its fourth, with the chain getting its start in Georgia.

But Topeka resident Tim Younker is part of the ownership group and wanted the business to get into the Kansas market. He said the company evaluated sites in Lenexa, De Soto, Eudora and Lawrence before choosing the far west Lawrence location.

He said the company could envision many more homes developing around the Bob Billings interchange on the SLT, especially as the city moves ahead with plans to extend utilities over to the west side of the SLT. Such a utility expansion is expected to open up large amounts of acreage for new homes.

“We are early, but early in a good way,” Younker said of the Lawrence location.

As for the car wash, look for it to operate on a business model similar to Club Car Wash and Tommy’s Express Car Wash, the two largest currently operating in the city. That model includes the option for motorists to buy a single wash for the vehicle, but the companies really promote their membership plans, which allow people to get a certain number of washes — or an unlimited number — for a certain monthly fee. The location also will include a large number of vacuum bays.

The project does need to win one set of city approvals before it can proceed. The company has filed for a special use permit to place a car wash on the commercially zoned property. Assuming that approval, construction would begin between January and March, depending on the weather, and would finish about nine months later, Younker said.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

NextCare has taken over the former MedExpress location near Sixth and Kasold.

• There is a new name in the urgent care business in Lawrence, but not necessarily a new location. NextCare Urgent Care has taken over the location on West Sixth Street previously occupied by MedExpress.

The MedExpress signs came down at the building at 3420 W. Sixth St. — just east of Sixth and Kasold — a few weeks ago. My understanding, though, is the business really wasn’t closed for long. Rather, Tempe, Arizona-based NextCare took over the operations as part of a business deal. A staff member at the Lawrence location told me employees were allowed to stay on as part of the transition.

The urgent care center, which does everything from flu shots to fractures, is now part of one of the larger urgent care chains in the country. NextCare operates about 170 clinics in 12 states, according to information on its website.


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