Biz Buzz Tuesday: Convenience store gets face-lift; auto business expands; Dubuque children’s retailer to close

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from the tri-states. This week highlights developments in Dubuque and Cuba City, Wis.

Crews are nearing completion of a $1 million renovation to a longtime convenience store and gas station in Dubuque.

Lori Thielen, vice president of finance for Rainbo Oil, said improvements to Family Mart, located at 3201 Central Ave., should be completed in mid-February, marking the end of a multi-faceted project that commenced in September.

Once renovations are completed, the convenience store will offer a new beer cave and an expanded selection of fresh food. In conjunction with these changes, Rainbo Oil plans to take fresh products made at 3201 Central and sell them in other convenience stores under the “Family Mart” brand.

Thielen emphasized that the upgrades also will bring a refreshed look to an older, well-established property.

“Everything from floor to ceiling is being redone and will be brand new,” she emphasized. “It will be 40 to 50 years newer on the inside, so it will definitely be a noticeable change.”

Thielen said the store has had a presence on the corner of Central Avenue and West 32nd Street for decades. Understanding its historical roots, Rainbo Oil maintained the “Family Mart” name after acquiring the property. Thielen said the store will be branded as “Family Mart by Kwik Stop” once renovations are completed.

Upgrades started back in September, when workers began improving the underground tanks and dispensers for fuel and diesel. That portion of the project was completed in late October.

Crews have since shifted their focus to the convenience mart. Work on the building forced Family Mart to temporarily close its doors, but the shop reopened on Jan. 16.

“We have been moving back and forth within the building, from one side to the other, to make sure we can stay open while the renovations are going,” said Thielen.

Family Mart can be reached at 563-588-4331.

AUTO BUSINESS EXPANDS

A growing southwest Wisconsin automotive business will soon make a short move in hopes of continuing its recent growth.

Quality Motors, currently located in Benton, Wis., will open at a new location in Cuba City on Monday, according to owner Rich Oglesby. The business services cars and also sells a variety of used vehicles.

Oglesby said he opened the business in the summer of 2012 and it has continued to operate out of its Benton location ever since. Friday will mark the final day of operations in that facility.

The recent trajectory of the business convinced Oglesby that a move was necessary.

“We kind of outgrew this location (in Benton),” he said. “In the new location, the shop will be about three times the size of the current one, and we’ll have more space for parking.”

Quality Motors will occupy the former Runde Auto building, located at 2496 Highway 80 in Cuba City.

The expanded footprint will also provide additional room for selling used cars, Oglesby noted.

The business currently has just one employee in addition to Oglesby. The upcoming move will allow him to add “at least” three people.

On top of that, Oglesby noted that his wife, Lori, will be coming back to work at the family business.

While the new location will mark a fresh start for Quality Motors, the move will also represent a homecoming of sorts for its owner.

“I am from Cuba City, and I live here now,” Oglesby said. “Other than the four years of my life I spent in the Marine Corps, I have spent my entire life here.”

Oglesby said Quality Motors will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday. It can be reached at the new location by calling 608-744-3330.

RETAILER TO CLOSE

A children’s apparel retailer soon will close its doors in Dubuque.

Staff members at Carter’s, 2445 Northwest Arterial, recently began informing customers that the store would close in March. That timeline later was confirmed by Cafaro Co. spokesman Joe Bell.

Cafaro Co. owns the majority of Asbury Plaza, the strip mall on the West End of Dubuque that has been home to a Carter’s location since late 2015. Bell acknowledged that the departure of the store would be a tough pill to swallow for local residents.

“It is a well-known brand for children’s and babies’ clothing,” Bell said. “Obviously, there is a need for that in every market.”

An employee at the Dubuque Carter’s acknowledged the impending closure but declined to speak on the record about the circumstances, instead passing along the number of the store’s district manager. Calls placed to that individual were not returned.

Carter’s currently operates about 850 stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. In October, company officials announced plans to close 25% of its brick-and-mortar stores in the next two years.

Bell said the closure of the Dubuque store is part of this broader trend.

“Carter’s is terminating leases as they come up for renewal,” he said. “They exercised their right not to renew their lease.”

Given the strong demand for children’s apparel, Bell predicted that the departure of Carter’s could open the door for another entity to enter the Dubuque market.

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