Iowa’s Kum & Go chain of stores is heading to the Boise, Idaho area

The typical Kum & Go convenience store has 5,600 square feet.  The Iowa-based company plans to open its first store in the Boise area in the second half of 2023.

The typical Kum & Go convenience store has 5,600 square feet. The Iowa-based company plans to open its first store in the Boise area in the second half of 2023.

Provided by Kum & Go

A popular shirt sold by a Des Moines, Iowa company exclaims “Greetings from the GREAT POTATO STATE!”

Except the state outline isn’t Idaho. It’s Ohio. And while within the borders it lists Boise and Nampa, it also shows Cincinnati and Columbus, as well as Des Moines and Davenport. the the shirt plays on confusion between people who confuse Idaho with Iowa and throw in Ohio for good measure.

That confusion could get worse next year after one of the nation’s largest convenience store chains, West Des Moines-based Kum & Go, enters the real potato state.

The company plans to open 20 to 25 stores in Boise and surrounding areas over the next five years, company spokeswoman Emily Hecker said via email. The opening of the first stores is scheduled for the second half of 2023.

When executives began considering expanding the business into new markets, they considered hundreds of cities across the country that they thought had potential.

“We started with about 380 markets across the United States, based primarily on demographics, and Boise has risen to the top in many key demographics,” said Niki Mason, senior vice president of Kum & Go. for store development, during a video. to call.

Kum & Go was listed as the 18th largest convenience store chain in the United States in 2021 with 408 stores, according to Convenience store News & Oila trade publication.

It’s bigger than all the chains here now, two of which are based in Treasure Valley. Among other chains with stores in the Valley, Salt Lake City’s Maverik Inc. was 22nd with 360 stores; Jacksons Food Stores, of Meridian, was 30th with 264 stores; and Stinker Stores, of Boise, was 66th with 109 stores.

The company started looking at Boise in late 2019 or early 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders were impressed with the Boise area’s strong growth, low crime rate, diverse economy and relatively affordable housing, Mason said.

“We’re based in Des Moines and it’s one of those hidden gems,” she said. “People will say they’ve never been there, but once there, they think it’s a great market. And I felt the same when I came to Boise. It really has a lot of great things to offer.

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Kum & Go offers, among other things, made-to-order sandwiches, bowls and smoothies. The chain, based in West Des Moines, Iowa, has 400 stores in 11 states. Provided by Kum & Go

Boise is one of three new markets Kum & Go is entering. Salt Lake City and Great Rapids, Michigan, are the others. Later this year, the company is expected to open its first stores in Utah, its first new state in 10 years.

“We’re definitely going to expand to Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Middleton, the greater Boise area,” she said.

The company already has purchase agreements for a handful of sites. The company is not ready to identify those sites as it struggles to develop construction plans and receive city approvals, Mason said. The typical Kum & Go store is 5,600 square feet, with some smaller stores at 4,000 square feet, she said.

The company sells all the basics found in a typical convenience store, including soft drinks and beer, chips, candies, health products and gasoline.

“We recently converted our food program to a healthier, fresh made-to-order food program which is a combination of smoothies, sandwiches, bowls which are cereal bowls with a variety of toppings,” she said. . “We have brisket bowls and chicken bowls where you add something like Fritos on top and get some crunch.”

The closest Kum & Go stores are in Wyoming, where the company has about 20 stores, and in Colorado, where there are more than 80, Mason said.

The history of Kum&Go

Kum & Go was founded in 1959 by William Krause and Tony Gentle. The name plays on the initials of their surnames. The business is run by Tanner Krause, the fourth generation of his family to run the operation. He took over as CEO in January 2021, replacing his father, Kyle Krause, who remains CEO of parent company, Krause Group.

The Krause Group has a large portfolio of business interests, including ownership of two wineries in Italy and two soccer teams, Des Moines Menace of lower-tier United Soccer League Two and Parma Calcio of Italy’s Serie A. .

Just last week, the USL awarded the Iowa capital a franchise for the USL Championship League, its highest tier. This is the same league that sought to award a franchise to Boise if a planned baseball-football stadium was built. The league includes the Portland Timbers 2, Reno 1868 FC, LA Galaxy 2 and New York Red Bulls II. The Des Moines club will be owned by Kyle Krause.

Former Idaho Statesman columnist Tim Woodward, who wrote a series of columns on the Idaho-Iowa confusion, once said that the two states were so different that it seems impossible to confuse them.

He noted that Idaho has the largest wilderness outside of Alaska and more than 150 peaks over 10,000 feet.

“Iowa is flat, a Midwestern prairie with abundant rainfall and cornfields that seem to stretch on forever,” he wrote. “Its culmination is Pork batch from Merrill Sterlerelevation 1,670 feet.

Even with Kum & Go entering the Gem State, there should be no problem distinguishing it from Iowa.

This story was originally published February 2, 2022 2 p.m.

Journalist John Sowell has worked for the Statesman since 2013, covering business and growth issues. He grew up in Emmett and graduated from the University of Oregon. If you enjoy seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.

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