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Ribbit plans stores outside Wichita

Wednesday, March 31 2010 12:00 AM


The Wichita Eagle

Ribbit Computers is coming to north of 21st and Maize Road, as owner Alex Harb's plan to saturate Wichita with his computer sales and service stores nears completion.

But it's not the end of Ribbit's growth, Harb said, as he puts the finishing touches on a plan to bring his stores to smaller Kansas communities.

Ribbit will become the final piece in an 8,960-square-foot retail center at 26th North and Maize Road, home to Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Cinnamon's Deli and the first Long John Silver's on an end-cap of a retail center, developers said. Construction has not begun yet.

"I've been looking for a while around that area," Harb said. "I'd talked to several landlords and almost made a couple of deals, but I wasn't convinced 100 percent. I didn't have that 'feeling' about the locations I was looking at."

After a month's vacation, Harb spotted the Five Guys center.

"It just hit me right then," he said. "I choose my locations by following my feelings. If I have that 'feeling' then I know it will go well."

The 2,500-square-foot Ribbit will have nine employees — 6 PC technicians and three Apple technicians, the latter a growing segment of Ribbit's business.

"Apple has been rapidly improving its product," Harb said. "Used to be the cheapest computer they made was $1,500 to $1,600, but today you can get an entry-level Apple laptop for $800."

Landlord Central Park Place was represented in the lease deal by Brad Saville, president of Landmark Commercial Real Estate, and Christian Ablah of Classic Real Estate.

Ribbit was represented by Bradley Tidemann of J.P. Weigand & Sons.

Saville said the strip mall, which opened on Feb. 15, has been a success thus far, with restaurants ahead of projections.

The new store leaves Harb one short of his goal to saturate Wichita.

"I'm thinking that we'll look at the 47th and Broadway area, but before there we're going to start our Hutchinson project," he said.

Harb has targeted several Kansas cities at or near 20,000 population, including Hutchinson, Salina, Garden City and Dodge City.

"We want to get in all of them because we'll be able to provide them something they're missing," he said. "None of the bigger stores want to go there, but we will. We don't want to be Super Walmart. We just want to have our stores."

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