I have not moved on yet.
I have this weird, false hope that a Quik Trip store will reappear and reopen along the new path I take to and from work.
Maybe it’s because I miss the frozen slushies that cooled the most miserably hot summer evenings.
Or maybe it’s because I miss the habitual morning glazed doughnut and coffee that gave me boosts of energy, for better or worse.
Or the $2 hot dog and fountain soda lunch. Add some melted cheese and chili on those wild, winter days.
Man. I sure miss my old Quik Trip store in Belleville.
All convenience stores are the same, right? Gas. Beer. Bread. Milk. Ice cream, Aspirin. Often over-priced, but always available.
My old friend QT was always there when I needed it.
It was always there when I didn’t need it, too.
Yep. That old QT store on Centreville Avenue in southwest Belleville was a big part of my life for more than a dozen years. It was less than a mile from my home. My two kids grew up with QT. Snacks. Drinks. Batteries. Lotto tickets. Beef jerky. Rarely a day passed when I did not say: “Goin’ to QT. Anybody need anything?”
I figured when the two QT stores in town were sold last winter to Circle K, I would adjust and move forward. Stores close and change all the time. You find a new store and a favorite gas station. Carry on. Simple. More important things in life, right?
I thought so. I’ve moved on from the loss of the Rams, Sports Authority, David Backes and Brian Elliott. But just give me back my QT.
It was routine that I stopped at QT on weekday mornings. Grabbed a medium coffee and a fresh doughnut on good days. Whew. I miss those fresh doughnuts. Especially the glazed ones that pulled apart in bite-sized balls. The apple fritters were good, too. But they were like eating a brick disguised as a doughnut. A sweet brick, though. I saved them for weekends.
Every morning, I talked to a few friends, neighbors at QT. I felt safe. A policeman or two were always in the store or parking lot.
If I had a dollar for every frozen slushie drink I bought at QT over the years, I could have bought my own convenience store. I liked mixing up the frozen flavors in the same plastic cup. The blue with the red with the brown cola. I was crazy that way.
QT carried the mini cartons of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. A pint of Cherry Garcia got me through many weekends.
I felt like I knew the employees at my old QT. Rich met me most mornings with a smile. I always knew when there were new employees. Some days, I stopped in QT three or four times. Bread. Milk. Gas. Lottery tickets. Ice cream. QT had everything I couldn’t remember to pick up in one trip.
Question: What’s the perfect holiday gift for a guy like me?
OK. Besides underwear, white undershirts, and matching dress socks.
Answer: The QT gift card.
This is nothing against the Circle K stores that replaced the QT stores. I’m glad they’re here. The hot dogs are pretty good, too. But they’re not my QT.
In hindsight, I’ve always had that small “go to” local store in my life. That one little store close to home where I knew I could get milk, bread, beer, aspirin at any time of day or night.
When I was kid, we called them confectioneries. They were locally owned, and about the size of a kitchen pantry nowadays. Growing up in East St. Louis, there was Glaubers on Church Lane near my old grade school. There was Tipton’s and Newton’s on Mary Belle Avenue. In high school, there was the old Canterbury on West Main Street which is now a tanning salon.
My “go to” stores.
Occasionally, when I am in St. Louis, I’ll drive by a QT. Those lucky Missourians still have their QTs. But I haven’t gone inside one yet.
The smell of those tasty jalapeno wieners toasting on the rolling grill.
The back row of frozen slushie machines.
The case of fresh doughnuts and muffins.
I just can’t do it. Yet.
Damn. I miss that old QT store. Still.