By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Three convenience stores in Liberal sold a total of more than $1.5 million in ticket sales for the Kansas Lottery last year, and Wednesday, officials from that state department were in town to share some awards for those stores.
Both of Hutch’s stores in Liberal – one at 1580 N. Kansas and the other at 850 S. Kansas – as well as the Express Lane at 1421 N. Western made the Kansas Lottery’s Directors Club for their sales of tickets.
Kansas Lottery Executive Director Ed Van Petten said the state is divided into two regions, east and west, and the Directors Club has several categories for awards.
“We have convenience stores, grocery stores, social environments – restaurants and bars, and miscellaneous – smoke shops, liquor stores,” he said. “The top two retailers in each region in each of those sections makes the Directors Club.”
Each of the state’s regions are then divided into districts, each with a manager. Van Petten said if a district does not have a winner in one of the categories, the top retailer in that district is awarded the Directors Club. He said this is not a problem in Southwest Kansas.
“This area has such good sales that we don’t have to fall back on that,” he said. “In fact, we’ve been to Elkhart in this district. We have three stores here in Liberal and one in Garden City that have made great sales in their business category.”
This is Van Petten’s 11th year as director of the Kansas Lottery, and the Directors Club had been in place prior to that. He did say, however, the award has been changed in his time with the department.
“Before my time, it was just the top 10 retailers in the state,” he said. “It was confined strictly to Topeka and Wichita because of that. We felt we wanted to get out more in the state and recognize the hard work of our people more in the rural areas. That’s why we set it up the way it is now.”
Van Petten said getting into the club is based on a store’s gross sales of lotto tickets, and he said most club members sell around a half million dollars a year.
“We do have one store in Wichita that sells around $2 million a year,” he said. “That’s our top retailer in the state.”
Van Petten said retailers get a benefit from selling the tickets, including a 5 percent commission, as well as a 1 percent commission for cashing, and he said most store managers like the fact that the product does not have to be monitored.
“It doesn’t expire unless the game’s canceled of course, but it’s a low overhead game and the retailers don’t have to pay for it until after it’s sold normally,” he said. “We hope it’s a good economic development impact for the retailers in the areas where we go.”
Tammy King, manager of the Hutch’s C Store on North Kansas, said being a part of the club is significant for her business.
“It means we’ve done a really good job on promoting the Kansas Lottery,” she said. “My team has done an excellent job. We’ve had some promotions in the past. We brought our sales up from 2009 to 2010 to be able to be in the Directors Club.”