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Customers Take Time to Explore Mitten’s Travel Center

Posted in: Truckstop Travels

Editor's note: Darren Schulte, NATSO vice president of membership, frequently visits NATSO members to review their locations and offers impactful merchandising and operations improvements. Contact Schulte at or (915) 526-5820 to learn more about the costs and details of this service.


Mitten’s Travel Center, an independent TA franchise location in Oakley, Kansas, is finding ways to make people wander, which is no small task when so many truckstop and travel plaza customers are rushing in to grab snacks, pick up essentials, visit the restroom and get back on the road. Customers may plan just to pop in for a minute, but they get drawn in once they stop.


The location is an oasis and is definitely set up for locals, business travelers, buses, professional drivers alike. They know they need to do things differently to be a destination location that brings customers back again and again. 

MittensArcade & MountedAnimalsDisplay.jpg

A wilderness theme abounds within Mitten’s with antler chandeliers and colors used throughout the store. Mitten’s has created the Western Kansas Wildlife Travel Center at the location, which utilizes upstairs space in the travel center to display hunting trophies. It reminds me of walking through a Cabela’s. 


The full-service location is exceptionally clean, has nice showers, offers a great shop and has delicious food in its restaurant. They have a Subway and a robust hot grab-and-go food program for those in a hurry. They are proving that a quick-service restaurant and full-service restaurant can co-exist because there are different types of customers that seek out each of the offerings. Those with a sweet tooth can take advantage of fresh Daylight Donuts or the saltwater taffy. 


Mitten’s Java Junction carries over the hunting atmosphere with the colors and theme. Mitten’s also does a good job with their messaging both inside and out. Signage on the outside clearly identifies the amenities the location offers of their store, creating focal points, which is particularly nice in a store as large as Mitten’s. 


Inside the store, they have angled their gondolas for nice sight lines. Their lighting is set in ways to highlight areas of their store, creating focal points, which is particularly nice in a store as large as Mitten’s. 



/// Did you know most weeks you can find me visiting a NATSO member truckstop location, spending three to four days, using my merchandising and operations expertise to help them grow their business? I periodically share about those great retailers I visit here on the blog. Read more Truckstop Travels here.   

Photo Credit: Darren Schulte/NATSO

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About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.