Posted 9:10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022
UWL’s Cassandra Berger visits 457 Kwik Trips in one year
Most New Year’s resolutions lack originality.
Eat better. Exercise more. Learn a new skill or hobby. All worthwhile goals, but not exactly breaking new ground.
Cassandra Berger took a different approach. Berger, the UW-La Crosse women’s lacrosse coach, vowed to visit every Kwik Trip in Wisconsin in 2021 — a journey that would cover more than 8,000 miles and 457 unique stores.
Unlike many people, Berger made good on her resolution, visiting the final location on her list, Kwik Trip No. 311 in Holmen, in mid-December.
“I’ve always been obsessed with Kwik Trip. Obsession is the right word,” jokes Berger, who developed an affection for the La Crosse-based convenience store chain while attending college in Iowa (The chain is called Kwik Star in the Hawkeye State.). Soon, she began making videos and social media posts about her love of Kwik Trip, gaining the company’s attention and earning her the moniker “KT Girl.”
“One day, Kwik Trip shared one of my videos, and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh. Maybe I’ll be able to get involved beyond just the videos I was doing on my own,’” she explains. “I met with their marketing team, and they came up with the idea of visiting all of the Kwik Trips in Wisconsin in one year.”
They didn’t need to ask twice.
An enthusiastic Berger got right to work in mid-January, hitting as many La Crosse-area locations as she could during one of her days off. Then something surprising happened: She hit a wall.
“That very first route around La Crosse, Onalaska and Holmen took much longer than I was expecting. I thought, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’” she recalls. “After that, I knew I had my work cut out for me, and I knew I had to be much more strategic. Once I had a plan in place, I knew I was going to be able to do it.”
During the work week, especially during lacrosse season in the spring, Berger remained focused on her coaching.
But whenever she had free time, she would jump into her car and follow a carefully planned route, chasing the next glazer, cheesy breadstick or carton of Nature’s Touch ice cream, and the simple satisfaction of crossing another location off her list.
Berger used an Excel spreadsheet to track her progress and took a Polaroid picture to remember each stop. She even chronicled her travels in a YouTube series, “KT Bound with Cassandra: A story of love, adventure and a regional gas station.”
None of the stops, she says, was a mere formality. During her visits, she made an effort to connect with customers and employees, and to recognize what makes each store unique.
“That’s why I did this — not only to showcase how much I love Kwik Trip, but to talk to people and hear their stories,” Berger notes. “My dream is to start a talk show or podcast where I talk to customers and employees about all things Kwik Trip.”
In 2021, if she wasn’t driving from one Kwik Trip to another, Berger was likely thinking about Kwik Trip. In May, she got her first tattoo, a “KT” on her left ring finger.
Though she was a paid influencer with Kwik Trip in 2021, Berger says her adoration of the company is authentic. It began several years ago, with pizza and cheesy breadsticks on Friday nights, and has only grown with time.
Shopping anywhere else, she says, almost feels wrong.
“I love that it’s a one-stop shop. I can go there for gas, for groceries — even Christmas gifts,” she says. “I can go on and on about the things I love about Kwik Trip.”
Photos by Tatum Miller Photography.