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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of May 28 - June 3, 2003


Atkinsons’ set to purchase Valley Market

Express Staff Writer

Atkinsons’ Market, the Wood River Valley-based grocery-store company, has entered a deal to buy Valley Market in Bellevue.

Chip Atkinson, president of Atkinsons’, said company officials plan to close the deal by the end of the week, and will take over the business immediately.

Atkinson did not disclose the terms of the purchase agreement but noted that the deal includes the Valley Market business, its approximately 26,000-square-foot store and the approximately four-acre parcel along Highway 75 on which the business is located.

"We’re really excited by this," he said. "We hope the public will be excited as well."

Atkinson said the new owners intend to maintain the store’s management and staff, and will not immediately implement any major changes to the store.

"We’re not going to do the ‘go in, close it, remodel and reopen,’" he said.

Owned by Vern Howard of Friday Harbor, Wash., Valley Market is Bellevue’s largest grocery store.

Speculation has abounded in recent months that the property was for sale, possibly to the Zatica family of Homedale, owners of the Paul’s supermarket chain. Paul’s closed the doors of its downtown Hailey store last month after the building was sold to a local investment group for redevelopment as a shopping center.

The new store in Bellevue will give Atkinsons’ a profound presence in the Wood River Valley’s three primary commercial centers. The company already operates stores in Ketchum and Hailey.

Atkinson said his company was not actively seeking to buy Valley Market, but pursued the deal after hearing that it was for sale.

Atkinson noted that the "Valley Market" name will be an "integral part" of the market’s new name.

However, he said, the new owners will conduct an approximately three-month "assessment period" to get public input from customers before making any substantial changes. "We plan on making the transition as smooth as possible," he said. "We are fortunate to have the support of a very experienced staff, many of whom have been with us for 15 years.

"We look forward to combining our expertise with that of the dedicated employees of Valley Market. Having the three stores will also gain us the economies of scale."

Atkinson stressed that the new store will not be remodeled directly after either of the existing stores but will be tailored to the residents of Bellevue and southern Blaine County.

"The Ketchum store really reflects Ketchum. Hailey really reflects Hailey," he said. "What we want is something that reflects Bellevue."

Company officials last Thursday announced that planned changes for the new market will include upgrades to equipment and lighting.

In addition, Atkinsons’ will possibly establish a full-service meat department and full-service deli, Atkinson said.

Many product brands carried by Valley Market—such as "Western Family"—will continue to be offered by the new ownership, company officials said. First Bank of Idaho, a tenant in the Valley Market building, will remain as a long term tenant, they noted.

Atkinson said his company—which was started in 1956—foresees no specific problems in expanding its operations. "This isn’t growth for growth’s sake," he said. "We want to enhance our service to our customers … We think we do a decent job and want to continue."



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