Grocery to become “Walterville Market”
WALTERVILLE: “This was an 11th hour save for our store,” according to Jerry Swartz, commenting on new ownership for the 13,000 square foot grocery in the Walterville Shopping Center. Only a month ago, the Brookings based C&K Market chain had announced plans to lock the doors to the store on September 8th, saying it wasn’t profitable. That deadline has passed without a shutdown, thanks to brothers Don and Lai Sidhu, who arranged to take over on September 23rd.
The two have classic entrepreneurial backgrounds. Lai started out clerking at convenience stores in California prior to moving to Oregon, where he worked at Circle-K’s and 7-Elevens. Don had similar jobs as well as working in gas stations and driving cabs. Their first start up was an ice cream business in Salem, selling from neighborhood trucks. After four years they’d saved enough to buy the Oak Market in Silverton in 1998.
Since that time the brothers have developed a business model called U.S. Market that has stores in places like Salem, Eugene, Woodburn, Bend, Waldport, Newport, Mount Angel, Lebanon, Albany, and Lincoln City. Not all U.S. Markets in Oregon are owned by the Sidhus. Some are headed up by friends or relatives, helping them join the ranks of convenience store owners. Under the U.S. Market business model, proprietors don’t operate franchises. They cooperate under a group umbrella that sees them getting price breaks from vendors by ordering in bulk to keep their prices down.
“We’re not coming in as a big chain to change everything around just because that’s the way they run their business,” says Don, who bought the Walterville store. “We want to work with the community. That’s the key to success.”
Part of that plan addresses one of the most often heard community concerns after a closure was first announced – “What’s going to happen to the employees?’ Don says, “My goal is to keep them all in place.”
Will the store be a U.S. Market? No, in keeping with the idea of working with the community, Don said he decided to take on its name, calling it the “Walterville Market.”
Jeff Christian, who owns the property with his wife Donna, is pleased with the way things have played out. “I’m really impressed with them,” Jeff said. “We checked them out, talking with a number of vendors who said they have an excellent reputation. This is going to be good for our community.”
Jerry Swartz agrees. “Now if everybody supports us, we’ll be here for a long time. I want to thank everybody for their help.”
Image above: New store owner Don Sidhu (left), employees Judy Gammie and Jerry Swartz are all happy for an “11th hour save” that kept the doors open beyond a planned September 8th closure date for the C&K Market.
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