Spokane Journal of Business

Yoke’s Foods to close store at River Ridge

Employee-owned chain acquired small grocery outlet there 16 years ago

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Spokane-based Yokes Foods Inc., which operates a chain of 13 Yokes Fresh Market stores in the Inland Northwest, says it plans to close an outlet in northwest Spokane that it has operated for 16 years.

The 30,000-square-foot store is located at 4507 W. Wellesley, and is the anchor tenant in the 46,000-square-foot River Ridge Center, at the southwest corner of Wellesley Avenue and Assembly Street.

John Bole, Yokes president and CEO, says the company expects to close the store in about a month. It had employed about 30 people, but most of the employees who were interested in transferring to other Yokes outlets already have done so, and the store now is operating with a skeleton crew while it liquidates its remaining inventory, he says.

Bole says the store hasnt been profitable for years, and its lease was about to expire, so the company decided to close it. The company looked at remodeling the store and trying some different concept to boost revenues there, but, Every time we ran the numbers, it just didnt add up, he says.

The River Ridge store is the only one in the Yokes chain that isnt relatively new or recently remodeled, Bole says. The company announced a major remodeling and growth campaign in 2001, and since then has opened three new stores, all in the Tri-Cities. Bole says Yokes is working on plans to open additional stores, but declines to say what areas its considering for new stores or when those stores might open.

The chain currently operates seven stores in the Spokane area, three in the Tri-Cities, and one each in Deer Park, Sandpoint, and Kellogg. One of its other Spokane-area stores is located in the Indian Trail Shopping Center, less than two miles from the River Ridge store, which Bole says also was a factor in the decision to close that outlet. Overall, Yokes employs about 1,050 people, he says.

A Seattle-based employee of the company that manages River Ridge Center says a new tenant has been secured for the space that Yokes plans to vacate, but referred questions about that tenant to a real estate agent here who couldnt be reached for comment. Along with Yokes, tenants at the retail center include a pizza restaurant and lounge, a day-care and pre-school learning center, and a hair salon.

Before Yokes acquired the grocery store there, it was known as River Ridge Food & Drug and earlier had been part of the Spokane-based Rosauers Supermarkets Inc. chain.

Marshall and Harriett Yoke founded the grocery-store enterprise in 1946, when they opened a 2,500-square-foot store here. Their son, Chuck Yoke, then guided the business through an expansion in the latter half of the last century.

Contact Kim Crompton at (509) 344-1263 or via e-mail at kimc@spokanejournal.com.

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