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Yoke's purchases Trading Company stores

Cheney Free Press of Cheney, Washington

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No interruption in service anticipated with change over complete by September

After months of rumors, the sale of the Trading Company stores to Yoke's Fresh Markets was announced July 11 in a press release.

The four-store acquisition includes stores in Cheney, Latah Creek, Spokane Valley and Post Falls. Trading Company is operated under Bonner Foods, Inc.

Yoke's will officially take over ownership Sunday, Sept. 11. "No changes until then and we will not close the store," spokesman Jon Orton wrote in an email.

"We're working very closely with Yoke's to make this thing (is) as smooth and seamless as possible," Trading Company co-founder John Matejovski said.

While Matejovski said he could not speak for Yoke's, "1 don't think there will be any interruption," he said. The Cheney store employs about 50 people.

According to their news release, Trading Company employees will have an opportunity to apply for positions with Yoke's. The first of two career events this summer was held July 13. A company meeting was held Tuesday, July 12 to discuss the sale.

"They approached us. A process like this is a fairly major transaction, it just takes a lot of time," Matejovski said. "This was just a simple fact that Yoke's approached us, they have an interest in growing."

Matejovski said it was the right time for he and partner Gary Morgan to sell.

"Gary and I are well into our 60s so common sense might say we have an interest in retiring and they have an interest in acquiring and the two fit together very well," Matejovski said.

Another factor in the acquisition was geography.

"Yoke's is probably the only retailer in this region that doesn't have a store in close proximity to any of our four stores," Matejovski said. "So it was a very good fit for them."

Matejovski and Morgan founded the company in 1994 in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. They expanded from a small store along U.S. Highway 95 that employed 15 people, building a bigger store later in Bonners Ferry.

They later sold that location to Safeway and acquired three stores from the former Tidyman's chain in 2006. The Cheney store, which began its life as Ranch Markets and then became Excell Foods, was also part of the 2006 expansion.

"We acquired the Cheney store when Terry Sparrow retired and now Yoke's is going to acquire it when we retire," Matejovski said.

As retirement approaches, Matejovski said, "I'm just going to keep my options open." He indicated he may dabble in the grocery business for a little longer. "But if not, I'm content to go fishing," he added.

"Yoke's has been proud to call the Inland Northwest home since 1946," John Bole, president and CEO of Yoke's said in the release. "We look forward to bringing Yoke's unique offerings to the communities served by the Trading Company stores."

Headquartered in Spokane Valley, Yoke's Foods, Inc. is an employee-owned company with locations in North Idaho, Eastern, and Central Washington. Once acquired, the Trading Company locations will bring Yoke's total number of stores to 17.

Most recently, Yoke's purchased the Haggen Foods (a former Safeway store) in Liberty Lake, Wash, after that company went through bankruptcy.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

"Yoke's has been proud to call the Inland Northwest home since 1946. We look forward to bringing Yoke's unique offerings to the communities served by the Trading Company stores."

Yoke's CEO John Bole



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Original Publication Date: July 14, 2016



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