Repairs delay grocery store

Store has been vacant for more than five years

— Hangups in refurbishing refrigeration equipment have delayed reopening of the Food Depot grocery store, 310 S. Second Ave.

Owner Deep Bains said he’s been struggling to get repairs made to the refrigeration and freezing equipment, which has been idle since the downtown grocery store closed in 2007.

He had planned to open sometime in September, but said Monday he’s been having trouble getting a contractor in to replace Freon in the equipment.

Bains said he plans a traditional grocery store and will keep the Okanogan Food Depot name.

In August, he said he was considering different formats, including a traditional store and a “cash-and-carry” operation with bulk items.

An ethnic foods section and a Dollar Store also are possible within the 29,000-square-foot building, he said.

“We’re done with cleaning and we’re ready to go,” except for the equipment repairs, he said. “Then we can bring in the groceries.”

He has not discussed staffing levels.

The building has been empty since mid-2007, when then-owner Brown and Cole Stores called it quits. The Bellingham-based company, which owned and operated 28 stores across the state, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2006.

Brown and Cole said in 2005 that it would sell eight stores in areas that also had Walmart stores, but potential buyers were reluctant to move into markets close to Walmarts.

Bains said in August that the retail behemoth doesn’t bother him. He plans to offer prices on par with or lower that those offered by it and other groceries in the area, and also plans a gas rewards program in conjunction with his Flying B gas station, 2024 Elmway.

Okanogan County Assessor’s Office records show Guru Nanak Corp. of Okanogan purchased the downtown property from Ross Oil Co. for $750,000 on June 27.

In early 2008, the asking price for the 2.14-acre property and store was $2.75 million.

Okanogan has three convenience stores — all housed in gas stations — and one other grocery, Caso’s Country Foods at 2406 Elmway.

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