A Lep-Re-Kon Harvest Foods store plans to renovate and move into the vacant Shopko Hometown building on Wine Country Road in Prosser next year.
The 28,000-square-foot building will undergo an extensive renovation before it opens in 2020.
The store will include a staffed meat shop, full-service pharmacy, produce department, bakery and deli area, and a chilled beer cave. It’ll also add about 40 jobs to the economy.
Joe and Timo Montemayor own Lep-Re-Kon Marts Inc., which operates five other stores in Othello, Mattawa, Connell, Moses Lake and Zillah. Their sons also work for the company—Andrew as general manager and Michael as vice president. Between the five stores, they employ 170 people.
“We’re excited to be part of (the Prosser) community, and we’re looking forward to it, and getting in there as soon as possible,” Michael said.
Michael said in late October that planning is underway on how best to remodel the building, so a general contractor hasn’t been selected and opening date is not known.
Andrew said the addition of Prosser to the family’s portfolio of stores is a good fit. “We’ve always known Prosser. I grew up in Othello and traveled for sports. It’s a really, really good town and it’s a nice town and we saw an opportunity come up once the building was for sale to just go in and sell groceries,” Andrew said.
Another advantage is the future Prosser store’s proximity to the Othello home office and other stores, Michael said. “It’s local enough for us to be there in a moment’s notice,” he said.
Michael said his father started work at a Harvest Foods store in the early 1980s. “He worked hard and his way through all the departments and in 2003 he had an opportunity to purchase the business,” he said.
Joe started with three stores in Othello, Mattawa and Connell. The company built the Moses Lake store in 2007 and acquired the Zillah store in 2012.
The name Lep-Re-Kon came with the stores. The former owner held a contest in the ’70s to rename the store, and Lep-Re-Kon came out on top, paying homage to the owner’s last name, Lepper, according to Michael.
Michael said his family opted to keep the name. “We roll with it,” he said, explaining they often use a leprechaun in their logo and food ads.
They’re members of Harvest Foods Marketing LLC which allows smaller independently-owned stores to combine their buying power to be competitive, Michael said.
The addition of Harvest Foods means Prosser area residents will be able to choose from more than one grocery store. Prosser is also home to Food Depot at 1309 Meade Ave.
Deb Heintz, executive director of the Prosser Economic Development Association, said her group conducted a community survey four years ago and learned a lot about where people were buying their groceries and how much they were spending. The survey prompted the association to partner with URM Stores Inc., a grocery distributor, on a market analysis of the area.
“It determined two grocery stores could be located in Prosser in a community our size,” Heintz said. “Consequently that’s what came about with (Harvest Foods).”
The Prosser Hometown Shopko store, which opened in fall 2015, closed in May, along with hundreds of other stores in the nationwide chain, after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Heintz said she’s glad it soon will be filled with a grocery store.
Wes Hodges, a real estate agent and developer with Coldwell Banker Tomlinson Associated Brokers in Kennewick, welcomes the addition of Lep-Re-Kon. He owns a strip mall next door at 210 Chardonnay Ave. that’s home to Carniceria Los Toreros, and Alegria and Co. accounting firm. Hodges recently signed a lease with Cricket Wireless for a 1,200-square-foot office, the last vacant space in the building, which he built in 2009.
“Good things are coming to Prosser,” he said. “Prosser needed new retail shopping and stores to bring more people to the community.”
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