Newport Avenue Market has acquired a small Sisters grocery and deli, its first attempt at a second location in more than 15 years.
As of Monday, Melvin’s Fir Street Market became Melvin’s by Newport Avenue Market. “We bought Melvin’s because it’s a profitable, successful business their staff takes pride in,” said Lauren Johnson, CEO of Newport Avenue Market. “We don’t want to screw that up.”
Melvin’s was started by Melvin Herburger, who worked at Ray’s Food Place in Sisters and previously owned The Harvest Basket. Herburger, 55, said he heard through a vendor that Newport Market was in the hunt for more locations, so he reached out to the company to see if they could strike a deal.
“I loved the store, and it was successful, but it was probably a good time to sell it because it was doing so well,” Herburger said. “It just felt like the right time. I wanted to move onto the next chapter in my life.”
Herburger, who managed the store at 160 S. Fir St. with his wife, Sandy, sold the business to Rudy’s Markets Inc., Newport Avenue Market’s parent company, for an undisclosed sum, Johnson said. Rudy Dory Family Properties bought the building for $895,000, Deschutes County records show.
Rudy Dory founded Newport Avenue Market, but the company has been employee-owned since 2015, when the family owners created an employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP. Johnson, who is Dory’s daughter, and her parents are now among 110 employee-owners working at the Bend store.
Central Oregon is a very competitive grocery market, but Newport Market continues to look for expansion opportunities in order to create value for the employees, Johnson said. The company does not have the buying power of Amazon, which now owns Whole Foods, or other big grocery chains, so Newport Market will continue to focus on customer service, she said. “The only reason people shop with us is we can offer a different experience and a better shopping experience with great customer service,” she said.
The Dory family had as many as nine grocery stores around Oregon in the 1970s, Johnson said, but has stuck with Newport Market on the west side of Bend since the early 2000s. Dory opened a store on Awbrey Butte in 2001 that closed six months later.
Herburger said he enjoyed running boutique groceries because he answered only to himself and his customers, and it was a good niche. “I feel like I’m in a different bracket,” he said. “I’ll let the big guys compete against themselves. I’ll just take my little slice of the pie.”
Melvin’s did not face much big-chain competition in Sisters, but Herburger said people who live in the small town do a lot of their shopping in Bend. He said he never felt the effect of new market entrants, including Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Market of Choice.
“My business never went backward,” Herburger said. “It was always gaining ground every single year.”
Melvin’s will continue to offer fresh produce, deli sandwiches, health food and specialty items, Johnson said. Melvin’s employs about 23 full-time and part-time employees, and the full-time employees will be eligible for health insurance and other benefits offered by Newport Market, she said. They’ll also become eligible for ESOP membership.
The small store, which has about 2,500 square feet of retail space, on Monday received new cash registers that tie into the company’s system, and it began taking special orders. Some of the top requests are for sushi, Oregon Country Beef and a bigger beer selection, Johnson said. The store’s new general manager is Wade Combs, a Sisters resident and longtime employee of Newport Market, she said.
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