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Cedar Mill News
Volume 2, Issue 12


December 2004

Bales' grocery business sold

The story of the Bales/Findley family in Cedar Mill started on a strawberry farm. The future founder of our Thriftway store, Odus Bales, heard that there was a good strawberry patch out this way and came over to purchase berries for his St. John’s grocery. Lillian Findley, recently widowed with a teenage son, apparently impressed him with more than her strawberries, and before long they married.

Odus Bales eventually sold the St. John’s store and established a Thriftway in Cedar Mill. In the ‘60s a new building was constructed where Walgreen’s is now. The store moved into its current location in 1985.

Lillian’s son Ken Findley worked his way up in the business and eventually took over managing the store in the ‘90s before his stepfather died in 1998. But now he’s ready to turn his energies toward managing the family corporation’s property holdings and has sold the grocery business to Bob Miller and his family company. Miller is former president and CEO of Fred Meyer Corporation and former CEO of RiteAid, where he remains as chairman. His son Mark is Chairman of Signature Northwest, LLC, the corporation that now owns both the Cedar Mill store and the other Bales-owned Thriftway in Aloha, Bales Farmington.

“We had been approached a number of times over the years by big corporations who wanted the stores, but I wasn’t ready to get out of the grocery business. I love it, it’s been my life, but things have changed a lot and now it’s time. We are very comfortable with the new owners, they feel the way we do about the employees and the business,” says Findley. “Our priorities have always been ‘customers first, employees second’ and we are convinced that these priorities will be carried forward. We didn’t want to let down our employees or the community." Signature Northwest had already chosen Robin Thomas as the CEO, and we knew him and knew what kind of guy he was—that helped make up our minds.”

Thomas, who was the president of Unified Western Grocer’s Oregon division and formerly was a partner at Demeter Group, an investment bank specializing in the food and beverage industry, says the stores will retain the Bales name. “We’re honored to be involved with these employees,” he continues. “There are such great smiles and enthusiasm. We’re really proud to be part of the community and we’ll continue with the activities that the stores have been known for.”

“The culture of the stores is very healthy, and we value the relationships the stores have with suppliers,” says Thomas. He promises that they will continue to offer fresh local seafood and produce items and also to showcase locally-made specialty foods. A major remodel is planned for the Cedar Mill store sometime in 2005.

Ken Findley’s not retiring, though. The family owns commercial property around the Farmington store as well as in Cedar Mill. “We’re starting a 15,000 square foot building adjacent to the Farmington store,” he says.

The story of the Bales/Findley family involvement in the community continues. “In the next few years we’ll be redeveloping the shopping center at the northeast corner of Saltzman and Murray,” Findley says. “We’re still working to extend Barnes Road to the north past the parking lot. (Negotiations are ongoing with Shell to reconfigure their station to allow for this extension.) And we need a stop signal for the library.” Nope, he’s not retired!



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The Cedar Mill News
Published monthly by the Cedar Mill Business Association, Inc.,
P.O. Box 91177
Portland, OR 97291-0177

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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
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