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Business roundup: Marshalls headed to Wenatchee Valley Mall

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National off-price retailer Marshalls will move into a new expanded space at Wenatchee Valley Mall by early summer 2014.

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East Wenatchee

Marshalls headed to Wenatchee Valley Mall

The game of guessing which big retailer — T.J. Maxx? Kohl’s? Victoria’s Secret? — arrives next at Wenatchee Valley Mall has ended. Marshalls is on the way.

The national off-price department store with more than 750 locations in 42 states will open its 15th store in Washington in a 23,400-square-foot space now under construction between Macy’s and Food Pavilion. Tentative opening date is early summer 2014.

This is a big deal for local shoppers who love good prices on great items,” said Becky Sager, general manager of the mall in East Wenatchee. “We’re excited to have them here.”

The mall’s owner, Los Angeles-based Vintage Real Estate, is doubling the space once occupied by four smaller stores, including former outlets for Verizon, UPS and Sally’s Beauty Supply. Construction on the expansion will be completed in a couple of months, said Sager, then Marshalls will step in and spiff-up the interior to their corporate specifications.

Marshalls and its sister company T.J. Maxx stock clothing and home decor items that they sell at reduced prices. Their website says prices are kept low by “taking advantage of department stores overbuying, cancelling orders and designers overproducing.” Discounts can hit 60 percent on some items, says the site.

The addition of Marshalls is part of a continuing overhaul of tenant mix at the mall.

By summer 2014, Sportsman’s Warehouse will fill the 49,000-square-foot Sears space vacated in August and a new Sears Hometown Store (nearly 11,000 square feet) is expected to open in the mall by the end of November.

In addition, a number of smaller stores both inside the mall and in satellite strip developments have closed or relocated to make room for new tenants, mall execs said earlier this year.

Wenatchee

Local auto supply store donates to FFA

Wenatchee FFA students are headed to their group’s state convention, and they’ll help fund the trip with box tops.

Jerry’s Auto Supply and one of their big suppliers, Wix Filters, on Oct. 14 gave Wenatchee High School’s FFA a check for more than $2,100.

The money will help fund a trip next May for up to 30 members of the group attending the state gathering in Pullman.

The students received the check after collecting 8,645 box tops from packages of Wix Filters used by Jerry’s customers, including those at fruit packing operations, maintenance shops, auto and tractor repair garages. Jerry’s sells about 90,000 Wix Filters (for oil, fuel, water, air and coolant systems) to these outfits every year.

Wix donated 25 cents per box top to the FFA cause. It’s part of the North Carolina-based company’s national push to help fund FFA activities across the country.

Jerry’s has sponsored the filter funding in past years, but in 2012 the students labeled 5-gallon buckets with FFA, Wix and Jerry’s logos. They placed the buckets in strategic spots in maintenance sheds and garages so it was easy for mechanics to toss in a box top — thus making a donation.

Ron Berschauer, president of the Jerry’s Auto Supply, said, “We’ve had moderate success with this program in the past, but this year the buckets made a big difference. The kids did a smart thing to place those buckets as a reminder of all the good work by FFA.”

It really helps some kids pay for a trip they might not be able to afford otherwise,” said Julia Spangler, 18, president of the WHS FFA chapter.

This (money) really is a huge help.”

Wenatchee

Hort convention coming to town in December

The Washington State Horticultural Association’s 109th Annual Meeting, Postharvest Conference and Northwest Horticultural Exposition will be held Dec. 2-4 at the Wenatchee Convention Center.

Attendees should prepare for three days of time travel. The theme — “Is Your Orchard Ready? Preparing Your Operation for the Next Generation” — will launch orchardists into the future of sprayers, canopies, robotic tray fillers, labor shortages, higher land prices, new varieties and the possibility of pear slices from Crunch Pak, the Cashmere-based apple snack company.

Terence Robinson, pomologist from Cornell University in New York, will give the 34th Annual Batjer Address: “A Vision for Apple and Pear Orchards of the Future.”

Presentations on dozens of other topics will fill the schedule, including one on the marmorated stink but and its effects on orchards. It’s one on a long list of presentations in English and Spanish (worker safety, fruit diseases, orchard systems, pesticide handling) throughout the three-day convention.

In light of future challenges, “we all need to keep our focus on producing only high quality fruit,” says WSHA Board President Jeff Cleveringa. “As consumers in newly emerging markets try our produce for the first time, we want them to become repeat customers from the very beginning.”

Wenatchee

Talking weeds at 63rd annual conference

With all the talk about legalized marijuana, attendance at the 63rd Annual Washington State Weed Conference should really boom. Except it’s not THAT kind of weed conference.

Instead, it’ll attract hundreds of farmers, landscapers, property owners and civic, business and ag leaders to the info-packed gathering Nov. 6-8 at the Wenatchee Convention Center to learn about noxious weeds and how to control them.

Ag experts from around the region will be on hand. Washington State University’s Tim Smith will discuss tree fruit and weeds, scientist Frank Young will talk about rye control in canola and ag specialist Allan Felsot will dig into herbicide-resistant biotech crops.

Overall, the schedule includes more than 40 speakers and presentations (crops, aquatic, ornamentals, vegetation management and more), with many sessions in Spanish. The conference will also include an indoor and outdoor trade show, a weed quiz with cash prizes, photo contest and certification for crop advisor credits and pesticide application licensing.

For info, call the Washington State Weed Association at (509) 783-4676 or visit weedconference.org.

Wenatchee

Jobless rate drops for 25th straight month

More jobs in construction, education and health services helped shrink the August unemployment rate in Chelan and Douglas counties for the 25th month in a row.

The August rate for the two counties hit 6.2 percent, down 0.7 percent from the same month last year, according to the state Employment Security Department.

The state unemployment rate fell to 6.8 percent from 8.1 percent in August 2012, while the national rate stood a 7.3 percent.

In Chelan and Douglas counties, sectors showing gains included construction (200 jobs), education and health services (200 jobs) and financial and technical services (200 jobs). The number of seasonal ag jobs also increased by 3 percent (more than 650 jobs) due to soft-fruit harvests and the anticipation of this year’s large apple harvest.

Losing sectors included leisure and hospitality with a 3.4 percent decline (200 jobs) and warehousing and trucking with a 1 percent drop (100 jobs). Government jobs also showed substantial declines due to budget cutbacks and sequestration. Federal jobs dropped 10 percent (100 jobs) and state jobs 8.3 percent (100 jobs) in year-over-year comparisons.

Cashmere

Economist warns regulations may be stifling growth

The rate of population growth in North Central Washington trails much of the state, an economist and lobbyist for the national home building industry has warned. And it could be due to what he says may be too many government regulations that have stalled business development and the jobs that come with it.

Elliot Eisenberg, a Washington, D.C.-based lecturer, told a local group of business and civic leaders that they need to figure out what keeps businesses and people from moving here — and that city, county and state regulations are a good place to start. Every year, Eisenberg speaks on this subject to dozens of groups around the U.S.

He spoke here Oct. 10 at a dinner sponsored by two housing industry groups, Building North Central Washington and the North Central Washington Association of Realtors.

You need to keep in mind that even well-intended government regulations can have unintended long-range effects,” he said in an interview. “You’ve got to watch the making of government policies and laws — remember that regulation always has its costs.”

One of those costs in NCW, he said, may be the declining rate of population growth over the last 15 years in Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties. Noting statistics compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis, he said that while populaton in the three-county area was still growing, the rate of growth lags behind other cities in the state.

Eisenberg said there’s no “silver-bullet solution that’ll correct the problem.” The answer, he said, lies in monitoring government policies and laws to make sure they encourage rather than hinder business growth.

The economist urged local leaders to make sure any new government policies or regulations contain measurable goals, concrete costs and a “sunset provision” to provide a pause in the regulation for reevaluation.

In NCW, regulations should be written to encourage agriculture, health care, education, tourism and manufacturing, said Eisenberg. “Ask yourselves if proposed legislation makes your region a more appealing place to live,” he said. “Think of it this way: No more self-inflicted wounds —does a regulation harm us? Or does it help us?

Wenatchee

Hunt for treasures at … you guessed it

The full-sized, open-mouthed, huge-toothed grizzly bear rug gets a lot of comments. So does the beautiful, framed set of Indian chief tobacco stamps.

So does the humongo-sized wall carving of a fisherman in a storm.

We’ve got a lot of surprises scattered through the store,” said Ben Thresher, the new owner of Treasure Hunters’ Theatre, but now renamed simply Treasure Hunters. “Customers spend a lot of time searching, sometimes shelf by shelf, for that perfect item.”

Thresher, 38, bought the Wenatchee antique and consignment business in September.

I’ve always been interested in antiques and quality second-hand stuff,” he said. “And I’ve been a customer here since it opened.” So, he said, he’s a natural to run a store filled with unusual and interesting merchandise.

Such as? Aisles filled with antiques and collectibles. Books, dishes, other housewares, paintings and other artworks, toys and games. Vinyl records, VHS tapes, CDs and DVDs. Tools and appliances.

We try to have a little bit of everything,” he said.

Details: Treasure Hunters, 619 S. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 888-2722.

Chelan

Artisan bakery starts serving cinnamon rolls

The Lake Chelan Artisan Bakery opened in September to rave reviews from baked-goods buffs. Co-owner Lindsay Evans said she has a passion for transforming dough into fresh-fruit Danishes, hand-made croissants, sticky buns, fresh bagels and, yes, cinnamon rolls.

Also, look for artisan breads such as their Rustic Italian, baguettes and sourdough. Of course, they use organic ingredients and as many products from local farms as they can find.

Visit the bakery at 246 W. Manson Highway in Chelan Plaza, or online at lakechelanbakery.com. Phone 682-2253.

Quincy

Quincy prime for distribution hubs, says trade magazine

Quincy was hopping last month with news about how it’s the perfect location for a big warehouse or data center. It’s got cheap land, even cheaper electricity, a willing workforce, a ship-it-by-train terminal, proximity to Interstate 90 and decent weather. In short, everything a billion-dollar company could possibly need, said city business leaders.

A sampling of last month’s buzz:

Quincy ranks as one of the cheapest places in the country to build and operate a huge retail distribution center, according to the industry journal Supply Chain Quarterly. It costs about $14 million annually to run such a center in Quincy versus Los Angeles, where you’d spend about $20.7 million.

Land and build-out costs would be $4.2 million in Quincy and $6.6 million in L.A. And energy costs? $713,000 in Quincy vs. $2.3 million in southern California.

Vantage Data Centers of Santa Clara, Calif., in September plugged in the last USB port to complete its first data center on a 68-acre campus that will eventually be home to four similar facilities with a total of nearly 530,000 square feet. It joins Microsoft, Yahoo and others who’ve built server farms in town.

The new Vantage facility has 133,000 square feet, a reduced-energy and low-emission design and, said a company press release, uses a “custom-developed indirect evaporative cooling system designed to eliminate impact from outdoor conditions through a closed loop delivery infrastructure.”

Quincy

Experts see return to ‘normal’ apple harvest

By mid-October, when a little more than half of this year’s apple harvest was complete, growers already knew it was not going to be as good a year as 2012. But that’s because 2012 was so good.

Dan Kelly, of the Washington Growers Clearinghouse, said 2012 is going to be one of those years that fruit producers use to date things. “’Remember the 2012 crop?’ That’s what it’s going to be down the road,” he said.

Not that the 2013 crop — or the returns to the grower — are all that bad. It’s just closer to the average.

Nothing stellar, nothing tragic,” Mike Robinson, general manager for Double Diamond Fruit in Quincy, said. “Last year was a stellar year. This year is an OK year,”

Washington will produce about 120 million boxes of apples in 2013. “That’s a rough figure,” Kelly said. That compares to about 129 million boxes in 2012 and 109 million boxes in 2011, he said.

The 2012 crop benefited from unusual market conditions, Kelly said. Bad weather took out the crop in Michigan and New York, the second and third largest apple producers in the U.S. Bad weather also damaged the 2012 crop in China, Kelly said. China is the world’s largest producer. “We were the only ones in the whole world who were up (had a larger crop than the previous year),” he said.

We were the only girl on the dance floor,” Chelan Fresh Marketing Director Mac Riggan said, which sells apples for producers throughout the state. “Now there are other girls on the dance floor.” Currently prices are trending downward, but they were starting from a better price than 2012, he said.

It’s back to a normal market as far as what’s available out there,” Kelly said. Still, a normal market will provide returns for growers, if people refrain from selling just to sell, Tim Smith, tree fruit specialist with WSU-Chelan County Extension, said.

I hope that everyone will maintain their composure,” Smith said. Retailers have learned they can make money at price levels that also make money for growers, he said. “They (retailers) might not want (apples) for free unless we offer them for free,” he said.

Retailers make money on our apples,” Riggan said.

The crop is smaller than 2012 and the fruit is bigger, Robinson said. Hail was a recurring problem around the state, and that damaged some fruit, Smith said. But damage depended on location, Robinson said; Royal City suffered some hail damage while Quincy orchards escaped.

The fruit that’s getting in the bin is good quality, Robinson said. But then there’s nothing unusual about that, Smith said. “Quality is always good.”

Harvest is about a week ahead of the average for mid-October, Kelly said. Rain has caused some delays, he said, but “the number one issue is labor.”

A labor shortage “is pretty much ubiquitous across the tree fruit industry this year. And rain,” Smith said. “They (growers) are kind of keeping up, but it’s a struggle.”

Some areas, they’re barely getting by, and other areas — I don’t know what they’re doing,” Kelly said. “Labor has just been a challenge.”

The Columbia Basin, being in the middle of the region, has escaped some of the worst of the labor shortages, Kelly said. “The majority of growers would take some more labor if it was available,” Smith said.

One of the misconceptions the public has is that apple picking is not a skill,” Smith said. A picker needs experience for a maximum return, “and that experience is hard-won. You’re going to go through some tough days of work before you get good at it.”

The Red Delicious variety accounts for the biggest share of apples produced in the state, Kelly said. Red Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Honeycrisp varieties account for 90 percent of the state’s production, he said.

— Columbia Basin Herald

Yakima

New Del Monte owner says it’ll be business as usual

The familiar Del Monte water towers in Yakima and Toppenish aren’t going anywhere, the new owner of the processing plants said.

We will be taking over all the consumer foods plants including Yakima and will continue to operate them,” said Jennifer Luy, a spokeswoman for Singapore-based Del Monte Pacific Limited, in an email to the Yakima Herald-Republic.

The deal, which will be finalized early next year, calls for Del Monte Pacific, which owns the company’s brand in the Philippines, to purchase the consumer foods division for $1.675 billion.

Meanwhile, San Francisco-based and privately held Del Monte Foods, which announced the sale last week, will focus on its pet food products business. Brands include Meow Mix and Kibbles ‘n Bits.

Del Monte Foods’ plants in Yakima and Toppenish operate up to eight months of the year, processing dark sweet cherries, Bartlett pears, Italian plums, apples and corn. The company employs about 50 full-time and 600 seasonal workers in the Valley.

The company also owns storage facilities in Terrace Heights and Sawyer, which it acquired when it purchased assets of the bankrupt Snokist Growers last year.

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