Chairman and CEO George D. Bartell celebrated the opening of the Washington drugstore chain’s 60th full store before a crowd on Wednesday, Nov. 20.
On a bright, cold, “picture-postcard day,” he joined Terry Clinch, pharmacist at the newly opened North Bend Bartell Drugs store, with manager Charlotte Grondahl, and a guest, North Bend mayor Ken Hearing, as they sliced a red ribbon with an enormous pair of scissors. Then, he welcomed visitors inside the new store, there to partake of popcorn or slices of commemorate cake, or, as a voice from the crowd suggested, shop.
“Shop would be just great,” said Bartell.
North Bend’s new store is the chain’s furthest east. Bartell’s does business in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.
The new store opened last Friday, Nov. 15, at a custom-built 15,683 square-foot “next generation” building at 248 Bendigo Blvd. S., northeast corner of Bendigo Boulevard and Park Avenue. Inside is a cosmetics section; “Urban Market” food and gift section, a photo print studio; a full-service pharmacy with drive-through window; and wellness products and personal fitness tools in the “Holistech Living” section. Store hours will be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
“North Bend has lacked a regular drug store for quite a while,” said Bartell. “We’re thrilled to fill that gap.”
“This is a family business,” said Bartell. “It’s been in the same family ownership since its founding in 1890.”
His grandfather started the company after coming to Seattle as a teen from a farm in Kansas.
Since then, some things haven’t changed for the chain, said Bartell.
One is that the customer is number one.
“My grandfather always talked about the golden rule: Do unto others as you would like to be treated yourself. We still try to practice it today. We’re proud of the values that have endured for nearly 124 years now.
While it’s one of the country’s bigger chains, “we’re one-150th the size of the big guys who operate nationally,” said Bartell. “We’re hyperlocal, and we like it that way. Everybody who works here lives here, goes to the same churches, grocery stores and PTA meetings that our customers go to.”
Dignitaries in attendance included North Bend Council members Ryan Kolodejchuk, David Cook, Jeanne Pettersen and Jonathan Rosen. Also there was Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Nate Perea.
Bartell also acknowledged the North Bend landlords, Tom and Elizabeth Sroufe and Jim and Betty Borgen.
“Their persistence is one of the main reasons we’re here,” he said. “They finally succeeded, and I’m glad they did.”
Local connections abounded on Wednesday.
“I came up to say hello to George D.,” said Richard Rutledge, owner of the Twin Rivers Golf Course in Fall City. His line of work before golf was running Rutledge Sign and Graphics, the company’s long-running sign vendor.
Bartell made a point of referring to Lisa Raphael, a North Bend resident who works in the corporate office but will now have duties at the North Bend store. She wore a cashier’s nametag Wednesday.
“I’ve worked for the company for 35 years,” said Raphael, who will be doing “a little bit of everything” here. “I love the neighborhood, and I love the Bartell family. It’s a great fit.”
Her husband, photographer Danny Raphael, was tapped for the scenic photos hung in the store lobby, shots of Mount Si, the Falls, and the Northwest Railway Museum’s historic rails.
“He takes great pictures, so I offered up his services,” she said.
Maddy Mitchell was the first customer at the new Bartell Drugs in North Bend on Nov. 15. Lisa Raphael waits on her.
Pharmacist Terry Clinch, store manager Charlotte Grondahl, and North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing join Bartell CEO George D. Bartell as he cuts the ribbon in an opening ceremony for the new North Bend store. Jessica Perkins, a marketing specialist, and CJ Holm, a Bartell web designer, hold the ribbon. Hearing’s father worked for Bartell.
Visitors to the store come in following the ribbon cutting.