The Grass Valley Country Market (104 Mill Street, Grass Valley, Oregon) offers groceries, household sundries and commercial kitchen services to the local Grass Valley community and surrounding area, plus highway through traffic. The market is a critical source for food service and supplies in the community. Most residents in Sherman County are accustomed to driving an hour or more for most of their major grocery, hardware, and other needs. The market is an important local resource for such items as a gallon of milk, bag of flour, or a loaf of bread – but it also serves a larger purpose, and that is providing a place for locals to get a hot meal and gather. With financing support from the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD) loan program, Bonne and Roger Whitley purchased the Grass Valley Country Market in 2020.
“The market is often referenced as a pillar of the community, and the city’s viability is dependent upon the success of its local store. The Grass Valley Country Market is strongly supported by residents within the city of Grass Valley and the county at large. The community understands that without a successful pillar, such as the market, the community itself would falter,” said Roger Whitley.
Built in 1903, the building that is currently home to Grass Valley Country Market originally housed a number of community businesses including a dental office, doctor’s office, meat market, apartments, and even a brothel. The building was turned into a combination grocery store and butcher shop in the 1960’s and was then renovated as a stand-alone grocery store in the late 1980’s. With the exception of a brief 6 year hiatus, the store has been in continual operation ever since. The Whitley’s have secured a grant and matching funds for the purposes of restoring the building façade and bringing back its historic charm. The Whitley’s also plan to rent out unused spaces in the building for community use in the future.
The Grass Valley Country Market is committed to satisfying customers by providing a broad selection of high quality and competitively priced products combined with exceptional customer service. The focus of the Market is to create an environment that is warm, friendly and community oriented. “We are committed to our employees and suppliers by treating them with respect, fairness and integrity and exposing them to an atmosphere that fosters teamwork and professional development. We view employees, suppliers and customers as part of the family. The store strives to be a steward in the local community and promote local involvement,” said Whitley.
In addition to the broad range of local and national grocery items, the store also offers gourmet and natural/organic products and produce. There is a deli and commercial kitchen that provides fresh hot meals including specials such as house made clam chowder, hand dipped cod fish n’ chips, fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy. Supporting “local” is important to the store and there are plans to partner with local farmers for natural/grass fed beef and dry-aged beef. The Grass Valley Country Market is open year-round for the customer’s convenience and located next to the city post office.
Bonne Whitley has many years of experience in the food service industry. She has worked and volunteered as a cook in a variety of local settings and owned and operated a small café for several years. Prior to the purchase of the Grass Valley Country Market, Bonne was already serving as a short order cook and kitchen manager there. “My goal is to keep the market open for the community as a place to gather, have good food to eat, and catering for the special events in their lives,” said Bonne Whitley.
Roger Whitley served in the Navy Air Force as an aviation electrician and spent 20 years as a high voltage electrician for Bonneville Power Administration. He spent 10 years with Voice Of America before returning home. He retired from the United States government with 30 years of service and has been invested in restoring the Grass Valley Country Market as a hub of the community.
The MCEDD Loan Program is available to entrepreneurs, start-up businesses and existing businesses doing business in the five county (Sherman, Hood River, Wasco, Klickitat and Skamania) Mid-Columbia Area. This loan program is part of MCEDD’s efforts to strengthen and support the region’s economy.