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The award was given last week in conjunction with RevitalizeWA, Washington State's Preservation and Main Street Conference.
Country Aire Natural Foods owners Robyn and John Miletich began selling bulk food, herbs and spices in 1975.
Although the first market was successful, the Country Aire retail space was described by the owners as the “most inconvenient store downtown” as it had no private parking, minimal street exposure and narrow aisles.
Then in May 2009, the 35,000- square-foot Gottschalks department store closed, leaving a noticeable hole in the downtown retail core.
The space sat vacant for two years until the Miletiches came to the rescue. Wanting to create a space that would draw people downtown, the Miletiches got help from a matching grant from the city of Port Angeles for fašade renovations and began construction in 2011, ultimately transforming the building into the new Country Aire Natural Foods Market.
The new store, which opened in May 2012, is five times the size of the original and includes a larger deli, more local produce, fair trade goods, locally made wines and ciders.
Soon, this lineup will include the area's largest butcher shop, featuring hormone-free meats, the owners said.
“Everyone in this community knew that Robyn and John would create something special, but no one knew just how special it would be,” said Port Angeles Downtown Association Executive Director Barbara Frederick.
Said Sarah Hansen, Washington State Main Street coordinator:
“The Miletiches clearly see the importance of investing in the community and have focused on creating an inviting retail space while continuously increasing and expanding their offerings.
“Their vision and hard work has paid off; they've created 50 local jobs and a loyalty program boasting more than 4,500 members.
“Their success is an inspiration.”
“Excellence on Main” awards recognize communities, organizations and individuals who help achieve sustainable communities and economic vitality in Washington state through downtown revitalization and preservation.