PORT ANGELES — One of the largest family-owned farm stores on the North Olympic Peninsula is closing its doors in Port Angeles and moving close to Sequim after negotiations to purchase the property it is currently leasing fell through.
Leitz Farms will close its doors at 1527 E. Front St. at the end of the day March 23, and reopen at 8 a.m. March 27 at 259110 U.S. Highway 101 at the former Lumbermen’s Building Center.
“There’s a lot of people in Port Angeles that don’t want to see us move that far away,” said the store’s owner, Ed Leitz. “I don’t want to move that far away.”
Leitz, who started the company with his father 15 years ago, said he is sad to leave Port Angeles, but excited for the potential to grow the business further and meet customers’ needs.
“In moving, it opens up the doors even further with more potential for growth,” Leitz said during an interview Sunday. “That was definitely a positive thing about moving.”
The current store, which covers about 15,000 square feet, sits on a little more than two acres of property, he said. The new property has about 35,000 square feet of covered space and sits on about 5.3 acres.
Leitz estimated the store has between 30 and 40 semi-truck loads that will need to be packed and unpacked in just a handful of days and expects that weekend to, at best, be “organized chaos.”
The lease on the Port Angeles location is up by the end of the month, so crews will spend the remaining days cleaning up and making sure the store didn’t leave anything behind.
He said that generally his customers have been sad, but supportive of the decision to move. Many have had positives attitudes about the move while others have been upset, he said, adding he understands their frustration.
Leitz said he has been trying to negotiate a price to purchase the Port Angeles property for the past two years, but the deal fell through when the property was discovered to have waste oil contamination.
Initial tests showed the property was clear, but when Leitz’s bank requested a second round of testing, the oil was discovered about 7 feet underground near a building, Leitz said.
Testing didn’t show whether the contamination had spread under the building, but it was a risk Leitz said he was unwilling to take.
Leitz made an offer to purchase the former Lumbermen’s Building Center property as a “last resort.”
The store will operate under a temporary lease until Leitz secures the financing to purchase the property, he said.
He had looked for property closer to Port Angeles, but said there was no space big enough to move to. He was willing to buy raw land and build from the ground up, but couldn’t find land that would work.
“All the properties we found … have wetlands on them,” rendering them mostly unusable, he said. “I had been looking into it for the last year.”
Though Leitz wanted to stay in Port Angeles, he said he is excited he will be able to expand the business even further. He spent the first six years operating the business from his home and primarily focused on hay sales at first.
The business has served Port Angeles for more than nine years and business boomed when the store moved to its Front Street location.
“We literally went from just moving hay 11 years ago to definitely being the biggest tractor dealer on the [Olympic Peninsula] and probably the largest family-owned farm store on the Peninsula as well,” he said. “Most of the new products we’ve brought in have been things customers have asked us to do. We listen to our customers and we’ve always tried to do what we could to take care of customers the best that we can.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].