Office Max says it's not leaving

Office Max in says it has no plans to leave Oak Harbor. However, the building
Office Max in says it has no plans to leave Oak Harbor. However, the building's owner applied with the city to remodel the store for a Grocery Outlet.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland

Oak Harbor city officials are scratching their heads about the future of the Office Max store visible from State Highway 20.

Koetje Road LLC, the company that owns the Office Max property, submitted an application to the city’s Development Services Department to remodel the 23,700-square-foot building for a Grocery Outlet store.

Problem is, Office Max isn’t planning to leave.

In an email, Julianne Carelli, senior manager with Office Max public relations, said that the office supply business has no plans to close the store on Northeast Koetje Street.

A couple of employees told the Whidbey News-Times they heard rumors about Office Max closing, but they were told by company officials that it’s just rumors.

Likewise, Mayor Scott Dudley and Development Services Director Steve Powers said they’ve heard the same story from Office Max employees and are curious about what’s going on.

Patrick Davis, construction manager for Grocery Outlet, said plans to move into Oak Harbor aren’t solid.

“Nothing has been agreed upon,” he said, but added that he couldn’t discuss the plans in detail.

Terrance Lien, of Bellingham, a representative for Koetje Road LLC, did not return a call for comment on the project.

The plans submitted to the City of Oak Harbor call for interior remodeling, including a new entrance vestibule. The plans also stated that Grocery Outlet will have 35 employees.

Grocery Outlet stores are “destination stores” that offer deep discounts of brand name items, according to an application Davis made for a store in San Francisco last year.

The company currently encompasses more than 200 independently operated stores in seven states, including one in Mount Vernon.


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