When an unexpected opportunity arose to purchase two Safeway stores in Missoula, Craig Holtet and Ron Ramsbacher were ready to meet the challenge. The business partners have entered into an agreement, subject to approval by the Federal Trade Commission, to purchase the Safeway stores on Broadway Street and Reserve Street. The new stores will be called Missoula Fresh Market. The transition is expected to be completed in February 2015.

The two newly acquired stores are approximately 55,000 square foot facilities and employ around 180 people. Ramsbacher and Holtet expect to offer employment to the Missoula associates at both stores.

The new stores will be a one-stop grocery shopping experience for Missoulians with produce, meat, floral, bakery, deli, pharmacy and fuel. Missoula Fresh Market will carry a full line of “Montana Made” products and popular brands like Western Family and Full Circle, a high quality and affordable organic brand, all at competitive prices. Holtet and Ramsbacher expect the transition to go smoothly and both stores will remain open during the change.

The purchase is not the first venture into the grocery industry for Holtet and Ramsbacher. The pair purchased the Orange Street Food Farm a year ago when the owners of the 60-year-old store retired.  The two have been friends since they met while attending the University of Montana. Before becoming store owners Ramsbacher worked at a local CPA firm for 25 years while Holtet spent 19 years working in the grocery industry.

“We are excited to continue the sense of community that Missoulians have long known at the Orange Street Food Farm,” said Holtet.  “That’s what makes Missoula so special.  You can come into our stores, see people you know, relax and have a more casual and personal shopping experience.”