Prince's Foods sells to independent grocer John Akins

Prince's Foods
Prince’s Foods has sold to John Akins, who also has family-owned grocery stores in Quincy and Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The transition to the new owner and management will be in mid-October. The Prince brothers, Ben and Jim, will continue to maintain ownership of the building and the adjacent RV Park. Photo by Gary DeVon

Jim Prince to celebrate 50 years in the business

OROVILLE – Prince’s Foods has been purchased by John Akins, an independent grocer with a family history in the grocery business.

The sale was announced on Wednesday, Sept 15 by Prince’s Foods owners Jim and Ben Prince, and the ownership and management transition will take effect next month on Oct. 15.

“We had a meeting and informed all the employees the other day,” said Jim Prince last Thursday afternoon.

Prince’s Foods will become the third store for Akins, a second generation grocer with a lifetime of experience. He currently owns grocery stores in Quincy and Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

“Akins is a great fit and well qualified to lead Prince’s Foods into the future,” said Jim Prince, 73, whose 50th anniversary of working in his family’s business is this month.

“It’s time for us to step aside and it was important to us to find a buyer who shares our values as a local, independent retailer with a genuine commitment to our employees and our community,” he said.

Akins agrees, and said, “We look forward to continuing the strong tradition that the Prince family has brought to the Oroville and North Okanogan Valley area.”

The sale to Akins is the culmination of a deal started in late 2009, according to Prince. Akins will lease the space occupied by the food store from the Prince bothers, who will retain ownership of the property and the adjacent RV Park.

Prince’s was founded in 1933 by Jim and Ben Prince’s father Ben F. Prince in a store called Ben Prince Thrifty Store on Main Street (currently the south half of the Pastime Tavern) in Oroville. In 1958, the elder Prince relocated and expanded the store to Ironwood Street (now Prince’s Warehouse). Jim Prince joined his father in the business in 1963. Prince’s then expanded to occupy two buildings, including Prince’s IGA at their Ironwood Street location. The shopping center was constructed and the business was relocated to its current location on the north end of Oroville on Highway 97 in 1978.

The Prince’s department Store and Prince’s Warehouse businesses were sold to Jack and Mary Hughes in 2011.

“I am thankful to the employees and the communities who have supported us over the past 79 years,” Jim Prince said.

The grocery and department store share a large el-shaped building joined in the middle at Customer Service. This floor plan allows customers to go back and forth between the two stores without having to pass through a separate entrance. No changes are planned in store hours between the two business at this time.