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Everyday Business | Local rue21 survives nationwide closures

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Teen fashion retailer rue21 has no plans to close either of its North Central Washington stores — one in East Wenatchee, one in Moses Lake — despite recent debt woes that could be moving the company towards bankruptcy. 

On Wednesday, the trendy “fast-fashion” chain announced closure of up to 400 stores. Not on the list were rue21 outlets at Wenatchee Valley Mall in East Wenatchee and Grant County Mall in Moses Lake. Employees confirmed the stores’ survival on Thursday.

It’s true — we are closing some stores,” the retailer tweeted to followers last week. “It was a difficult but necessary decision. We still have hundreds of locations across the country, and our website rue21.com, open for business.”

With more than 1,200 stores in 48 states, the company has been vague on its closing locations and timeline for shutting the doors. Early last week, it highlighted stores tagged for closing at its online “Find A Store” page, but later deleted those tags.

However, newspapers in Seattle and Portland listed up to 10 outlets that will close in those cities and others along the Interstate 5 corridor. Some stores have already posted signs for close-out sales, the newspapers reported.

Debtwire, an online financial news site, reported earlier this month that rue21 was having trouble meeting mortgage and interest payments and had built up $824 million in debt. Company officials said the planned closures will enable the retailer to focus on its profitable stores and online site.

CMI SHIFTS TOP MARKETING BRASS

CMI Orchards, the umbrella marketing company for some the region’s big fruit companies (such as McDougall & Sons), has juggled some of its top staff in the last month.

Steve Lutz, former vice-president of marketing, left that position March 31 to become CMI’s senior strategist. Lutz had been in the position since 2013 after previously serving as president of the Washington Apple Commission and a partner in a consulting firm for fresh-food sales.

Lutz said a severe bicycle crash in the 2014 Boise Ironman event caused him to “begin giving serious consideration to resetting priorities,” said a CMI press release. “I’m back 100 percent, but the long recovery from that crash was a wake-up call,” he said. “It caused me to start thinking about the importance of prioritizing personal goals.”

George Harter, a 20-year Kroger executive, was named to fill the company’s lead marketing position. At the grocery chain, he helped manage several produce operations, most recently as produce-and-floral merchandiser for Kroger’s 186-store Atlanta division.

SIP AT SNOWGRASS

Snowgrass Winery in Entiat invites you to try its new 2016 River Rosé at a special spring wine-tasting event from noon to 5 p.m. April 30.

The wine is made from four different grapes and is the only commercial rosé made from fruit grown at an Entiat Valley vineyard. Also featured will be the winery’s new 2013 Southdown Sangiovese and a few other of Snowgrass’ award-winning reds.

Cost for the tasting is $5. The winery is located at 6710 Entiat River Road, 5.5 miles west of Highway 97A. For more info, call 784-5101 or visit snowgrasswines.com.

CAST YOUR VOTE FORBEST FARMERS MARKET

A few years ago the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market was named best in the Northwest by KING 5 TV’s Evening Magazine. Now a new ballot for scads of “bests” — resorts to restaurants to festivals — is available for your consideration as part of the station’s Best Northwest Escapes promotion. Pybus Public Market (host of the local farmers market) is asking you to cast a vote for the WVFM.

But be quick about it. Voting ends at 11 p.m. tonight (April 23). Visit ow.ly/cM4E30b1xGK and search through the numerous candidates for Pybus Public Market.

This weekly column is compiled from “Everyday Business,” a blog by World reporter Mike Irwin. You can reach him at 665-1179 or irwin@wenatcheeworld.com.