URM Stores, Inc. (formerly United Retail Merchants) began in 1921 when five retailers banded together to form the corporation under the laws of the State of Washington. Its history is filled with interesting and sometimes frightening stories of the company’s fight to survive. URM Stores, Inc., and its member-owners overcame the competition of five other wholesalers, the great depression, lack of financing, and a host of other problems, but it has survived and prospered.
URM is a retailer-owned business. This means that the shareholders of URM are all retail grocers who are customers of URM, as well as its member-owners. This dual relationship forges a special bond in which the retailer and URM employees establish a close business relationship and is one very important reason for the success of both the retailers and URM. This time-proven relationship is the best way to serve the member-owners’ needs and to provide them with the support necessary to ensure their growth and success.
During its history, URM moved to several different facilities, each time acquiring more space to meet its needs. URM moved into its present location at N. 7511 Freya in 1960 and constructed a warehouse and office with 333,000 square feet. In 1975, a warehouse expansion was completed, putting the total square footage at 483,000. The warehouse includes excellent truck service and repair facilities built in the 1975 expansion. These facilities currently serve a fleet of over 60 trucks and 130 trailers plus a number of forklifts, pallet jacks, and assorted equipment. The present office facility was constructed in 1984.
In 2015, another expansion was completed, bringing the total warehouse square footage to approximate 685,000. This expansion allowed URM to add items to its product selection, giving it 26,000 items in all with an average weekly inventory of $45 million. This increased product selection will help URM’s member-owners expand their market share.
Over the years, sales volume has grown to over $1 billion and employment to over 2,755 employees at URM and its subsidiaries.
URM’s core business is the purchasing, warehousing and delivery of merchandise inventory to its member-owners through its Patronage Departments. URM operates on a cooperative basis, which means that all of its net earnings on business done with or for its member-owners through its Patronage Departments are allocated and paid to its member-owners in the form of patronage dividends. Such patronage dividends are paid to the member-owners in proportion to the business each member-owner does with URM through each of its Patronage Departments.
Over the years, several additions have been made to URM’s core business. In the 50’s and 60’s, URM started operating a group of small regional distribution centers called Cash & Carry’s, which provide small stores, restaurants and similar business operations with a full selection of grocery, food service, frozen foods and perishable products. Today, these six Cash & Carrys operate as retail stores open to the public and featuring institutional products as well as retail items.
URM Development Corporation was established in 1959, as a finance company to assist member-owners in obtaining the capital required to grow their businesses. This subsidiary has proven to be a growth tool to the member-owners.
The year 1968 saw the introduction of Western Family, which is a complete line of private label products. URM is one of a group of cooperative distribution centers that own Western Family Foods. This Western Family affiliation has provided URM’s member-owners with the strongest and most complete private label program in our marketing area.
In 1976, URM established its Foodservice/Convenience Store Departments, which has grown to approximately 1,000 customers. The Foodservice Division services restaurants, schools, casinos, and other food away from home businesses. The Convenience Store Division provides goods and services to traditional convenience stores as well as small grocery stores that are not Member Owners.
In 1979, URM Insurance Agency was initiated to provide low-cost business insurance coverage tailored to the needs of the grocery industry. Through this agency, URM offers its member-owners the finest selection of products and services.
In 1984, URM formed a real estate holding company called R.S.M. Inc., which acquires and leases supermarket properties to URM member-owners. That same year, URM purchased Rosauers Supermarkets from its founders, Mert and Jessie Rosauer.
In 1986 URM purchased Peirone Produce Co., which supplies URM member-owners the freshest produce in the market.
In 1990, URM sold its interest in Rosauers Supermarkets to the Rosauers employees under an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.
In 1999, URM formed Premier Brokerage Company to assist member-owners in complex real estate transactions.
In 2000, URM successfully bid against competitors and was able to reacquire Rosauers Supermarkets, which today is a wholly owned subsidiary of URM Stores.
In 2015, URM is the 7th largest privately owned equal opportunity employer in the State of Washington.
As we approach our 100th anniversary, the history and growth of URM Stores, Inc., stands as a testimony to the strength and vitality of the retailer-owned system. The total URM team looks forward to the future with optimism because of the successful foundation established in the past as well as sustaining a meaningful tradition based upon basic faith in the strength of dedicated and loyal member-owners, customers, vendor partners and employees.