Roger’s Market Place employed 18 people, many of whom have lined up other jobs.

Roger’s Market Place employed 18 people, many of whom have lined up other jobs.

Customers mourn grocer, closure of Mountlake Terrace store

Roger’s Market Place in Mountlake Terrace is set to close on March 1, following owner Roger Bottman’s death at the age of 75, and the community is mourning both the store and the man.

“RIP Roger,” wrote one customer on a poster board provided to capture memories for Bottman’s family. “Your store is one of my favorite places because the people here are so awesome.”

“Thank you for every sacrifice you and your family have made providing for the community,” wrote another.

One couple wrote, “Thanks for being here as a really hometown store. We will miss it a lot.”

“Such a sad time!” a woman wrote. “When I got married in 1974 and moved to MLT, this was Lucky’s and I shopped here. They closed. Then this store came (a few name changes before settling on Roger’s) — still shopping here.

“It’s the only grocery store where the customers form bonds with (and sometimes get hugs from) the employees! I love Roger’s Marketplace (sic)!”

All told, there were 10 poster boards filled by early this week with memories and condolences for Bottman, who died Jan. 21. When they ran out of space, people started writing on the poster board announcing both Bottman’s death and the store’s closure.

Store manager Fred Gibson said he’s heard a lot of stories and he’s got a few of his own. He worked for Bottman when the man owned Roger’s Thriftway in Seattle’s Central District. (According to an article in The Stranger in June 1999, Bottman owned his Central District store for 23 years before selling to Lenny Rose, who turned it into Union Red Apple.) Today, that store is a Grocery Outlet, Gibson said.

He worked for Rose for a year or two, but followed Bottman north to Mountlake Terrace around 2003, said Gibson, describing Bottman as “a very kind, soft-spoken man” who got his point across without having to raise his voice.

“He was a great man,” Gibson said. “He was like a dad to me.”

And for years, he said, Roger’s Market Place served as a kind of general store for the neighborhood.

“We kind of compare it to Cheers,” he said, referring to the bar in the 1980s and ‘90s sitcom, “because everybody knows your name.”

Located at 23120 56th Ave. W., the store was built in 1951, according to Snohomish County tax records, and the 2.14-acre property is valued at $2.6 million. According to nextmlt.com, the store originally opened as a Foodland grocery; it was listed for sale just over two years ago for $4 million, though that price was later dropped to $2.75 million.

Whatever the future holds for the site, it’s unlikely to be a grocery store. Or at least, not just a grocery store, located as it is within an area Mountlake Terrace has designated as part of its Main Street Revitalization Project. Gibson said the city’s vision includes a multi-story apartment building with shops underneath.

Gibson said Roger’s has 18 employees, including himself. Some already have jobs lined up, but for those who don’t, a representative of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 was in recently handing out cards, as was someone from QFC stores.

“I would recommend any of these employees to any grocery store,” Gibson said. “They are all excellent employees.”

As for Gibson, who said he’s worked in the grocery business for 36 years, the future is uncertain.

“It’s been a whirlwind for the last couple of weeks,” he said, “so I’m going to take a week off and collect myself.”

Bottman’s death wasn’t entirely unexpected, Gibson said, as the store owner had been battling a variety of ailments, particularly in the past year.

A resident of Snohomish, Bottman leaves his wife of 40 years, Barbara, and sons Ken, Eric and Craig Bottman, and daughter, Kim Lampard.

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