Bemidji grocer gains international attention for selling business to employees - Bring Me The News

Bemidji grocer gains international attention for selling business to employees


Joe Lueken, owner of Lueken's Village Foods based in Bemidji, has been fielding phone calls from media outlets around the world after he announced he was selling the company to his 400 employees.

After 46 years running the company, Lueken will transfer ownership of three stores, two in Bemidji and one in Wahpeton, N.D., on Jan. 1 through an employee stock ownership program.

Since the announcement, reporters across the United States and all over the world have contacted Lueken for interviews. The Bemidji native will appear on "Good Morning America" on Dec. 10.

ABC News reports each employee will own stock, but the number of shares will be based in their salary and years of service.

According to Lueken's website, the decision to move to employee-ownership is also in the best interest of the community: "When profits stay local, everyone wins."

Next Up


Bemidji man sells grocery store to employees

Joe Lueken, 70, got his start in the grocery business in 1966, and he's become a beloved figure around town over the decades. But now he's getting out. Last week he told store employees that he was selling the company – to them.

Santorum sweater vests have business booming at Bemidji Woolen Mills

Rick Santorum's presidential campaign ordered 1,000 sweater vests from the Bemidji company and is giving them to anyone who donates $100. The company's owner says he's happy for the business but it's a little overwhelming. And he's never moved so many vests, which are usually a "back of the store" item.

Transgender murder trial gains attention

Chrishaun McDonald, a black transgender woman from Minneapolis, said she was protecting herself from a hate crime when she allegedly stabbed Dean Schmitz, a white man from Richfield. She claims that Schmitz and his friends taunted her with anti-gay and racist remarks and threw a glass at her. McDonald is receiving support from local elected officials and transgender advocates across the nation. The trial opens today.