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."

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