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Yakima Fruit Market
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Yakima Fruit Market defeats Sound Transit thanks to community support

The sign at the Yakima Fruit Market in Bothell. (Photo courtesy of Yakima Fruit Market)

The Yakima Fruit Market in Bothell was going to be closed down because of a Sound Transit expansion, but owner Stuart Poage had positive news to share with KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show on Tuesday.

As some listeners may remember, due to the establishment of Bus Rapid Transit along the State Route 522 corridor on the north end of Lake Washington — part of the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 package that voters passed in 2016 — the Yakima Fruit Market was told it could lose its parking lot and part of its building to new business and transit lanes.

“It’s been about two years we’ve been dealing with it and many meetings,” he said. “… And in the end, it didn’t look very good, so we got an attorney. He said, ‘it’s a lost cause. You’re going to lose this battle. I’ll just try to get the most money as I can for your property.'”

“Well, it’s been in our family for a long time,” Poage said about the market. “The business has been there for over 80 years. We didn’t want to close, so we reached out to the media. My wife wrote letters. In fact, I think you were our first response. And to be honest with you, your voice galvanized public support for us. That was the tide that started flowing our way, where we got … 10,000 postcards we sent into the city.”

These postcards, Poage said, were filled out in part by Dori Monson Show listeners, and residents of Bothell, Kenmore, and Woodinville.

“In the end, I think the thing that changed our destiny was the postcards, the Dori Monson Show, The Seattle Times,” Poage said. “The pressure, I guess, from that was enough for [Sound Transit] to decide they didn’t need to take us out anymore.”

Dori credits Poage’s heritage, and the blood, sweat, and tears his family has put into the business.

“You saved the place. It wasn’t me,” Dori said. “It was all the years, and effort, and love and diligence. I just came along at the right time to kind of put a spotlight on all that stuff, but I’ve got to defer the credit on this.”

Poage said that’s sweet and he likes the concept, but he truly believes it was the public support and input that helped them survive and push back against Sound Transit.

“The thing that was eye opening for me was the emotional support and people saying those words that you just used to me saying, ‘this is part of my history.’ ‘I don’t want this to go.’ I had no concept, really, Dori, that we meant that to the public,” Poage said. “And it was overwhelming. I can’t tell you what a roller coaster, emotionally, it’s been for our family. I don’t just mean the pressure of Sound Transit putting us out, but the support and the kind of emotions that people threw down.”

“It did show a galvanization of feeling that I don’t know that I felt for an awful long time, a community feeling,” he added. “And so it gave me some sort of strength to keep pushing forward.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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