Heebs Fresh Market, a local grocery store on the east end of Bozeman, has sold to Town & Country Foods.

Town & Country, the Bozeman-based and employee-owned grocery chain, plans to rebrand Heebs and take over effective Jan. 1.

After 13 years of owning and operating Heebs Fresh Market, owners Sherri and Mitch Bradley plan to retire.

Mitch Bradley, 62, said moving to retirement will be a big adjustment. He thinks he’ll miss the relationships he’s formed with his employees and customers the most.

“I have so many conversations every day and to have that change will be pretty significant for me,” he said, joking that he may start walking into stores just to strike up conversations with strangers.

Bradley has worked at grocery stores for nearly 45 years. He first started as a bag boy for Buttrey’s Supermarket while in high school and later worked for Smith’s Food and Drug.

In 2008, the Bradleys bought Heebs — then at its former location at 544 E. Main St. It moved to its location at 200 Highland Blvd. — which roughly doubled its size — in 2019.

Mitch Bradley said the move to retirement was, in part, prompted by the loss of a very close personal friend to COVID-19 last year.

“When he passed away it made me start thinking, ‘maybe we should start exploring the idea of retiring,’” Bradley said.

Bradley approached Travis Frandsen, the president of Town & Country Foods. He wanted to keep Heebs locally owned and felt the two stores shared similar values.

“Our employees will get a better benefits package, and being an employee-owned company it’ll benefit them significantly,” he said. “It all added up and made sense.”

Frandsen said the plan is to keep all 53 Heebs employees. While some employees may feel apprehensive about the sale, Frandsen said he hoped they would see the benefit of working for an employee-owned company.

“It might take time to for them to understand, but at some level they’ll be working for themselves,” Frandsen said.

From a business aspect, Frandsen said it made sense to establish a Town & Country presence in that area of Bozeman.

Town & Country has two locations in Bozeman, one on North 19th Avenue in the middle of the city and one on South 11th Avenue near the Montana State University campus. Town & Country is also planning to build a new store on the west end of Bozeman.

The local chain also has stores in Belgrade, Livingston, Lewistown, Dillon and Billings.

Frandsen said any changes to Heebs — aside from rebranding — will be minor. Town & Country plans to keep Heebs’ online shopping service.

After retirement, Mitch and Sherri want to spend time traveling to visit their children. Mitch Bradley said he’s also excited to have more free time with Sherri.

Bradley, who sits as a board of directors with the HRDC, also wants to spend more time working with the Gallatin Valley Food Bank.

For the Bradleys, the move to retirement is exciting, albeit bittersweet. Aside from trips to visit family, the Bradleys plan to stay in Bozeman.

“Sherri and I so much appreciate the support we’ve been given by the Bozeman community. We’re very grateful to have a business in Bozeman and be successful,” he said. “It’s only because of our shoppers that we’ve been able to do that.”