The Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe completed the purchase last week of one of Kingston's best-known businesses.
Kountry Korner gas station and store, familiar to motorists for its oddball collection of roadside chainsaw carvings, sold to the tribe's Noo-Kayet Development Corporation for about $2.3 million, according to sale documents.
The purchase gives the tribe a high-profile presence at the corner of Highway 104 and Miller Bay Road, on the busy tourist corridor between the Kingston ferry and the Olympic Peninsula. Built in 1985, Kountry Korner store also enjoys a dedicated following among locals.
Noo-Kayet Development CEO Chris Placentia said customers can expect few immediate changes as the corporation takes over operation of the gas station and store. The first priority is catching up on maintenance, he said.
“It’s going to be operated more professionally, and it will be cleaner overall," Placentia said. "That’s our goal in the short term."
The Kountry Korner name will remain in place for now, as will the iconic troll statues. Placentia said Noo-Kayet plans to eventually renovate and rebrand the property. The corporation is honoring leases with the three business tenants adjacent to the convenience store.
The S'Klallam Tribe also owns the Gliding Eagle Market store and gas station on its reservation at the intersection of Little Boston Road and Hansville Road, about two miles north of Kountry Korner. A compact with the state reimburses the tribe for 75 percent of the tax it pays on wholesale gasoline.
The Kountry Korner gas station will not operate under the compact because the business is not situated on tribal land.
Noo-Kayet Corporation has been working to grow and diversify the tribe's business portfolio. The tribe recently purchased Heronswood Garden, opened a hotel next to its Point Casino and is in negotiations with the state to begin selling marijuana.