Wray’s Market Fresh IGA, a popular family-owned grocery in Yakima has been recognized by the Washington Food Industry Association(WFIA) for its community service.
For more than 18 years, owners Chris and Karen Brown have found ways to support not only their own employees, but the greater Yakima community. From the Red Cross to the March of Dimes, the Browns have collaborated with established non-profit charities to support various local causes. They’ve also developed their own programs, including a free car seat program for new mothers in partnership with Yakima Neighborhood Health. Last year, they donated 100 car seats to area families in need. The store also partners with the local humane society on pet food drives and sponsors plays at the local theater.
Chris Brown is also an active member of the Yakima Sunrise Rotary Club, where he has been selected by his peers to serve as president-elect for 2024-25.
“It’s really inspiring to see the breadth of their work in the community, and to think about how many lives they have touched in the process,” said WFIA President and CEO Tammie Hetrick. “As a family-owned business, Chris and Karen bring a caring and supportive approach to everything they do. They are very family first, a philosophy that extends to their own employees, their customers and the local community,” said Hetrick.
“The Browns are an inspiration to us all. Their kindness and community focus reflect the spirit of the independent grocer and we are so thrilled to recognize them for their years of service.”
Wray Brown, Chris’ grandfather, opened his first store in 1955; he went on to add three more stores in the Yakima area. Chris has been a part of the family business for his entire life, save for the two years he spent at Western Michigan University where he met his wife, Karen. In 2005, he inherited the store from his father, Bob Brown.
Chris and Karen have four children, three of whom work in the family business.
PHOTO 2: Five generations of the Brown family (from left to right): Jesse Villanueva, Kendel Brown, Chris Brown, Nick Brown, Mikaela Brown, Alex Brown. (Children'snames not provided. Photo courtesy of WFIA)