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Alaska Retail Chain Grows C-store Footprint

Three Bears Alaska expands into new regions through recent acquisitions.
Angela Hanson
Three Bears Alaska logo

WASILLA, Alaska — Three Bears Alaska is adding to its convenience store count with the acquisition of multiple locations in the Alaska Interior and Unalaska regions.

The retail and grocery chain recently acquired six stores. These include four Sourdough Fuel c-stores and gas stations in Fairbanks; a c-store and gas station in Delta Junction; and an Alaska Ship Supply store supply store in Unalaska, reported KTOO.

[Read more: Convenience Channel Sees Traffic Jump Across Brands]

The former Sourdough locations will rebrand to Three Bears gas stations, according to spokesperson Jim Kolb. Plans for the changeover are still being planned, but the transition should be a fairly quick one because Three Bears only needs to change signage and swap out some new inventory, he shared.

The privately owned c-store and gas station in downtown Delta Junction is expected to require more work as Three Bears transitions it to a gas station and small grocery store until it can build a real grocery store on the site.

The company is planning the interim small grocery because Delta Junction has been without a full-size grocery store since late 2021, when its only supermarket suffered a roof collapse during a winter storm, the news outlet reported. 

"Because we know they don't have anything up there, and they've been screaming," Kolb said.

The purchase of the Alaska Ship Supply store marks Three Bears' expansion into the Aleutian Islands. The company hopes to open and expand the store in November.

Three Bears has been focusing on expansion since it entered into a recapitalization deal with Westward Partners, a Seattle-based private equity firm, in spring 2022. Since then, it has acquired or built new stores near Ketchikan, Eagle River, Cooper Landing, Ester and North Pole.

The company is also the beneficiary of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.'s in-state investment program. The investment was directed by Barings, a multibillion-dollar global investment firm charged with managing half of the in-state investment program, reported the Alaska Beacon. Barings co-invested Alaska Permanent Fund money into Three Bears with Westward Partners.

The exact amount of funding was not disclosed, but it was a multimillion-dollar investment that made Barings' Alaska Future Fund a "strategic, minority investor" in Three Bears, according to James Cartales, managing director of Seattle-based Cascadia Capital, which helped coordinate the investment.

The investment allowed Three Bears to improve its existing plans to expand in Alaska, according to Kolb.

"We were growing anyway up until then," Kolb said. "But that recapitalization has allowed us to leverage investors' money, instead of the bank, so we have to come up with less down [payment] to get these projects going, which is very, very helpful."

In addition to its recent acquisitions, Wasilla-based Three Bears Alaska currently has 13 grocery stores, eight gas stations, nine sporting-goods stores and four pharmacies.

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