RACINE — The Wild Root Market Cooperative Board of Directors announced Thursday that it has a contract in place for its future grocery store at 1101 Grove Ave.
The building formerly housed a Piggly Wiggly grocery store in addition to other businesses. The store closed in the spring of 2004. Since then it was briefly a shoe store but has mostly remained vacant.
The store is expected to open in the next 12 to 18 months.
Wild Root Market Board President Alida Harper Trocke stated, “We are very excited to make this long-awaited announcement, knowing that we are wellprepared to move forward and we are confident this centrally located site offers the best potential for a successful store.”
Ninth District Alderman Terrence McCarthy stated, “I enthusiastically welcome Wild Root Market to West Racine. Having a walkable grocery will greatly enhance quality of life for West Racine.”
Racine Mayor John Dickert echoed those sentiments.
“I am very excited about this news,” he stated. “There is not only a need for a grocery store in West Racine, but the increased availability of local and organic products is something I know is important to the residents of Racine.”
Wild Root’s board is keeping the specific terms confidential until the transaction is complete. However, with the property securely under contract, no other entity can lease or purchase the site while the co-op completes its remaining work for the future 9,000-square-foot store.
The project manager, Jeffrey Metz, is first soliciting bids to evaluate the site for structural and environmental defects. Bids are also being solicited from design/build contractors for store design and renovations.
The co-op, which has about 625 member-owners, will next work to raise approximately $3.5 million in startup capital through owner loans, community funding, traditional financing and government loans and grants.
Other critical actions will involve hiring an experienced grocery co-op general manager and assuring a critical mass of shoppers by expanding the co-op’s ownership base to its target of 1,500 member-owners by the time the store opens.
The board will also attempt to secure a compatible tenant to occupy approximately 4,000 square feet of space that exceeds the store’s immediate needs. Co-op Marketing Chairwoman Marcia Buhler noted that Milwaukee co-op Outpost Natural Foods has a credit union within one of its stores.
The co-op anticipates hosting a public event in early spring to display preliminary architectural renderings.
When open, the full-service store is expected to carry fresh, natural and organic produce, meat and dairy sourced locally whenever possible; canned and frozen foods; bulk foods such as grains, nuts and spices; coffee, tea, wine and beer; household and personal care products; and vitamins and herbal supplements.
Plans also include a deli/café and dining area, healthy prepared foods for dining in-store or taking out, and a community meeting room for cooking classes and other educational programs.
Why Wild Root Market chose West Racine site
Wild Root Market said its board of directors chose the former Piggly Wiggly grocery store at 1101 Grove Ave. for a future co-op grocery store because of these specific advantages:
• It was formerly a grocery store, so it already contains important infrastructure that may reduce construction expenses.
• It generated the highest sales projections of the three finalist sites in two market studies.
• It has ample free parking and it is on a bus line.
• It is located within a densely populated residential area that also includes a federally designated “food desert.”
• Its location next to a CVS Pharmacy at 1122 West Blvd. and because its proximity to other businesses in West Racine offers “important retail synergy.”
About Wild Root Market
Wild Root Market Cooperative is a consumer-owned cooperative that operates on a for-profit basis and is open to the entire community. A cooperative business operates according to principles that are rooted in service first to member-owners — and, by extension, the co-op — then to the community in which it is located.
For more information, visit www.wildrootmarket.coop where owner registrations can be made directly through the website.