A home-grown effort to build a community grocery store in Whitewater took major steps toward realization of their goal with the establishment of a local workspace for project planners and the distribution of results of a feasibility study.
Whitewater Grocery Co., a 350 plus member-owned cooperative business established to fund and build a full-service local grocery shopping option for area residents, has leased office space in the Whitewater Innovation Center. Lacey Reichwald, President of the Whitewater Grocery Co. Board of Directors, explained that local support for the effort has reached the point where its Board of Directors and volunteers need a dedicated workspace. “We are really excited that the Whitewater Innovation Center has agreed to lease us office space as we ramp up our efforts,” said Reichwald. She also announced that they will be sharing the results of a study that supports the Whitewater community’s ability to support a new grocery store at several upcoming community meetings.
“At this point in time we are focused more on the “what” than the “where” of our new venture,” said Reichwald. The organization, which now has more than 350 owners, is in Stage 2a Feasibility and needs to get to 500 owners before moving to the next step of the development process. Individuals are asked to make a one-time payment of $150, or $25 installment payments for six months, to become vested as an owner. Once the store opens, anyone will be able to shop at the store, but owners will receive extra benefits, including special owner sales and discounts. When Whitewater Grocery Co. makes a profit, the Board of Directors may decide to give a dividend, or money back, to its Owners.
“Our study indicates the viability of a full-service grocery store with a roughly 10,000 square foot shopping area, similar to the floor space of the Aldi Food Markets found in many Wisconsin communities,” added Reichwald. She pointed out that getting to the local investment level represented by 500 owners allows Whitewater Grocery Co. to proceed to the next feasibility stage, 2b Planning, where they will finalize the business plan, start researching supplier options and distribution networks in earnest, and begin site analysis.
Whitewater Grocery Co. will host an open house at the new office on Saturday, May 5. The new office location at the Whitewater Innovation Center, in Suite 118, is part of the eastside Whitewater Technology Park.